There is much debate about whether the latte factor can really make or break you when it comes to finances. For the record, I think it can result in “death by a thousand cuts” (a phrase I just saw someone use in the comments on another blog), but what I really want to focus on is how in addition to it affecting your bottom line, it’s wasteful and detracts from your overall enjoyment.

Something isn’t a treat if you’re enjoying it on a regular basis. Is anyone really savoring their morning Starbucks (or Dunkin Donuts) if they get it every single day? Doubtful. It’s just routine at that point. So in addition to blowing $4 a day, you’re not even getting all that much enjoyment out of it. If instead you got your iced coffee once a week (or less), you’d be saving money AND you’d really enjoy the experience. You just have to be willing to try it.

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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

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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.

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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?

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Friday we called Comcast to cancel our cable service.

With it now being re-run season, we felt it was the perfect time to cut the cord, so to speak, and try life without cable tv. I didn’t like the idea of parting with my DVR because I really do love having shows waiting for me to be watched, but I was willing to give it a try. In addition, we already have Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime so there’s no shortage of alternative sources of entertainment, nevermind the fact that it’s almost summer and we want to spend more time outdoors.

An interesting thing happened when I called to cancel – I was offered a lower rate for cable plus internet (at the same speed) than it would cost to retain just internet service. That’s even when factoring in the ridiculous $10 HD technology fee. And of course I’m going to pay that fee because I don’t have a 55″ 4k TV for nothing, you know (it was a splurge/steal at Costco, don’t hate).

Quick rant: Who is still watching standard definition cable, besides my parents, these days? Don’t you think that fee is just a way for Comcast to get even more money out of people? You can get HD channels on your TV over the air with a regular antenna for goodness sake. Anyway…

I kept clarifying with the customer service agent to make sure I wasn’t mistaken, but sure enough, our new package would cost $20 less per month than internet alone and all we had to do was swap the DVR and move down to the cable package they call Digital Economy. Done and done!

We packed up the box and headed to the Xfinity store to swap it. We had to wait a little over twenty minutes to do so, however, because it was a bit crowded on a Friday afternoon. They’ve closed many of their service centers and the ones remaining bear little resemblance to how they used to look when I worked for them well over a decade ago. They are trying for an Apple Store vibe and several days later I’m still not sure whether it works. But I guess if you have to wait around to do something as simple as swap equipment it might as well be while sitting on a cushy ottoman in a dimly lit modern-looking establishment, right?

Overall our bill will be a full $50 less than what we were paying before while still giving us access to basic channels. I call that a win. It’s just funny how much they push their cable service, to the point where you’d be paying more without it.

Now I just have to remember to call back in 12 months when that promotional rate expires and “cancel” my service again.

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Things You Do That Annoy Your Coworkers

It’s the end of the week. Thank goodness, right? Now you can get a break from your coworkers. As nice as they may be, I’m sure they do things that annoy you. Likewise, you probably do at least something to annoy them. Here’s a list of some of the irritants I’ve experienced over the years.

Around The Office

Playing music too loudly – It doesn’t matter whether you’re listening via headphones or speakers at your desk, if anyone who isn’t sitting directly in front of your computer can hear your music then it’s too loud.

Clicking a mouse like you’re afraid to touch it – I never thought I’d run into this one, but apparently some people poise their finger way too far above the mouse clicker so instead of a soft click, they sound like they are playing whack-a-mole with their mouse. Don’t be one of those people, particularly if you work in close proximity to others. That repetitive loud clicking/jabbing noise is irritating after several hours. It’s the equivalent of listening to a dripping faucet.

Barging into someone’s office or cubicle and launching into a topic without first announcing your presence – Give people a chance to stop what they’re doing before talking about something. In addition, stand at the perimeter of the cubicle and not right up against your coworker’s chair. No one wants your crotch in their face!

Email

Emailing important information in a screenshot instead of within an actual file – A screenshot is fine if you’re just explaining something and using the screenshot as backup, but if you’re asking someone to setup an account, for instance, and the data is in Excel or Word, don’t send them a screenshot and make them have to retype all the info. Send them the actual file, or at the very least, copy and paste it into the body of your email. Think about how you’d like to receive the same information from someone else and don’t make their job harder than it has to be.

