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June 2014 - Posts - Live Like a Mensch
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Live Like a Mensch

June 2014 - Posts

  • How My Smart Phone is Saving Me Money

     

    J and I are now three months into our smart phone ownership, and I can tell you--I have no idea how we ignored our kids lived pre-smart phone.

    As I mentioned a little while ago, one of the things I was excited about for my smart phone was the various coupon apps that I could download to reduce our grocery costs. Thus far, I have officially used only one coupon app--Cartwheel for Target--about two times. It's been a real moneysaver, let me tell you.

    However, I have found another way that my phone is saving me quite a bit of money.

    You may recall that I have a somewhat contentious relationship with my local library. (Basically, the librarians believe that the library books should remain in pristine condition. I believe that the librarians have somewhat missed out on the cliches of curling up with a book, a cat, and a hot beverage. We mutually decided that I should probably visit the library in West Lafayette where the librarians are less concerned about the possibility of the patrons actually reading the books.)

    Imagine my delight when I discovered that the local library has entered the digital age and offers e-books and audio books to its patrons. I do not have to set foot in the library, and there's no way I can misplace or spill coffee on the materials I borrow.

    Since one of my favorite things in the world is to go for a run while listening to an audio book, my smart phone has made it possible for me to do this without owing one of my children to the good folks at Audible (or the library, for that matter.) I average about two to three audiobooks a month. Digital downloads from Audible tend to run from $20 to $35 each (and I know that I can get them for cheaper if I sign up for the Audible subscription, but I've learned that generally you spend less if you just pay full price whenever you want a new book). Because of the price of Audible books, I have had a tendency to relisten to old favorites rather than always download something new--but no longer!

    I am able to download up to ten audiobooks at once, and I have them for my listening pleasure for up to two weeks. While I can't say that I'm saving $105 per month (the cost of three full-price audiobooks), I'm certainly saving at least $20-$35 per month, since that was about how often I would download a new title. Also--since it's much more difficult to determine if an audiobook is going to be to your taste, I'm "wasting" fewer downloads that I listen to for 2 or so hours before deciding I just don't like them. Since they were free, it just doesn't matter!

    While I still have hope that my smart phone will save me money at the grocery store, I'm pretty thrilled at how much it's saving me in audiobook costs. (After all, if my coupon apps saved me $35 per month, I'd consider them to be wildly successful).

    How does your smart phone save you money?

  • The Breakfast Rut

    Photo courtesy of Alisdair McDiarmid

     

    We are experiencing a breakfast rut.

    This is new territory for me. I'm quite familiar with the dinner rut. That 5:30 dread wherein you realize that if you serve spaghetti and meatballs yet again you will be facing a family mutiny. (And not the fun kind when someone actually takes over the cooking for you. This is more Mutiny on the Whiny than on the Bounty).

    Because I have experienced many a dinner rut, I know the fix: Pinterest! (Actually, Pinterest is the fix to every problem and non-problem in my life, as I've mentioned). But really, the only way to get out of a dinner rut is to find some new delicious recipes to add into the rotation, and Pinterest is an excellent place to find those new recipes.

    Breakfast, however, is a horse of a different color.

    That's partially because our society has somewhat arbitrarily decided that only certain foods can be consumed prior to 8 am. Eggs, cereal, toast, bacon, sausage, smoothies, hash browns, orange juice, and the like are all either unwelcome or looked at askance on a lunch or dinner plate.

    Of course, that is only part of the breakfast rut problem. The other issue is timing. When I am making dinner, if the recipe takes 30 minutes to complete, it's no big thing. But weekday breakfasts tend to be rushed affairs where speed is prized over delicacy.

    Now all of my go-to quick breakfasts (smoothies, scrambled eggs, omelets, celery with peanut butter, fresh juice, frozen waffles with peanut butter, bagels, fruit with yogurt, cereal...) are played out, and I am left scrambling to figure out something to eat every morning.

    Thankfully, this has not really affected the rest of the family. J has a tendency to grab some leftovers for breakfast, because he laughs at society's breakfast conventions. LO has recently discovered the unadulterated joy that is bacon (we won't tell him that the real stuff tastes even better than the turkey bacon we eat), and will happily eat that for breakfast every single morning. And BB is so thrilled to be eating anything solid (that is, smearing anything solid in his hair) that he hasn't noticed my breakfast rut.

    So I am left picking half-heartedly at some fruit and stealing some of LO's bacon before eating lunch at 10:30 every morning.

    I'm hopeful something in my breakfast rotation will appeal again soon. It's tough to be the captain and the breakfast mutineer at the same time.

     

    What do you do when you get into a meal rut? Do you have any unusual go-to breakfasts?

  • The Ministry of Silly Banking Rules

     Just 11 more years, and this baby is all ours!

     

    Last week, we received our escrow account statement letter from our mortgage lender. (Don't worry, it gets more interesting. I promise.)

    For the first time in the four years we've lived here, our escrow amount has gone down. Our monthly payment will be lower over the next year, and there was apparently a surplus of $97 and change, so they cut us a check. (Life would be easier if they had just *applied* the dang surplus to our next payment, but clearly nobody asked me.)

    I believe I have mentioned before that I am the official PIC (that's person in charge) of banking in this household, which might give you an inkling into the trouble ahead in this story.

    Since I was out and about yesterday, I decided to deposit the check. Since I had BB with me, I decided to simply go through the drive-through ATM. The check is made out to both J and myself, which I believed meant that either one of us could endorse it. It is also for less than $100 of (and I cannot state this strongly enough) OUR MONEY that we overpaid.

    Well, I got a phone call from a lovely woman at our local bank branch this morning. Apparently, both J and I need to have endorsed the check in order to deposit it. I suspect that if we had a joint account, that would probably be less necessary, but whatever.

    That's not the ridiculous part.

    No, the ridiculous part is that J will now have to go into our local bank branch *with his photo ID* in order to endorse this check.

    Since the reason I am PIC of banking is because I work from home and J works at an office--an environment wherein errand-running on company time is generally frowned upon--I asked if I could possibly come pick up the check and have J sign it this evening and I will re-deposit it tomorrow.

    I got a big yes on that one.

    So J needs to show his ID to prove that he's my husband because I might otherwise have some random man come in to endorse a less-than $100 check for fraudulent purposes in order to deposit said check into an account that is linked to my husband's account. But having me pick up the check, get it endorsed by my husband, and then bring it back, without my also checking J's ID prior to his endorsement is a-ok.

    It's exhausting just thinking about how dang complicated a criminal's nefarious schemes must be.

    I'm not actually mad at my bank or the lovely banker who called. She's just doing her job and these rules are certainly there for a reason.

    It all just feels a little ludicrous

     

    Have you ever run afoul of a silly rule at your bank?

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