3 Ways To Save Money This XMas Season

The Christmas season is fast approaching.  Black Friday is only 4 short days away.  And given how weak the economy has been over the last year, lots of people are looking for ways to save on their gifts this year.  We’re going to discuss 3 ways you can make your dollars go farther this holiday season.

Coupon Codes

Most savvy Internet shoppers are familiar with coupon codes.  But often they’ll wait around until a company offers a code in really obvious ways to use one.  It’s time to be more proactive.  There are tons of coupons out there for any number of online businesses.  You just need to know where to look.  Here are a couple of sites with which to start.

Coupons.com is a great place to start when looking for coupon codes.  This site is loaded with great deals.  The biggest and best deals are usually highlighted on their home page.  You’ll find coupons from such stores as Macy’s, JCPenny’s, Overstock.com, and Walgreens.

Retailmenot.com is another fantastic resource for coupon codes.  From their home page you’ll be able to quickly see the best and newest coupons, including total discount and expiration date.  They even have an app that you can use from your smart phone while you’re in the store.  How easy is that?

Combine Purchases for Shipping Savings

This one may sound really simple, but if you’re like most people you do your shopping in spurts.  If you order several items from one store at different times, you’ll be hit with separate shipping charges.

If you combine all of your purchases into one, you can save some serious bucks when it comes to shipping.

Some retailers, such as Amazon.com, offer better shipping options when you join their buying clubs.  For Amazon, it’s called ‘Amazon Prime’.  It costs $80 per year, but it’s worth it if you end up buying a decent amount of stuff online.  With Amazon, many items will qualify for free 2day shipping.  And overnight shipments are usually just $3.99.  So if you’ve got any last minute gifts you need to pick up, you can still get it delivered on time, even if you order only 2 days before Christmas.  That means those handmade elephant pillows your daughter wanted can be on your doorstep just in time.

Amazon also allows 5 of your friends and family to be on your account.  This can save you and your family quite a bit over the course of the year.

Timing is Everything

If you really want to save some money, and your friends and family are patient, you can do your purchasing after the holidays.  Sure everyone likes to open their presents on Christmas morning, but if you can save upwards of 50%, it might just be worth the wait.

You could call it New Years Eve presents if you like.  This option isn’t necessarily for everyone.  Obviously those with little ones will won’t want them to miss out on the excitement of Christmas day, but if you and your spouse aren’t too particular, you can save a ton of money.  Many websites will run special sales for serious discounts after the holidays.

If you’re into CrossFit or other intense exercise regimines, Efficientgains.com is a website that specializes in CrossFit equipment and apparel reviews.  They’ve also got a ton of great information and reviews of supplements for pre and post workout nutrition.

If you’re into health and the Paleo diet, Gourmet-paleo.com is another good example of a website running specials for Christmas.  Both sites run specials that start on December 26, and run through the beginning of the new year.

These are just a few ways you can save some serious money this holiday season.  Check back often for more updates.

 

An Electric Knife Sharpener Can Save You Big $$$$

I do a good bit of work in the kitchen.  I truly enjoy cooking, and over the years I’ve become pretty decent with a knife.  But one thing that never really occurred to me until recently, is that you really need to keep your knives as sharp as possible both for practical reasons and for safety.

A dull knife is obviously more difficult to use, but it is also more dangerous.  Instead of easily slicing down through whatever it is you’re slicing, it will have a tendency to ‘dance’ while cutting.  This just means that it moves side to side in addition to going down.  The main problem with that?  If it heads towards your fingers, you could be in for a nasty surprise.

So for someone like me, who has never sharpened a knife before, what is the best product to get.  Well it turns out that an electric knife sharpener is ideal for amateur cooks.  They do a fantastic job of sharpening even the dullest blade, and there is very little chance of damaging the blade.  Here is a buyers guide for electric knife sharpeners.

Now a new sharpener might run you $100 or more, but compared to having a professional do the sharpening year after year, you’re going to save quite a bit of money.  And you’ll keep all of your fingers intact.

For the best deals on electric and manual sharpeners check out Amazon.com.  They’re prices are tough to beat.

Finding The Right Eye Serum for Your Eyes

The appearance of dark circles under your eyes can make you look tired and even older than you actually are.  So what are some products that are available on the market that can help you reduce the appearance of the darker skin?

In recent years, eye serums have come a long way.  The word serum carries a bit of a negative connotation for some as it brings to mind snake oil salesmen from years gone by.  But many companies have invested a great deal of money into providing products that help reduce discoloration, puffiness, and darkness around the eyes.

