HarrisPoll

I’m not a big fan of most of the survey places you find online these days. They’re too much work for what amounts to little payoff, but I do like being rewarded for providing my input and doing some everyday things. I’m still a fan of Swagbucks even though I’ve been slacking lately on their surveys and videos you complete/watch for credit. And when it comes to physically going to the store and being rewarded, Shopkick is another great way to be rewarded.

I joined Harris back in the beginning of April of this year. So far I’ve accumulated about 4400 points. This is more than enough for a $25 gift card, and about 1000 points towards the additional 3000 points I need for a $50 card. I know, it’s not earth shattering money. But for what amounts to about 10 or 15 minutes every other day or so, it all adds up. We use this as “blow” money so to speak by redeeming the points for restaurant gift cards. We don’t actually incur this expense of eating out, so it’s like a nice bonus since we’ve pulled back on our unnecessary spending with me being out of work.

I’m pretty confident I could have been at the $50 gift card in three months. To me this is a nice deal. We can typically eat out at one of the places offered twice with a $50 card further taking advantage of the “freebie”. Additionally, when we combine this gift card with the others we receive from our Discover rewards and Swagbucks, we’re pretty much able to eat out a couple times a month without having to actually use money needed for other things.

HPRewards

And if you don’t want to spend Harris points (they call them HI points) on restaurant gift cards, there are plenty of other items they offer as rewards. Check out the list!

Joe-

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Just some randomness:

Video Games


Far Cry 4 – I got into FC4 after taking it out from the library and really got into it. This was a pretty good obsession as I just kept taking it out from the library and didn’t have to buy a copy for myself. Once I finished a game, I rarely go back to play more.
FC4

Disney Tsum Tsum – Say what you want, this game is highly addictive. I play every day. It’s a good time waster if you’re bored.
TsumTsum


Food


Eggs – I’ve always liked eggs, but with really watching my diet and exercising, I’ve been careful with how much protein I take in on a daily basis. In addition to whey protein, I’ve been eating eggs like it’s no ones business. There was a point in time a couple weeks ago when I had 9 dozen in the refrigerator. Yes, 9 dozen! And I didn’t waste any; I ate all of them. I like to keep a carton of hard boiled in the fridge for a breakfast addition or a quick snack. It’s a cheap way to help out your diet. Costco typically has really good prices on their eggs. Our local Costco recently changed their eggs up a bit. They used to be 3 dozen for $1.69. Recently they changed them to a different brand and there’s only 2 dozen for more. Our local produce markets always have good prices, though, so we switch where we buy them as needed.
eggs


Exercising


Biking – for the last couple months I’ve been biking longer distances. I’m really digging getting out on the bike. I started out with just a few miles here and there. Now, I go out a couple times a week and knock out 15-20 miles each time. Great cardio!

Weights – I had thought I found a good routine with lifting every three days. I found a good combination of exercises and stretches I really like. As I get older, I find that I’m a bit more prone to injury, so I’ve been really careful to take it slow and back off at any sign of injury. It’s happened a few times where something gets more sore than from a typical workout, so I press the pause button and go back to it when I feel better. See, I really jacked up my shoulder a while back in addition to my elbow, to the point where it took nearly a year to feel normal again. Crazy right? But that’s been a while now so I’ve been lifting now for months without any real “injury”. It’s been great. But last week I tweaked my elbow again and it’s been just a little sore every day since. I backed off lifting just in case. I’m hoping it goes away soon so I can get back to it. But when you find the right routine, you get excited to lift. I have to adjust my routine, but I still look forward to getting my lifting in.


Electronics/Gadgets


Google Play Music – I may have mentioned Google Play Music before, but it’s still part of my every day routine. Tons of different playlists to choose from no matter what you’re in the mood for. My faves include: Today’s Country Hits and 2016 Summer Dance Party

MPOW Bluetooth Adapter – My car is just old enough to not have any of the Bluetooth integration. So we’ve been using a cord to connect a cell phone to the radio for trips and such. Not that the cord is a big PITA, but it kind of is. So we picked this up on Amazon after getting tired of having a cord all over to connect to my auxiliary port in the car. The reviews are great at 4.5 stars with nearly 4k reviews. So far, so good! This device works like a charm. And only $15.99! If you don’t have Bluetooth in your vehicle but have the auxiliary port, this device works really well.

Joe-

Do you know how Dunkin Donuts currently has iced tea and coffee available for $0.99 from 2-6 pm every day? Well, if you’re like me you don’t necessarily want to drink a large calorie-laden drink in one sitting. What I do is order a large and then when I get home pop the whole thing in the fridge. The ice doesn’t melt for days, true story! I once got the large Almond Joy iced coffee (which is delicious by the way) and nursed it for three days. Just a little tip for anyone who wants to treat themselves but is worried about being able to finish such a large drink. Now you can have your treat and drink it too. 😉

*the picture below shows 3-6pm, but DD has changed the times here in Chicago at least, to 2-6pm.
DD

A comment made on one of our earlier posts inspired this one.

As you know, the general wisdom is you should have x number of months worth of expenses saved for emergencies so if you lose your job you won’t go into debt before finding a new one. Perhaps I gave the impression at some point that we didn’t have money set aside for such things, but of course we do!

We have always lived below our means not just so we could save for retirement, but also to save for the unexpected. We could have spent more extravagantly over the years and saved less but we both feel more secure with money in the bank. There’s something to be said for that peace of mind. It’s certainly more important to us than a bunch of material possessions.

