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The following review was written by Amy – a busy working mother of two children. If you’d like to share your thoughts on a service or product you’ve tried, please let us know. Some of the links on this page may contain affiliate links and we may receive compensation if a purchase is made – at no cost to you. Please read our disclosure for more info.

As a full-time working mom of two kiddos, I appreciate anything that can save me time and/or money. Something that can do both is the Holy Grail. I am a diehard Amazon Prime member, we get groceries delivered, and have someone clean our house.

Needless to say, I do not shy away from paying for convenience.

When I heard about Dyper, a subscription-based diaper service, I was very intrigued. Could this be the next big thing to help a tired mama out? I’ve tried Amazon Subscribe and Save in the past, which offers great discounts on name-brand diapers, but never stuck with it. Estimating how many diapers you’ll need each month, in what size, is tricky business that I don’t have time for. I was often left needing diapers before my subscription was anywhere near shipping. Every working mom knows the panic that sets in when daycare sends a note that they need more diapers and your supply at home is tapped out. Enter the emergency trip to Target!

As a Dyper user, I don’t need to waste my lunch hour getting diapers because they have a genius SOS feature, where they’ll send you an extra week upon request to bridge the gap between subscription shipments. My only complaint is that it can only be used twice per year…so you still must try to plan accordingly.

To be honest, I have no idea how much money I typically spend on diapers in a month. It’s not something I want to spend time tracking (because it’s sad!). With my first, after the newborn period, I switched to generic brand diapers and never looked back.

With my daughter, a happy six month old, I tried to do the same thing and she was NOT having it. She clearly has more sensitive skin and the generic brand caused a rash to flare up whenever I tried to switch to them.

Our Dyper trial experience

I was really excited about the Dyper bamboo diapers because they are natural and have no chlorine, latex, alcohol, perfumes, PVC, lotions, TBT or Phthalates. $64 a month seemed reasonable for a soft, safe diaper for my little girl’s tush. Especially when it shows up at my door automatically.

It was super easy to sign up online and start my subscription. The biggest decision to make is what size to order since the Dyper sizing is not the same as conventional diapers. My baby girl is 6 months old and was transitioning from size 2 to size 3 so I opted for the Dyper medium (13-22lbs) and they fit her well, with plenty of room to grow. Once I got all that figured out, I confirmed my subscription and paid with a credit card. I immediately got confirmation emails and was notified when the diapers had shipped.

They arrived about a week after ordering, and upon opening the package I was pleased to see the clean, simple white diapers staring back at me.

I really enjoy minimalist design, so a diaper without patterns or colors is easy on my eyes and they work well under plain white onesies. I immediately opened them and grabbed one of our current diapers to compare. They felt soft and sturdy. My husband commented that they felt thicker, like they would hold up well.

There was no odor like the odor the Pampers diaper was giving off. We both liked the idea that we were helping our planet by using something that will biodegrade faster than traditional disposables.

I sent a few packs to daycare and kept the rest at home for myself. After a few weeks of use, I can say they are unremarkable in all the good ways. No smells or persistent issues. My girl has not gotten any diaper rashes during their use, which is a huge win! In one month we had three blow-outs, which is also a wonderfully unremarkable thing. Of course, zero blow-outs is ideal, but highly unlikely. So for us, this blow-out rate is in line with the other disposable diapers we’ve used.

My little lady in Dypers My impressions

My first impression of sturdy and thick soon turned to bulky upon day-in and day-out use. Because they are a tad thicker, they do add a bit of bulk to my daughter’s backside and crotch area. Every parent knows the ‘crotch check’ where we pat them to see how full the diaper is to determine whether it needs to be changed. With Dyper, the bulk throws off the baseline so sometimes I’ll go to change her and she’s still dry, even though it seemed like it could be full. I assume over time a user would get familiar with their dry/wet state so a quick pat would let them know.

A look at some of Dyper’s features (courtesy of Dyper)

My biggest complaint is that sometimes if the diaper is quite full, it almost feels damp on the outside, like it is seeping all the way through. This is probably the biggest reason why I won’t continue to use Dyper. I do not like the feeling of a squishy, full, damp bottom when I pick up my daughter. Of course, any diaper will be big and full when left for too long, but the bamboo component seems unable to hold it all in without a final sealant layer.

This is a good time to bring up the fact that I wouldn’t dare put her in one of these overnight. We use special overnight diapers for that, but not everyone will buy two separate types of diapers (day and night) so if you want one diaper brand to pull both day and night duty, this is not the one.

All in all, I think Dyper is on to something, but they need to do some tweaking. When I cancelled my subscription (which was very easy to do, thank you Dyper) I received an email confirming the cancellation and they highlighted that they are working on Dyper Version 2 with 16%-20% increased absorption rate, larger side tape, and a front tape area with grip.

Sounds like they are listening to customers and truly trying to make a terrific product that can also help our planet.

Read what Ruser has to say about his year with cloth diapers.