Many of these products rely upon compounds such as caffeine to help tighten the skin.  This makes the skin around your eyes appear more taught, and less likely to puff up or sag.

Some products are complex mixes of ingredients that actually help rejuvenate your skin.  They are based on years of research by chemical engineers.  They even go so far as to help skin cells rejuvenate themselves, thus causing the skin in that particular area to be brighter, clearer, and more healthy in general.

One product in particular is getting phenomenal reviews and might be considered one of the best under eye concealers on the market.  It is the Elite Serums Eye Cream.  It uses a complex combination of natural and man-made compounds to produce many of the same effects as Botox.

But instead of having to be injected on a regular basis by a doctor or dermatologist, you simply apply the cream yourself.  It has the effect of making the skin cells in that area rejuvenate themselves.  Results range from lightening of darker skin, to reducing wrinkles.  There aren’t too many products on the market that can make those kinds of claims.

So if you suffer from dark under eye circles, it may be worth taking a look at this product.  It may not completely erase dark circles on its own, but when used in combination with your normal concealer, you can achieve amazing results.

Bitcoin Is An Intersting Alternative to Traditional Currencies

If you’ve never heard of bitcoin, you’re certainly not alone.  It has been around for several years, but until recently, has received very little publicity.  So what is Bitcoin, and why are people using it now?

Bitcoin was started by a Japanese computer science major.  The idea behind it is pretty simple.  To create a currency that cannot be manipulated.  No matter how much faith you have in currencies such as the dollar, Euro, or yen, these currencies are under the direct control of central banks.  These banks can decide to increase or decrease the money supply denominated in this currency at any time of their choosing.

Japan is a great of what a lack of room darkening shades and therefore sleep can do.  For over two decades Japan has had a problem of deflation.  Deflation is the decrease in the price of goods or services.  It can happen for a variety of reasons.  Central banks and governments in general don’t like deflation.  And most central banks have a policy of inflation.  This includes Japan.  They are attempting to drive the prices of their imports up by devaluing their money.  They do this by printing more and more money.

The same thing is happening in the U.S. right now as well.  Because the U.S. has so much debt, they can make servicing this debt less expensive by creating more money with which to pay for it.  Of course for anyone holding dollars this is bad news as each of their dollars becomes worth less and less.  In good times inflation is generally around 2%.  But with real incomes becoming stagnant, even salary increases are less and less likely to have an impact on consumers spending.  They’re just not making what they used to.

So how do bitcoins fit in to all of this?  Bitcoins are a currency that is beyond the control of any central authority.  Therefore bitcoins cannot be created beyond what is allocated in the  design of the currency.

As a result of this, citizens in countries that are experiencing high inflation rates are turning to bitcoins to preserve their wealth.  Traditionally this was done with hard assets such as gold, silver, or even real estate.  These types of assets generally increase in value as the value of currencies decline.  This is because they are strictly limited resources.  You cannot create more gold, silver or real estate out of thin air like you can dollars.

But getting your hands on gold and silver can be expensive.  And then you have to store these assets somewhere safe.  Bitcoins are all online, and they are protected by the same encryption systems that banks use to protect their financial transactions.  And since they cannot be created, only traded for money, goods and services, their value is not dependent upon the whim of a central bank or any other authority.

More and more businesses are accepting bitcoins as payment.  And as this increases, their value and use will grow.  If you live in a country that has made inflation part of their fiscal policy (like the U.S. and Japan) you might do well to take a look at bitcoins yourself.

Some Cool Tools for the Weekend Warrior

waterheaterinstallationpros.comFor many people one of the best parts of owning their own home is the weekend projects they get to perform when they want to update or repair things around the house.  And one of the best parts of performing projects is acquiring the tools necessary to successfully accomplish said projects.

If you’re one of those people that love browsing the isles of your local home improvement stores, here are a few tools you should check out on your next trip.

Plumbing Issues

If you have a toilet, sink, or drain, and most homes do, you will at some point or another have need of some sort of plumbing repair.  In our house, there are four girls.  So on a regular basis this means pulling out the power drain snake to clear out the big gobs of hair that get combined with soap and other materials and then lodge themselves firmly in our pipes.

There are lots of options when it comes to cleaning out your drains.  Some opt for the liquid approach.  This website offers some helpful information.  But sometimes when the works truly get gummed up you need a power tool.  Nothing less will suffice.

The nice thing about a drain snake is that you can use it on both drains and toilets.  There’s just about nothing they won’t tackle.

