Monday, January 26, 2015

Iced tea math

Since giving up coffee, unsweetened iced tea has been my drink of choice. The cheapest places to buy it typically sell a 32oz cup for 99 cents. With tax, that makes each cup $1.06.

So, for Christmas, I got myself an iced tea maker. This one, to be precise. The price was slightly lower when I got it: $37.00.

I found tagless black tea bags at Walmart for about $1.50 for 100 bags. The iced tea maker uses approx 8 tea bags per pitcher, and each pitcher fills my travel cup (this one) two times (with a little left over).

So! Assuming two fills per 8 tea bags, that means I can get 25 travel cups of tea per 100 count box. At $1.50 per box, that means each refill of tea costs me 6 cents.

Ergo, each refill is saving me exactly $1.00, so the iced tea maker will pay for itself in 37 days, after which I will be saving a full dollar every time I make tea myself instead of buying it.

Obviously, there are variables, like the cost of the water I'm using to make the tea (very tiny cost, but still there), and the cost of the electricity to power the iced tea maker (again, very small). So it's not quite as cut and dry as saving a full dollar. But hey, it's still a massive savings over buying the tea at a convenience store, amirite?

Friday, January 2, 2015

For 2015: more writing and more reading

Don't call it a resolution, but this year I will be attempting pretty much the same thing I said I would do last year: more blog writing and more book reading. Last year was a definite success (21 books read compared to, um, zero? the year before) and 12 blog posts written. This year, I want to do even more.

So if you're reading this, look forward to more blog posts here throughout the year. I'm not decided yet on exactly what to write...the Internet hardly needs another tech review blog, and long opinion pieces are a dime a dozen. I like writing stuff that helps people, like my encouragement to go prepaid. I plan more "apps you've never heard of" posts, and probably more home improvement posts as I tackle some fun sounding projects this year.

So here's to a happy, healthy new year for everyone. I'm looking forward to it!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Having a Kindle has changed my (reading) life

Photo by Zero2Cool
It's now been almost six months since I bought my Kindle and it's safe to say that having it has changed my life for the better. I used to read a lot back in my younger days, but that all changed when adulthood hit. I've even tried other ebook readers in the past, having owned both a Nook Color and a Nook Touch over the years. They were fine enough devices in their way, and I enjoyed using them. But I never returned to reading the way I used to.

I always assumed that the problem was me and that owning a Kindle wouldn't be any different. After all, why should the brand of ebook reader make a difference as to how much I use it?

Boy was I wrong.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Want to save serious money on your smartphone bill? Go prepaid.

(photo by mujitra)
If you're like me, you are always looking for ways to trim a little bit off of your monthly spending. A few dollars here and there can add up quickly and make a big difference in the long run. For most people, one of their most expensive monthly bills is the phone bill. We all love our smartphones, but the data plans are costly. We've all wondered, "do I really need this?" and we inevitably realize, yes, we do need it, so we just grit our teeth and live with the expensive monthly bill.

People are naturally resistant to change, especially one that requires effort. I saw a survey once that asked people how much they would need to save to consider switching mobile phone carriers. The numbers were staggering: the vast majority of people wouldn't switch even if they would save 25%, and most still said they wouldn't switch even if they could save 50%. Why? Because they viewed it as too much of a hassle.

Today, though, it's not the hassle it once was. With number porting, online activation, etc. switching providers only takes a few minutes in most cases and since your number comes with you, none of your contacts will even know anything changed. Plus, if you have an unlocked phone, you can switch carriers without even needing a new phone, just swap SIM cards and go.

If you're ready to lower your phone bill, though, it's easier than you think, even though there is some effort involved. If you could cut your phone bill literally in half, would you? Prepaid is the way to go. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Read this: The Atopia Chronicles by Matthew Mather

Since I have a Kindle now and am starting to read again, I thought I would take advantage of my blog here to highlight some of the noteworthy books I come across. Look for more posts like this in the future

First up in my notable books post is one I recently read called The Atopia Chronicles by Matthew Mather. It's a sort-of science fiction book set in the not-too-distant future. Don't worry, no spoilers here.

In this fictional future, the world's population has grown almost out of control and the wealthy and elite have escaped to a new floating city called Atopia. Atopia isn't affiliated with any government or country and has its own system of governance, defense system, etc.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The trouble with Costco

(photo via Wikipedia)
First, a disclaimer: Costco is a fine store and I have nothing against their products or employees. They are fantastic at what they do, offer some of the best customer service around, and their products are great. It's the way they do business that I take issue with, and that's what I'll be discussing here. I do not hate Costco, please don't send me nasty emails.

I read an article several years ago that changed the way I perceive shopping forever. Everyone should read it, seriously. Go read it now and then come back, I'll wait.

Done? Okay, good. It's actually not an article, but an excerpt from a book called Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture. I haven't read the whole book, but the excerpt article definitely makes me want to read more. Anyway, the excerpt article talks specifically about shopping at outlets. It describes the way outlet malls use mind games to entice customers to spend more money. Every store employs tactics like this, of course, but outlets do it in ways that seem contradictory. While a grocery store may put the highest margin products on an endcap where you're sure to see them, outlets intentionally make shopping difficult, appealing to mindset that inconvenience equals savings.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Starting to read again

I used to love to read. I remember spending hours in book stores ad libraries, perusing the shelves. In book stores, I usually hung out in the paperback aisles, since that's all I could afford. I spent lots of money on paperback books, and loved almost all of them. At the library, I'd spring for hardbacks, an expensive luxury in the stores.

I could recommend dozens of books that I read in those days, and in some cases, I still do.
Lately, though, I've fallen off. Between work, the kids, and all of my DIY homeowner projects, I haven't had the time to read books like I used to. I still read, a lot actually. Just not books. I've been reading blogs, tech news, and longform articles for years now, and they have slowly replaced books as my primary reading material.

I've tried to get back into book reading in the past. I've owned a Nook ereader and a Nook tablet, but neither were perfect for various reasons (both sold on eBay long ago). I've also tried reading ebooks on my phone, but that didn't work for me either due to distractions and battery concerns.

Well, I'm trying again. I now have a Kindle Paperwhite which I can honestly say is the nicest ereader I've ever used. I'll write another post about the Kindle later, but for now, I'll say that it is helping facilitate my renewed attempt at reading again. I want to get back into the habit of reading books regularly. I miss getting absorbed in a story and really enjoying a story. I want my children to grow up seeing me reading a lot.

So let's get started. I just finished a non-fiction book about how to improve the workplace, and now I'm reading a military thriller fiction book. I set up profile on Goodreads (add me as a friend if you want), and I'll report back with any books I find particularly enjoyable.

Reading is something I used to love. I want to love it again.