Pros
  • Clean, bright white appearance
  • No chlorine, latex, alcohol, perfumes, PVC, lotions, TBT or Phthalates
  • Wetness indicator that lets you know when diaper needs changing
  • Good for the environment
  • Delivered to your door
Cons
  • Bulky fit
  • When full, become damp(ish) on the outside
  • Pricier than generic brands

Have you ever tried Dyper or having your diapers delivered by subscription?

Try-out Dyper for $64/month
Get a FREE diaper bag with your first subsciption trial – limited time / availability

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqK5W2AVJNI

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The following review was written by Amy – a busy working mother of two children. If you’d like to share your thoughts on a service or product you’ve tried, please let us know. Some of the links on this page may contain affiliate links and we may receive compensation if a purchase is made – at no cost to you. Please read our disclosure for more info.

As a full-time working mom of two kiddos, I appreciate anything that can save me time and/or money. Something that can do both is the Holy Grail. I am a diehard Amazon Prime member, we get groceries delivered, and have someone clean our house.

Needless to say, I do not shy away from paying for convenience.

When I heard about Dyper, a subscription-based diaper service, I was very intrigued. Could this be the next big thing to help a tired mama out? I’ve tried Amazon Subscribe and Save in the past, which offers great discounts on name-brand diapers, but never stuck with it. Estimating how many diapers you’ll need each month, in what size, is tricky business that I don’t have time for. I was often left needing diapers before my subscription was anywhere near shipping. Every working mom knows the panic that sets in when daycare sends a note that they need more diapers and your supply at home is tapped out. Enter the emergency trip to Target!

As a Dyper user, I don’t need to waste my lunch hour getting diapers because they have a genius SOS feature, where they’ll send you an extra week upon request to bridge the gap between subscription shipments. My only complaint is that it can only be used twice per year…so you still must try to plan accordingly.

To be honest, I have no idea how much money I typically spend on diapers in a month. It’s not something I want to spend time tracking (because it’s sad!). With my first, after the newborn period, I switched to generic brand diapers and never looked back.

With my daughter, a happy six month old, I tried to do the same thing and she was NOT having it. She clearly has more sensitive skin and the generic brand caused a rash to flare up whenever I tried to switch to them.

Our Dyper trial experience

I was really excited about the Dyper bamboo diapers because they are natural and have no chlorine, latex, alcohol, perfumes, PVC, lotions, TBT or Phthalates. $64 a month seemed reasonable for a soft, safe diaper for my little girl’s tush. Especially when it shows up at my door automatically.

It was super easy to sign up online and start my subscription. The biggest decision to make is what size to order since the Dyper sizing is not the same as conventional diapers. My baby girl is 6 months old and was transitioning from size 2 to size 3 so I opted for the Dyper medium (13-22lbs) and they fit her well, with plenty of room to grow. Once I got all that figured out, I confirmed my subscription and paid with a credit card. I immediately got confirmation emails and was notified when the diapers had shipped.

They arrived about a week after ordering, and upon opening the package I was pleased to see the clean, simple white diapers staring back at me.

I really enjoy minimalist design, so a diaper without patterns or colors is easy on my eyes and they work well under plain white onesies. I immediately opened them and grabbed one of our current diapers to compare. They felt soft and sturdy. My husband commented that they felt thicker, like they would hold up well.

There was no odor like the odor the Pampers diaper was giving off. We both liked the idea that we were helping our planet by using something that will biodegrade faster than traditional disposables.

I sent a few packs to daycare and kept the rest at home for myself. After a few weeks of use, I can say they are unremarkable in all the good ways. No smells or persistent issues. My girl has not gotten any diaper rashes during their use, which is a huge win! In one month we had three blow-outs, which is also a wonderfully unremarkable thing. Of course, zero blow-outs is ideal, but highly unlikely. So for us, this blow-out rate is in line with the other disposable diapers we’ve used.

My little lady in Dypers My impressions

My first impression of sturdy and thick soon turned to bulky upon day-in and day-out use. Because they are a tad thicker, they do add a bit of bulk to my daughter’s backside and crotch area. Every parent knows the ‘crotch check’ where we pat them to see how full the diaper is to determine whether it needs to be changed. With Dyper, the bulk throws off the baseline so sometimes I’ll go to change her and she’s still dry, even though it seemed like it could be full. I assume over time a user would get familiar with their dry/wet state so a quick pat would let them know.

A look at some of Dyper’s features (courtesy of Dyper)

My biggest complaint is that sometimes if the diaper is quite full, it almost feels damp on the outside, like it is seeping all the way through. This is probably the biggest reason why I won’t continue to use Dyper. I do not like the feeling of a squishy, full, damp bottom when I pick up my daughter. Of course, any diaper will be big and full when left for too long, but the bamboo component seems unable to hold it all in without a final sealant layer.

This is a good time to bring up the fact that I wouldn’t dare put her in one of these overnight. We use special overnight diapers for that, but not everyone will buy two separate types of diapers (day and night) so if you want one diaper brand to pull both day and night duty, this is not the one.

All in all, I think Dyper is on to something, but they need to do some tweaking. When I cancelled my subscription (which was very easy to do, thank you Dyper) I received an email confirming the cancellation and they highlighted that they are working on Dyper Version 2 with 16%-20% increased absorption rate, larger side tape, and a front tape area with grip.