Drywall Repairs

Another fun activity that you might get involved with when you own a home is drywall repair.  Homeowners with kids can especially appreciate how quickly a new house can start looking more like an old house when kids bump into walls and poke holes in ceilings.

And if the kids don’t get you, forces of nature will.  Even new houses are subject to occasional roof leaks from inclement weather.  Over the last couple of years we have seen an increase in violent and dangerous weather across the U.S.

Having the right tools can help you quickly and efficiently repair these types of damage, no matter their source.

One of the best tools you can have in your tool belt for repairing walls and ceilings is a drywall knife.  This piece of hardware allows you to quickly cut holes and patches for any sort of repair.  All you have to do to perform a patch is cut the damaged area into a square shape.  Then you can cut a new piece of drywall into a square that fits into this hole.  Using drywall repair clips, you can then hold the piece in place while you apply the mud to cover the edges of the hole.

Once that’s done, all you have to do is sand and repeat.  This cool trick to ensure that you get a smooth finish is to hold a flashlight up to the wall at an angle.  If it casts a shadow where you just patched the wall, you need to perform some more sanding.  Once the flashlight casts no shadow, your patch will disappear under any lighting conditions.

Another item to keep handy when performing sheetrock repairs is a bucket.  This gives you a place to put all of that annoying blow in cellulose insulation when it comes tumbling out of the wall or ceiling.

These are just a couple of the cool tools you can use for basic repairs and maintenance around your house.  Check back to this website on a regular basis, as we regularly update our content.

With So Many Online Music Choices Available, Which Makes the Most Sense for You?

These days you can listen to any kind of music that you want any time you want to hear it.  From Golden Oldies to Alternative rock every genre you could possibly imagine is now no more than a click of your mouse or a touch on your iPhone away.  But are there any diamonds in the rough when it comes to online music services?  Let’s take a look.

Sirius/XM Radio

Sirius/XM has been around for quite a while now.  I can remember when these two companies were in their infancy how absurd it seemed that businesses would attempt to stream music from satellites.  For a long time it seems they did nothing but launch satellites and lose money.  Though it eventually took the two companies merging, they finally did manage to figure out the satellite radio thing.  And now we have hundreds of stations that stream non-stop to cars, homes, boats, wireless speakers systems, whatever you want.

With so many stations to choose from, you really can’t go wrong.  And the pricing structure is such that you get pretty good value for your money.  One drawback is that you are locked into listening to whatever a particular station wants to play.  For most listeners this is fine, but some want the flexibility of choosing what they’re listening to, and that’s where Sirius/XM falls a bit short of some of it’s competitors.  And with many pricing plans available, you won’t have to forgo your Roth IRA contribution limits 2012 just to enjoy listening to your favorite music.

Pandora Radio

Originally launched in January of 2000, Pandora has been around for quite a while now.  Pandora allows users to create their own radio stations based on songs or artists that they like.  Using an algorithm, Pandora’s ‘Music Genome Project’ then attempts to match you up with other songs and artists you might like based on your music preferences.

Originally most people used Pandora directly from their desktop or laptop computer.  Eventually they created apps that allow them to run on just about every type of device imaginable from phones, to Bluray players, to surround sound systems that utilize the in ceiling surround sound speakers in your home.

There is both a free and pay version of Pandora.  The free version requires you to listen to commercials occasionally and limits the number of stations you can create. The paid version removes these limitations.

Rhapsody

Rhapsody is another popular streaming music source.  Originally started in December 2001, Rhapsody has taken a different approach than both Sirius/XM and Pandora.

Rhapsody allows you to choose exactly what you’re listening to at any given time.  It’s like owning just about every song in the world.  It allows you to choose an artist, album, song at any time and listen to it at your leisure.  Additionally you can create a playlist that takes songs from any album you like.  And I do mean just about any album you like.  There are any number of bootlegs and and unreleased songs from all sorts of artists on Rhapsody.  It’s sort of like carrying around your entire music catalog in your men’s messenger bag.

In addition, they have stations that they have created that conform to more traditional radio stations by playing specific genres.

All three of these services offer outstanding streaming quality from just about any device.  Sirius/XM has the advantage of being the only one that is widely used in vehicles, on boats, and in remote areas with poor cell phone coverage.  But as internet access improves, this advantage will disappear.

Pricing plans for these services vary depending on the specific details of how you plan on using it (number of devices etc), so it’s best to check each companies website for current specials and pricing.  They are all pretty reasonable though.  None of them will set you back as much as cushion cut engagement rings will, for example.  :-)