Category Archives: Saving money

A DVR without a subscription

What if I told you that you could have a DVR without a subscription that worked with free over-the-air antenna-based TV, and it cost less than $35, saving those subscription fees month after month?

It’s called the Mediasonic Homeworx HW180STB. If you want to record and time-shift television without loss of quality and without paying a fortune in subscription fees, it’s a tremendous value. You have to provide an antenna–which you can even make yourself–and USB-based storage, but it means you can get whatever capacity you want, and if you fill up a drive, just get another one.

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Save money on appliances

If you want to save money on appliances, I have some unconventional advice: Buy used. Yes, really. Here’s how to buy used (or refurbished) appliances and save big money without getting ripped off.

I’ve had a number of friends get hit recently with appliance breakdowns they couldn’t afford, and since I’m a landlord, I’ve probably bought a lifetime’s worth of appliances in the last seven years. A dead appliance doesn’t have to turn into a financial catastrophe.

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Here’s a better laptop than the typical Black Friday specials

If you want a better laptop than the typical Black Friday special, I found just the thing: this Dell Latitude E6420 laptop from Newegg, for $225 (the price is good through Sunday, Nov. 22). It has several things going for it: it comes with Windows 7 Professional, so you can upgrade to Windows 10 when you want and you’ll get the better, more-feature-filled, easier-to-secure Professional version; you can upgrade the memory to 8 GB of RAM, and it comes with a 128GB SATA SSD, so you can drop in a bigger, faster SSD at a later date.

Note: When Newegg sells out of these, which happens occasionally, they’re fairly easy to find on Ebay, though some come with conventional hard drives rather than SSDs.

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Plywood floors for a hardwood look at around $1 per sqft

A comment over at Lifehacker got me thinking about plywood as flooring, which led me to a blog post at Quarry Orchard. The author is one of many people who have had success making floors out of strips cut from ordinary 4×8 sheets of plywood, the variety that sell for around $14 at home improvement stores.

I’d be a bit concerned about durability but there’s a lot to like about the idea as well.

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How to test whether your TV has a digital HDTV tuner in it

If you’re thinking about canceling your cable TV subscription to save money, you might be worried about buying an antenna, only to find your TV isn’t capable of receiving over-the-air broadcasts.

If you live near a major metro area though, you can test it with a one-cent paper clip.

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Twelve percent.

Last week, a former classmate shared a Dave Ramsey article about early savings. Ramsey stated a teenager could save a couple thousand a year, stop saving in their 20s, and still retire a multimillionaire. I agree with the sentiment completely, but I’m concerned that Ramsey overstates how rich that person can expect to become.

Ramsey’s favored investment vehicle is a mutual fund that tracks the S&P 500.

The problem with the article is that he assumed an annual return on investment of 12 percent, which is well above every reasonable historical estimate I’ve ever heard of S&P 500 rates of return. Forbes agrees. Ramsey is basing his number on a subset of history, not all available history.

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The Altair 837016 LED outdoor fixture from Costco

My front porch lights sustained damage in a recent storm, so I looked to replace them. Costco offers the Altair 837016 for about $38, and it has two energy-saving features: It turns itself off if it’s light outside, and it uses LEDs that deliver 950 lumens while consuming 10.5 watts.

And they do it while looking like $40 lights. You can also buy them from Amazon if there isn’t a Costco near you.

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Fare thee well, Super Civic. And thanks for everything.

Last week, at about 238,000 miles, we traded my wife’s 2002 Honda Civic. It was good to us.

She drove that car the night we first met. It was the car we drove home after we got married. We drove our dog home from the Humane Society in it, I drove her to the hospital in it, and we drove our two boys home from the hospital in it. When a car lasts 13 years, it gets to participate in a lot I guess.

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Philips’ new LED bulbs are cheap but have caveats

Later this week, Philips will be releasing a new, cheap LED bulb at an introductory rate of $5 for a pack of two. They are 800 lumen bulbs, equivalent to a 60w incandescent in light output, use 8.5 watts to give off an impressive 94 lumens per watt, and have a color temperature of 2700K that’s comparable to a soft white incandescent.

Sound good? It ought to, but there’s a catch. Often there is.

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