Sounds like they are listening to customers and truly trying to make a terrific product that can also help our planet.

Read what Ruser has to say about his year with cloth diapers.

Pros
  • Clean, bright white appearance
  • No chlorine, latex, alcohol, perfumes, PVC, lotions, TBT or Phthalates
  • Wetness indicator that lets you know when diaper needs changing
  • Good for the environment
  • Delivered to your door
Cons
  • Bulky fit
  • When full, become damp(ish) on the outside
  • Pricier than generic brands

Have you ever tried Dyper or having your diapers delivered by subscription?

Try-out Dyper for $64/month
Get a FREE diaper bag with your first subsciption trial – limited time / availability

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqK5W2AVJNI

You might also be interested in:
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Everyone likes to be the first to discover the next hit band or hot fad. But something I get a kick out is discovering that next big stock.

So, I like to watch the soon-to-launch IPOs (Initial Public Offerings) available at the Nasdaq website. It’s fun to see who is going public and if they have a potential to be a hot stock.

While I don’t typically purchase individual stocks – I will from time to time, if one strikes my fancy. One that I had fun purchasing many years ago, was Krispy Kreme. I purchased it after living out in California for a season and seeing how popular the doughnuts were there. When I moved back to the Midwest and Krispy Kreme decided to go public, I jumped on their stock. It was more of a hunch than any deep dive into their financials.

And, boy, it took off. It was shortly after the dot.com bubble burst and folks began eating some of their sorrows away in dougnuts (among other things).

I think a lot of buying stocks is about being a good observer of human behavior.

Waiting on IPOs to cool off?

Recently UBER has been the news with their IPO. Priced at $45/share last Friday – they closed their first day of trading $41. Not a great first day, but you never know if folks were just a bit skeptical of it with unhappy contractors and several lawsuits in the works.

According to Gizmodo, UBER is one of the worst performing IPOs in history. Yikes.

The LA Times recently did a fun look at IPOs after their first 60 days and added a interactive game you can play to see when the best time to buy that stock was. They profile 7 “next big thing” stocks and it is interesting to see the low point for that stock.

And for most, it wasn’t the first day (or even first several days) after listing.

Here’s a look at Facebook – who struggled for quite a while to get their footing:

Facebook after 60 days of IPO

Now trading at $188, any purchase during that first 60 days would have done you well today – but it’s interesting here to note how far it fell from its initial price of $40+ to a low of $20.

How about UBER‘s competitor, Lyft? How did they fare during their first days after launch (while not quite 60 days, since it went public in April).

Lyft’s 60 days after IPO

With almost a $90 evaluation, their low point was at $56.11. Just Friday (5/10), it was trading at $51. And, it’s possible to go lower after UBER’s dismal showing.

So, all this excitement around IPOs, may just be media hype / or the company’s marketing or PR efforts.

Financials are important

After my coworker alerted me to a the Impossible Burger at White Castles (it’s tasty for not being meat), I went out and purchased Beyond Meat’s brats from Whole Foods. Boy, was I surprised at how close these “fake” meat products are getting to the real thing. They even look like meat!

Beyond Meat is one of several plant-based meat substitute products out there. It seems to fill a niche for people looking for an alternative to meat and could be less of an impact on the environment.

Their stock listed at about $65 earlier this month and is still only about a dollar more since. After showing the promising stock find to my accountant friend, Dave, he brought me down to earth showing me how much money they’re losing.

It’s amazing to me that a lot of these IPOs aren’t making money. Take Lyft for example. They don’t anticipate profitability until 2024.

I guess I always think of Amazon. For years they never showed a profit and yet remained a darling to investors. I guess if you stuck with ’em during those lean years – you’d be doing alright today.

Moral of the story

Though its fun to spot the next big stock on the horizon – I think it’s just important to get started in investing. Whether that be through your employer, via a 401k or the like – there is no time like the present.

Do you watch IPOs? What’s one stock pick you are proud of?

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For those of you who may be in need of a Mother’s Day card today, we’ve got you covered. We’re offering a one-of-a-kind, ThreeThriftyGuys.com original.

Just click on the link below and you can print out your card directly to your printer. Works on black and white or color and folds to a 4.25 x 5.5″ card from a letter-sized page.

Couple things to note:
  • Make sure you have “Actual Size” selected in your printers settings – not fit to print.
  • Created in CMYK not RGB (so it may be a bit brighter when printed if you have RGB printer.
  • Fold in the middle 2x on landscape, as well as portrait to get the right size. It should look like the picture above with our address on the back (sorry we gotta get a little kudos for ourselves).  
  • Enjoy!

Don’t tell us we never did anything for you! Thank you to all the mothers out there! We  ya.

Download Mother’s Day Card

After you download the card, you may want to see if you can save any money on your cell phone bill. Read how one of the Thrifty Guys is paying under $15/mo. for his cell phone.