While it would have been easy to continue spending money as if nothing has changed, and we’d be fine for awhile, we didn’t feel comfortable doing so. We have no idea what the future holds, and I’m not being negative when I say that, just realistic. I’ve seen too many people remain unemployed (or underemployed) for years, and would rather plan for the worse case scenario than assume things will work out, not reduce our expenses, and possibly find ourselves in a bad situation. Not to mention the fact that it took us 15 years to accumulate our savings and we don’t want to burn through that in a fraction of the time.

That’s not to say we aren’t having fun, however! It’s just a more frugal kind of fun, like seeing movies at the discount theater instead of going on a big vacation. That being said, we’ll still go to Indiana Beach this year and spend $100-$200 for the day. And that’s ok, because that annual event is totally worth it to us. We’re being cautious with our money, but not cheap to the point of not enjoying ourselves here and there.

I hope that clears up any misconceptions regarding our current state of financial affairs.

garage-sale-sign

This is the weekend! After careful analysis of the garage sale market, updates from the Chicago weather teams, a scientific study from MIT…well, not really. More like Joe has finally stopped dragging his feet so the garage sale is finally happening! Thankfully, the forecast is looking good. We’re only doing the sale on Friday and Saturday as I wasn’t sure we would have enough product for Sunday. But who knows, once we’re set up, we’ll see what happens and maybe run Sunday as well.

We’ve been pricing all the items we have up for sale this past week and trying to get things set up in the garage so we can just pull them out on Friday morning.

We came to realize a few things:

  • Pre-printed price labels – must have
  • Plenty of tables – must have
  • Kicking the cars out of the garage so you can set up – must have
  • Hanging up clothes, looks better and doesn’t take up table space – must have
  • We really only had a couple of tables ourselves and wqickly realized we needed more. Thankfully a friend had a few she let us borrow. This will make our presentation look all that much better.

    And forget visiting the local Target/Walmart/Home Center for garage sale supplies. Instead hit the dollar store. Cheap and pretty nice. You don’t want to spend $30 on supplies and start the day having to make all that up first.

    I’ll put together a recap for next week after it’s all done and we’ve sold everything! A guy can hope we sell almost everything.

    Joe-

    I’m one of those people who really really hates wasting money. I’m not exactly thrilled with spending it either, but if I get some value from my money then I feel good. But if I buy something that I never end up using it really bothers me. To avoid this as much as possible, I seriously consider any purchases regardless of the cost. I won’t pay even $1 for something if I’m questioning it’s usefulness.

    Well, last summer I bought this day bag after carefully pouring over the reviews. I didn’t pay too much for it (I had a discount code), but after using it twice I realized the strap is extremely uncomfortable – it’s too think and cuts into my shoulder. What I thought was the perfect bag turned into something I didn’t even want to use anymore. This really irked me because otherwise I love all the different pockets and design of the bag. It’s been sitting in storage ever since because I couldn’t return it.

    The other morning I was trying to find something to carry my lunch and snacks into work and decided to dig through the box where I keep all my bags to see if I had anything that was more suitable than the larger than I need bag I had been using. Then I saw it. Perfect! And it really is. The inside is even that type of material that wipes off easily if I happen to spill something inside of it. And because I’m only carrying it from my car into work and vice versa there’s not enough time for the strap to hurt my shoulder. You have no idea how giddy it made me to find a new use for this previously wasteful purchase!

    It’s situations like these that make it hard for me to part with things I’ve haven’t used for years because often I will find a new purpose for them if enough time passes. There’s a delicate balance between hoarding and decluttering, that’s for sure.

    Do you have any re-purposing stories to share?

    Tesla’s monster lithium ion battery production facility has been under construction since 2014. What’s crazy to me is that by 2020, the Gigafactory will be producing more lithium ion batteries than the entire world did in 2013.

    While it’s still a ways away from full completion, the facility is already manufacturing battery equipment for its current vehicles. The facility is being built in anticipation for the Model 3 – A $35k electric vehicle meant to bring battery powered vehicles to the Average Joe – which was unveiled earlier this year.

    Tesla Gigafactory

    The Gigafactory is critical to Tesla’s mission of bringing a reasonable priced battery-powered vehicle to the average person. Go big or go home, right? It’s part of the plan for them. Economies of scale will allow Telsa to put out the batteries with a savings of 30% being passed right down to the cost of the vehicle. Pre-sales for the model 3 by mid-May were already at 373k according to Tesla. The Model 3s won’t even ship until mid-2017. There is quite a bit of excitement and obvious demand for a vehicle like the Model 3.

    In cooperation with Tesla, a drone captured the construction site back in April. You can get a real feel for the enormity of the facility. I’m looking forward to seeing a similar video once the factory is completed.

    In full disclosure, I should point out we do have Tesla stock in our portfolio. I’m not a big fan of individual stocks. A matter of fact, I tend to stick with mutual/index funds, but that’s a post for another day. But with as exciting as this technology is to me, it was as much a no-brainer to own this stock much like we do Apple. I am excited to see such advances in technology like this; how can you not be when you think about our reliance on fossil fuels?

    What really got me interested in Tesla stock was CEO Elon Musks attitude about increasing battery technology for “the greater good” so to speak. Back in June 2014, Tesla announced they would not initiate any patent lawsuits against anyone who wants to use the technology in good faith. It’s almost like he’s giving an open-sourced version to the world and saying, go ahead make it better. It reminds me much of the Linux open source movement.

    Joe-