Neglecting to include attachments when forwarding an email – If someone emails you a question that includes attachments and you need to forward that on, use the forward option in Outlook and then CC the original person so they see you’re addressing their concern. Do not hit reply, add the new party to the thread, and then hit send. Now that new person doesn’t have all the information required to address the issue.

Addressing two entirely different topics in one email – If someone sends you two emails about completely different topics, please make it easier on everyone by responding to both emails separately instead of tacking your answer to both on one of them. It makes it difficult to follow the thread otherwise when in an email about time off you include “oh and yes, you need to do XYZ with the TPS reports”. Later when that person needs to justify why they did XYZ with the TPS reports, they aren’t going to remember to check the thread about time off for your answer. Unless you’re intentionally trying to make your colleagues’ jobs more difficult, please do not do this.

Hijacking an email thread to ask an off-topic question – Similarly to the issue above, this makes it difficult for people to follow a thread and/or find one later on. If you want to talk about something new, please start a new email thread.

Final Thoughts

Do you recognize yourself in any of these behaviors? It’s worth considering since most people aren’t going to address them with you but might like you less if you’re constantly annoying them.

What do your coworkers do that annoy you?

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Do you suffer from lactose intolerance? Unfortunately I do and lactose free milk can be pretty pricey. A half gallon costs more than a full gallon of regular milk, plus I don’t drink milk very often, so more often than not it’s a waste of money and milk to even buy it.

On top of that, I still want to be able to enjoy ice cream and cheese without paying the price later. That’s where Dairy Digest Complete comes in. I discovered it a few months ago and now I take one pill right before I’m going to consume something that normally would upset my stomach and I’m good to go. The pills are cheaper than Lactaid and small enough that I can keep several in my purse so I’m always prepared. I highly recommend them!

Disclaimer: I was not paid to promote this product, I just really find it useful and wanted to share.

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The verdict is officially in, and just as we suspected, we’re saving a ton of money after switching our wireless carrier to Ting. Our first bill, including taxes & fees, was $34.01, which breaks down as follows:

TingBill

What a difference compared to the $135.70 we were paying to AT&T monthly. Plus this first bill was covered by the credits we received so we didn’t have to pay anything. Why oh why didn’t we switch sooner?

Full disclosure: I don’t think our monthly bill will be quite this low moving forward because we were trying to see how much we could lower it so we were a bit restrictive in our overall usage. That being said, we do have certain habits that keeps our usage naturally low.

Minutes
Who uses their phone to make calls? But seriously, we don’t talk on the phone much, and I’ve been using our MagicJack service via the iPhone app for long conversations with my family since we’re already paying a set amount for that service. No need to jack up our wireless bill unnecessarily.

Messages
Our AT&T plan restricted us to 200 texts per month or we’d pay extra per text, so for years we’ve been using an app called eBuddy XMS to communicate with each other and Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts to “text” with friends and family.

Megabytes
I was grandfathered into an unlimited plan with AT&T so I never bothered connecting to Wi-Fi outside our home and consequently would use about 2 GB of data every month. One of the biggest changes I made after switching to Ting was taking advantage of free Wi-Fi networks when we’re out. I enjoy surfing when Joe is driving and I didn’t do much of that this first month either. Now that I know that it won’t impact our bill very much as long as I avoid the data hogging apps (I’m looking at you, Facebook), I’m going to be a little more relaxed about it.

Final Thoughts
I anticipate our Ting bill will be under $50 every month which is still an $80 savings over AT&T which is awesome.

How to switch to Ting
If you’re interested in switching to Ting, check out my post about our switch for full details, or check out my quick instructions below.

1) Open Ting account, order SIM card.

2) Request that your current carrier unlock your device.

3) After receiving your SIM card, log into your Ting account and choose activate.

4) Request through Ting that they port your number (optional).

5) Once port request goes through your old carrier will automatically cancel your account. Or if you’re not porting a number, call your carrier to cancel your service.

6) Install your Ting SIM card and follow your former carrier’s device unlock instructions.

7) If you have to pay an ETF, send that final bill to Ting and they will credit you back for a portion of it.

Enjoy the savings!

Ting

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