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I’ve always dreamed of being a secret shopper. It’s the closest I’ll ever come to seeing my fantasy of being an undercover spy like Jason Bourne come to fruition. Going undercover to infiltrate foreign governments…going to Runza and checking restroom cleanliness…pretty similar right? Since I’ve recently upgraded to a smartphone (yes, the date on this post is correct…I owned a flip phone until March), my dream has become a reality with the iSecretShop app.

I was referred to the app by a colleague who said she earned some quick cash doing random secret shopping assignments in her free time. I looked into it and gave it a shot this past month. Here are my initial experiences and observations.



Secret shopping is fun!

Maybe it’s the geeky fantasy about being a spy, but it’s fun to walk into a store with an objective and not be able to tell anybody what you’re doing. I’m sure it’s what James Bond feels like when he goes to Famous Dave’s with a top-secret mission.

Secret shopping is flexible

The iSecretShop app just provides opportunities in my area for assignments. I decide if and when I’ll complete the assignment. I’m really hoping the next update to the app will have a recording that says, “your mission, should you choose to accept it…”. A guy can dream, right?

Secret shopping takes time

Most assignments require a thorough investigation. When I completed an assignment at Runza, answering the questions took close to 25 minutes. What did the outside advertisements say? Were the window sills clean? Did a person greet you within 10 seconds of arrival? Were the paper towels properly stocked? The life of a spy isn’t easy!

Secret shopping provides a nice “bonus” income

Each assignment either provides a reimbursement based on a receipt or a direct compensation amount to cover costs plus additional cash. Since iSecretShop deals with different consumer agencies, the method of payment varies. Most payments are paid via PayPal. Not to blow my cover, but here are the places I was a secret shopper, how much I was compensated, and how long the assignments took.

Location Compensation Time
Runza $13 30 minutes
Prairie Life Fitness $20 45 minutes
Cox Internet $5 5 minutes (from home)
McDonald’s $7 1 hour
Famous Dave’s Full compensation for $20 meal. 1 hour

As you can tell from the chart, each assignment paid differently. Each assignment’s tasks were very different as well. The only assignment I regret taking is the McDonald’s one because it required me to basically list all of the prices from the menu board. To do this, I had up to set up shop right in front of the restaurant and awkwardly gawk at the screens for long periods of time. Don’t worry, I disguised my true intentions in a way that would make even The Condor proud.

I’d recommend checking out the iSecretShop app if you’re like me and want to be thrifty and sneaky.

What about you? Have you had any good or bad experiences as a secret shopper?

Matthew’s three-year review of Ting Mobile is just as entertaining. Check it out

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This email interview was first published in 2012. Please place any financial advice given at this time in its proper context.

There are a few people who really intrigue me – and one of those on that list is Ronald Wayne. I wrote a little blurb about Wayne last year after I learned about him leaving Apple early in its infancy. He sold his shares of the company for about $2,300.

There is a lot to the man – and I had a few questions for him. He was gracious enough to reply to my questions and the following are his responses, verbatim.  While mostly known for his association with Apple, Wayne has quite a background, with numerous patents to his name and has a strong interest in economic and financial matters.

You are most recognized for your helping to start Apple – although this is really only a small part of your life so far. You have quite a few inventions to your name. Which one are you most proud of?

This is a most unusual question, and you may find my response to be a bit unexpected.  In 1972 I was granted a patent (3,727,214) covering a concept which led directly to two significant technological developments (at that time).  The most immediate was a device which represented the first major improvement in analog electric meters (pointer-type electric meters) since the invention of such meters by D’Arsenval in the 1850s.  My meter design totally eliminated the three principle faults of the D’Asenval movement, “hunt”, “lag” and “hysteresis”.  The same concept formed the core of a device which I called a “Ground Reference Indicator”.  In the operation of light aircraft, the most dangerous maneuver is landing, particularly with a low-wing aircraft, since the pilot is then unable to see the ground, and no instrument currently on his dashboard will help him.  My device, however, would provide such a dashboard instrument.  An instrument which would read out the height of his wheels above the runway, in feet and inches.  Due to lack of funding, however, neither of these devices were ever put into production.

At the same time, the most successful device I ever created was a cylindrical, in-line cable selector switch, which I designed, prototyped, and personally saw through production (of 3000 units).  This product was a custom development for the U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center in Indianapolis, for use by the U.S. Marine Corps.  At the time, I was Chief Engineer for Thor Electronics of California, and this project proved to yield the most profitable product the company had produced, in its 40 year history.  You will find a detailed discussion of these, and other products and inventions I’d been responsible for, in my recently published autobiography, “Adventures of an Apple Founder”.  This book is currently available in paperback from Amazon.com, or can be had electronically via Kindle or iTunes.

How would you describe Steve Jobs? Has his success surprised you?

I think it’s fairly obvious that the magnitude of any success, such as that achieved by Steve Jobs, is certainly remarkable and surprising in and of itself.  But the fact that Jobs would succeed at anything he might turn his hand and mind to, was no surprise to me at all.  I can say, without qualification, that even during our time together at Atari, he was the most focused and determined person I’d ever met in my life.  That single-mindedness, linked to an incredible intellect foretold success at any effort he’d make.  Its important to understand why the linkage between Jobs and Wozniak was so astonishingly successful.  As it happens, Woz is not only a genius, but also incredibly whimsical.  His motivation in creating the basic personal computer was for the sheer pleasure of the experience – but it was Jobs who had both the vision and the drive to turn it into the core of a great industry.

You don’t seem bitter or jealous about Apple’s success or having left it early on. How have you maintained this generous spirit?

Generosity has nothing to do with it.  There were a number of reasons behind my decision to withdraw from that partnership, all explained in detail in my autobiography, and many of them also have been expressed in a number of interviews I’ve experienced.  In brief, there was a very real risk that was evident in a startup “company”, when I was the only one, of the three of us, who had attachable assets.  Not that this was a very serious risk, since it seemed obvious to me that the enterprise would surely succeed.  But at the same time, I was in my 40s, and these kids were in their 20s.  It was like having a tiger by the tail, and it was equally obvious that while it would surely succeed, it would also be a very bumpy ride.

Then there was the issue of what I knew of Jobs’ expectations of me, in the coming enterprise.  It was obvious that he would want me to duplicate the documentation (and other administrative successes) which I’d demonstrated at Atari, but then to the benefit of Apple.  Essentially, I felt that while my capacity for creativity was not equal to theirs, I still had my own “spark of divine fire”, and didn’t exactly see my self administering a documentation crew for the rest of my days.

In short, my decision was based on the circumstances as I saw them.  And finally, I’ve held a philosophy all my life, of not wasting my “todays” and “tomorrows”, wringing my hands over decisions I made yesterday.  If those decisions were right, then I’d enjoy the rewards, and if they were wrong, the best I could do was to learn from that experience.

You’ve written a book called, The Nature of Money – in which you talk about the eventual collapse of the dollar. How do you think this will happen?

I would, of course, encourage you get a copy of that book, entitled “Insolence of Office”.  It is the product of roughly forty years of focused attention to the nature of our world, and of two particular aspects of that world.

A major interest was to understand the history and evolution of governance, starting with the origin of kingdoms and leading to the ultimate evolution, our Constitutional Republic.  I’ve come to the conclusion that a major source of today’s distorted politics is the public’s almost complete lack of understanding of the forces which shaped the creation of our Constitution.

This reality, coupled with that public’s equal lack of historical knowledge, has allowed that public to be hoodwinked into voting against their own best interests.  In short, encouragement of the public’s political enlightenment, was the motive behind my writing of the first two-thirds of that book.  The final third of the book is composed of a treatise I originally composed more than twenty-five years ago, which effectively anticipated today’s worldwide economic situation, and essentially foresees where we’re going from here.

The thesis is a simple one.  I start with the irrefutable fact that gold and silver had been the successful basis for the world’s currencies for more than 3000 years, and then (in simple English) I outline the “mechanics” of that truth.  My discussion than goes on to describe how the hellish cost of World War II effectively drove every major Country on Earth into bankruptcy, as evidenced by the proceedings of the Bretton-Woods conference of 1944.  The effect of that conference was to encourage the world’s governments to abandon “metals-based” currency for the “comfortable latitude” of fiat money.  In short – worthless paper.

The result (which can be readily confirmed by a simple Google search), from then to now, has been a worldwide inflation of 2500% to 4000%, exactly as predicted by the writings of Adam Smith, in his book “Wealth of Nations”, published in 1775.  This worldwide inflation is now progressing “geometrically”.  In other words, a progress which mathematically projects a worldwide monetary collapse – leading inevitably to a return to the inherent stability of gold and silver.  And why is gold and silver the basis of such monetary stability?  Simple!  The supply of these metals is beyond political influence to recreate!   Metal currency cannot inflate!  Again, for the complete discussion of this issue, together with all of the historical facts and demonstrable evidence, please read Chapter V of Insolence of Office.

I’ve read that a lot of your wealth is in precious metals. Is this something you would recommend to others as well?

For a start, I cannot describe my holdings as “wealth”, by any stretch of the imagination.  But yes, all of my “long term savings” is in metal, and has been for more than forty years.  And yes, again.  Anyone who hopes to survive the coming economic tsunumi, which both history and evidence dictates is poised to envelop us, had better convert their savings from “dollar-denominated anything”, into metal.

I further suggest, that while gold will rise spectacularly in “buying power”, under the influence of events to come, silver’s rise in buying power will be twice as great.  The reason for this prediction is simple.  When the world is forced back to the stability of metal-based currency, governments will once more be compelled to strike silver “street coin”.  The governments of pre-World War II, all struck silver coin, which represented a huge demand on the silver market – and it was this demand that established the pre-WWII silver-gold ratio, of 16:1 worldwide.  That is – one ounce of gold was equal to sixteen ounces of silver – a ratio that had stood for more than 300 years.  It was the abandonment of governmentally struck silver street coin, following WWII, that has since seen that ratio oscillate from 40:1 to 80:1 and back again, many times.  The current ratio is roughly 40:1

What do you feel is the most important issue folks should be addressing or doing with their personal finances?

Let me start this response by relating my impression that the Bretton-Woods conference (of 1944), essentially set the “scenario” for the world’s economy for the following hundred years – but not the “dialog”.  By “dialog”, I mean the precise details of how that scenario would play out.  As things currently stand, we are already at the brink edge of the noted collapse, which can now be triggered by any number of specific events.  For example, one such event could have been (or might be, in the future) the U.S. Government’s failure to raise its arbitrary “debt ceiling” (which would then trigger a massive default on this country’s financial obligations [debts]).  What that trigger will actually consist of, is totally unknown – except that such a trigger is now certain to occur, most probably through a foolish political mistake or mis-judgement.  Naturally, the inventive machinations in world politics will endeavor to avoid such a trigger at all possible cost, until the last possible moment.  But as a result, the longer that it takes for that collapse to occur, the more severe will be the crash that follows.  As to “when” that event might be – who knows.  Five years?  Two years?  Six months?  Or perhaps a week from Tuesday.

What should people be doing now?  In my opinion, they should rush to take advantage of what ever time remains, to convert what ever long-term savings they have into metal, and more particularly, into silver.  More over, in my view, stocking up on food and guns (or whatever) is a foolish failure to recognize, that the United States is still the most productive country in the world, which currently feeds one-forth of the world’s population.  When the collapse finally occurs, those who possess the “buying power”, will then be in a perfect position to buy anything (or any one) they want.

Though you speak of the demise of the dollar – do you see in light at the end of the tunnel – any hope for saving it?

Since the predictions of Adam Smith (1775), in regard to fiat currency has thus far proven flawless, and recognizing the worldwide inflation of all of the world’s currencies, to now be progressing geometrically – do you see any way of avoiding a worldwide return to hard money?  The tragedy is that since it is inherent in the nature of politics, and of politicians, to “live in the eternal now”, our leadership (which should be looking ahead to this reality) has simply chosen to ignore the inescapable evidence which my writings now outline.   And worldwide, they will twist and turn and manipulate in any futile attempt, “to make 17 cents add up to a dollar”.  This leadership is determined to lead us all over the edge – like lemmings to the sea.

In consequence we must individually secure our own affairs, first by understanding the “mechanics” of currency, and through that understanding, realize that what we must “save” is “BUYING POWER” (not paper money) – and by that means, to save in any form of “media” that preserves that buying power – namely, gold and silver.  To do anything else, is to “cut the anchor chain – and then go down with the anchor”.

You can find out more about Wayne at his website and through his new book entitled, “Adventures of an Apple Founder“.

Some graphics provided by Vecteezy.com

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While I don’t think we need to be consumed with our credit scores, they are a necessary evil for the lot of us.

So, unless are debt-free and have gobs of money in the bank, your credit score will be something that follows you around for the purchase of a home and/or car (among other things) if you choose financing. Add to this fact, there are quite a few misunderstandings around what (or does not) affect your credit score.

I recently came across a Consumer Report article discussing some of these myths and truths surrounding what does / doesn’t hurt your score. Thought it was interesting and hopefully will ease your mind when it comes to some of the more discussed topics about what different activities affect your score.

Feel free to chime in about some other lesser known credit score myths / truths.

Applying for multiple credit cards

In the personal finance blogging world, there are a few advocates of applying for credit cards to earn rewards / earn money.

While we’re not in the camp that recommends this practice, I’ve done this myself – and have been able to benefit from some of the offerings out there.

And, it’s probably not a surprise this practice hurts your credit score. It signals to the credit reporting agencies you could be in financial / credit trouble.

Unpaid parking / traffic tickets and library fees

Apparently there is some discrepancy on these two. Many people are under the assumption that unpaid parking and traffic tickets could affect ones credit score. But, according to Consumer Reports, this is not so. Municipal records are no longer collected by any of the credit reporting agencies.

Along with this are those unpaid library fees that you forgot about from when you were in 2nd grade. These too, are not collected by the bureaus.

Whew (I think I still have a .75 cent fee on mine).

Late payments

Think no one will notice when you don’t pay that bill on time?

“Just one late payment can hurt your score and will remain seven years from the date of the missed payment,” Rod Griffin of Experian said in the Consumer Report article.

I typically set up all my bills in Google Calendar. This way I will get an alert of the ones I haven’t set-up to autopay.

It’s important to know the grace period on your bills – just in case you need it. Typically with mortgage payments, you have about 15-20 days from the due date to pay up (before non-payment is reported). I know there is some grace given on student loans too.

Checking your credit score (a lot)

This is another myth that seems to have been perpetuated.

While it is an aggregate score from some of the other bureaus, Credit Karma‘s score they provide is very close to what you can expect from FICO. I typically get emails from them when my score has gone up / down. It’s a very helpful and free service.

Takes a long time for your score to go bad

According to The Balance, it only really takes a few months of missed payments to affect your score.

At six months past due, your account will be charged off – which is one of the worst things you can do to your credit rating. Multiple charge-offs or collections can ruin it for good.

Employers check credit scores

It is actually against the law for employers to check your score.

But, they can check your credit report.

Going into debt to create a good credit score

When I first started out and learning about all things personal finance, I was under the impression that I’d need to “hold” debt to create a decent score.

The truth is that just opening up a credit card, charging an amount to it and then paying it off each month, will help generate your credit score.

Can you think of other credit score myths you’ve run into or have experience with?

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Thought we would republish this post from several years ago, as it still has good information about how to lower your cable bill with Xfinity (formerly Comcast). Hope it helps!

A couple weeks ago we got a notice in the mail that our Comcast (Xfinity) cable bill was going up by about $50. Apparently they had mistakenly extended our promotional period  (I don’t know how that happened) and needed to start billing us what they should have been charging us the last 6 months or so.

Of course – we knew this letter (or one like it) would be arriving at our mailbox soon. It’s just a bit of a surprise when it comes. I guess what I thought was most troubling was they disguised the increase as a mistake of theirs and assured us they wouldn’t be charging us for that error (Thanks!).



I’ve written before about my attempts at lowering my Comcast bill by touting our good customer status and loyalty. But, it didn’t really go as planned.

Then, I happened upon a special that Financial Expert Jean Chatzky did on the Today show.  She polled her readers what one thing they most would like to save money on. The answer: how to lower my cable bill.

The answer didn’t surprise. Getting a good rate (and a consistent one at that) is no easy task.

So, using Jean’s suggestions, here’s how I got our cable bill lowered and how you can too:

Comcast does offer a new service called Internet Essentials that provides reduced rates for lower income families and individuals.

Be sure you have some time to negotiate

From when I first picked up the phone to call Xfinity, to when I hung up – the whole process took 1 hour. Be sure you have a little time carved out of your day for this phone call. Of course, I did call at the end of the year and Xfinity was likely a bit short-staffed given the holidays. Still, know this could take some time.

As of this year (2019), Xfinity has changed to scheduling a phone call with a customer rep rather than calling them directly. I think they are trying to make things a bit harder to make contact. They do offer a chat feature which is nice – but you may need to get on the phone with a rep to negotiate your bill due to nuances with your bill.

Do some research

One of the things I did before calling Xfinity was to check around the neighborhood to see what folks where paying. In particular, I wanted to see what a competitor of Xfinity was charging folks. In this case, it was Dish (or DirectTV). My next door neighbor, was getting a package that was considerably less than what I was getting with Xfinity. You’ll need this information to make the case for lower rates.

Ask for the Retention Department

Jean Chatzky recommends that when you get on the line with a billing customer representative, that you immediately ask to be transferred to the Retention Department (sometimes referred to as the Loyalty Department OR Customer Solutions). This was my first mistake. I didn’t. I had a helpful and courteous rep who tried their best to offer me a cheaper package, only to come out with about $6 less/per month. I wasn’t happy with that and finally asked to be transferred to Retention. Ask for this department right away.

Be polite – but to the point

I never think you have to be rude or inconsiderate to negotiate a better deal. At the same time, you don’t have to be a pushover. When you get through to the Retention Department, state the reason of your call: “I see that Dish is offering considerably lower rates than Xfinity – and would like to see if there is anything you can do to lower our bill before we decide to leave.” Of course, you could eliminate that last part “before we decide to leave” – but I’m just giving you a script that worked for me. When you get to the Retention Department, they already know you’re about to leave.

Be prepared to negotiate some

The first offer the customer service representative gives you may not be to your liking. Don’t settle. Ask if there is anything further they can do. They’ll likely go through a checklist to see what services you are using. In our case, the rep asked us what channels  we were using.

I didn’t need to spend a lot of time negotiating. The rep gave us a deal to get us back to our original promotional pricing and included an upgrade to our landline (which we use for faxing).

There will likely be a “catch”

To give you the starter promotional prices, Xfinity does something similar to what the cell phone companies do. They “lock” you in. To get our bill back to the promotional rate, Xfinity required us to stay on for two years. They ensure this by a $150 early termination fee (which goes down by $15 every 3 months after the new rate goes into affect). I don’t really see this as a terrible catch – as we won’t need to re-negotiate on the pricing every 6 months when the promo expires.

DirecTV Review and How to Get Discounts - YouTube

———————–
Hope this helps. You should be able to lower your Xfinity cable bill too. Please let us know how it worked!

Update (1/11/13): In addition to the lower monthly rate – Xfinity also gave us a credit on our account (which amounted to a free month of service. Nice.

Update (8/12/16): If you qualify, you may be able to get Xfinity at a much lower rate depending on your income. It’s called Internet Essentials and folks can get home internet starting at $9.99/month.

Update (10/12/16): After a year of no-cable, our friends at Xfinity have again raised our rates for internet service AND will be limiting data usage (right now set at 1TB – which is quite a bit). We had been paying $45/mo for our high-speed internet and they raised it to $70/mo. They’ve changed a lot of their bundles now so that for $70 / $80/mo, you can get cable AND internet together. This is probably a play to get more cable subscribers. So you think, “if I’m paying $60-70 for internet – I might as well pay the extra for cable again” (this is their hope at least).

After negotiating again with them to lower the rate to what they were, I cannot stress that you will need to stand firm. If you do not ask for retention right away – you will have to deal with their first line of employees who do not have much freedom to offer you any savings. Again, they count on the fact most people give up or do not like confrontation – so they will hang-up or accept the first offer given to them. You will need to speak with the loyalty dept or retention to get what you want. After speaking with retention, I was finally able to get my old price back + $5 (so, $50/mo). Not bad.

Update (3/7/18): If you have been given a promotion rate and it expires, you’ll need to call back and negotiate another rate decrease. Xfinity requires you agree to their contract to receive this pricing (1-2 years) – but if you are using them, it is worth the savings. I called recently and got another $10 off my bill – back to the original promo rate after it had expired.

After you’re done saving on cable, you may want to lower your cell phone bill. See how Aaron pays $11.69/mo for his.

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This post was written by Aaron’s wife several years ago. Given that spring planting is upon us, we thought it may be a good time repost.

Every year I look forward to the arrival of the warmer months.  Where we live, we are limited in the amount of months that we can enjoy Zone 4 flora. It is more cost effective to start your plants indoors early by seed. But procrastination can interrupt any gardener’s intentions, and before you know it spring has sprung! I started my seeds in March this year, which is too late. Currently, I have two meager impatiens and the other little guys that survived are violets.

Plants and flowers are essential for aiding in physical, emotional, mental and spiritual healing.  So, I chose to purchase some annuals and I was determined to get down and dirty with some vegetation. I went to a local “discount retail-super store” in lieu of my favorite gardening center. My eyes caught the dancing flowers hanging from the ceiling in various robust arrangements. These typically range from $15-$50. That’s just too much cash for this green thriftster. I avoided temptation, and headed straight for the packs of annuals and single accent plants. Here are some ideas of how you too can make this year’s annual potted garden a success:



Annuals

I purchased at least five or six different varieties. Annuals usually come in “6 packs”, i.e.  six flowers in one pack. Save the plastic containers for next January’s post about starting seeds on the thrift! I selected plants that would complement one another in color, height, as well as sun exposure. An example would be planting purple salvia with some purple/white petunias. This year I spent $1.88 on each pack of annuals.

Accent plants

These typically are sold singly. I found some spikes and asparagus ferns that were on sale for $2 each.   I also found a six pack of the dusty miller variety for $1.88.

Fresh soil

I like the brand that has the “moisture control” beads and fertilizer. It is a tad more costly, but it saves time and energy when watering. I am not a “master” gardener, but I reused  “old” soil with the “new” soil. I don’t know what this does to the pH of the soil, but the plants don’t seem to mind.

Plant homes and pots

Aesthetically pleasing AND thrifty is the best choice! I look for pots at garage sales and thrift stores. I have even found some nice discards in the alleys of Uptown in Minneapolis. On the farm, my Scandinavian Grandmother used toilets and tractor tires for her colorful masterpieces.  I doubt my neighbors would appreciate a toilet full of impatiens in my yard. Beware of bugs! Make sure to wash out your pots that you reuse every year, tossing the old soil if it was infested.

Getting down and dirty

I gathered my tools, rarely used gloves, soil, pots and annuals together. I arranged the plants in a harmonious fashion.  There is no right or wrong here.  Just make sure there is enough room to spare for new growth, and you like how it looks.

Now, I can sit back and enjoy the nearly maintenance free beauty of my potted garden. My hope is that you can make your own beautifully hand crafted thrifty arrangement! Do you have any nifty and thrifty ideas to share with other gardeners?

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I heard a report on NPR this morning and it just didn’t sit right with me. With it being tax day – a national holiday worthy of a day off and celebrations everywhere – I thought I would share.

According to a report by ProPublica – there is a bill making its rounds around Congress which would effectively bar the IRS from offering a free tax prep service that would compete with TurboTax and other third-party tax software.

While TurboTax and others tout “free” tax prep – many people end up paying something for the service because of income levels. According to the report, just 3% use their services for free (this is amazing to me given how much they tout their “freeness” in ads and marketing).

Often we think the government is acting in the best interests of the public. But, given the amount of money paid to corporate lobbyists, this is not always true. Often, government favors corporate interests.

And, to some extent, I can see the positives in this. Corporations employ many American’s. And because of this – it is why many of us enjoy the life that we live (higher wages, ability to own a home, vehicle, etc.).

So, I don’t want to villanize corporations.

Yet, when I see or hear about something – like the current tax system – which can be made easier and more efficient, but is somewhat handicapped due to lobbyists, it is a bit irritating.

Isn’t there free file with the IRS?

Currently, there is an option to free file with the IRS – but your income must be under $66,000. According to the IRS, 100 million tax payers can use the free file program (that’s 70% of filers).

The IRS does send users to different tax prep services off their website – so it’s somewhat hard to say how many end up paying something for the service.

What are your thoughts?

I am more interested in hearing about your thoughts on this. Would love to hear if anyone is a tax prep professional or accountant to get their thoughts on the matter. My own thoughts are that if we can make this season more efficient for everyone, why aren’t we doing it. It’s been reported that in many countries, residents receive their tax forms in the mail, already pre-filled out with their information and income (because the government already knows what you are making). Would that make it easier?

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