Fiscal Cliff Survival Guide – Can You Replace Your Cable? {I Saved $881 a year}

Today for our “Fiscal Cliff” plan of things YOU can do to save some money this week. Last week I talked a little about overlapping plans for cable and other services, and about getting a discount on your current car/home insurance and other plans.

Let’s talk about cable. How much do you pay a month and how many channels do you really watch? We have/had cable and watch about the same 4 channels all the time, but PAY for over 100. Can I get those same channels for cheaper or only pay for those that I watch? Cable was about $80 a month. The same price as Amazon Prime for the year.

Costs per year: 

  • Cable  - $960
  • Amazon Prime – $79
  • Netflix – $95.88
  • Hulu Plus – $95.88
By dropping cable and using Amazon Prime I saved $881 dollars a year. We are adding Hulu Plus ($95.88 for the year) so that my husband can watch ESPN. He will get the games the next day and can live with that. On Amazon Prime, you have to wait until the season is over, which is no fun. :)

::Video Streaming ::

 

 

 

 

 

Amazon Prime - Cost $79 per year. When you have Amazon Prime, you can get thousands of movies, TV shows and series instantly on your TV and computer. This is at NO ADDITIONAL COST to you! Get a free 30 day trial of Amazon Prime HERE.

Amazon Instant Video streams movies and TV shows directly to your TV over the internet. You can shop and watch over 90,000 movies and TV shows instantly on your TV with Amazon Instant Video.

The easiest way to watch Amazon Instant Video on your TV is to use one of the many compatible TVs, Blu-ray players, and set-top boxes (see compatible devices). If you have a compatible device then all you need to do is connect it to the internet and register your Amazon.com account. Need more info, go HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

Netflix – For $7.99 a month, instantly watch unlimited movies & TV episodes streaming over the Internet to your TV via a PS3, Wii, Xbox 360 or any other device that streams from Netflix. You can also watch instantly on your computer too. Get 30 Day free trial HERE.

hulu PLUS - Hulu Plus™ lets you watch hit current and back season TV shows and acclaimed movies anytime in HD for $7.99/month with limited advertising. For many popular shows on our service, Hulu Plus offers every episode of the current season, not just a handful of recent episodes. Hulu Plus subscribers also have access to back seasons and full runs of some of TV’s greatest shows, including many that were not available online before.

Even better, you can watch Hulu Plus content in HD (when available) on multiple devices, including your laptop, the Apple iPad and iPhone, PlayStation® 3, Roku, and TVs and Blu-ray players from Sony, Samsung and Vizio. (More devices are coming soon.)

You can sign up for a 1-week free trial HERE, or you can also find a sampling of select Hulu Plus content using our free downloadable app for the iPad, iPhone, iPod touch and other supported devices.

What OTHER programs have you used to replace cable?

* This is the Mohu Leaf Thin Digital Antenna that we have used and friends as well!

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Fiscal Cliff Series – Dropping the Phone Bill

I am REPOSTING this today because the Ooma device is one sale today!

My friend Becky followed up her post last week on dropping cable, with a good post today about what they are doing with their phone service and how they saved money.

From Becky: Many families these days have gone to cell phones only.   For my family of 6 we need a landline, but the monthly cost was about $45 per month.  We have been exploring ways to cut our monthly bills, and I spent some time researching Ooma.

Ooma provides phone service over your internet line, similar to Vonage.  But with Ooma, you buy the device and have no monthly charges except for your access fees and taxes with are less than $5 per month.  The Ooma device costs $139.  I bought mine at Target, using my Red debit card to get 5% off, and also to make a return easy if I wasn’t happy with how it worked.  First, we set it up with a random phone number available from Ooma.  We hooked up the phone, and used it to make several phone calls to make sure the sound quality was good.  We could hear a sound delay initially, but after the first couple phone calls, that disappeared, no one can tell we are using anything different.

Once we were satisfied with it, we paid $39 to have our home phone number ported over.  That took about a week.   The upfront cost of buying the equipment will pay for itself within a few months.  We are very happy with the switch and the savings we receive each month by dropping dish for Roku, and by trading traditional phone service for Ooma.

What have you used to lower your monthly phone service? 

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Fiscal Cliff Series: Couponing and Planning Ahead {20 things I didn’t have to buy this year!}

You hear from me all the time, I love being able to offer information and personal experiences from other people. I was impressed with this article that Anna from Dollar Store Deals wrote and it really hit home with me.

From Anna: I am guessing that if you read this site, you already coupon and I am just preaching to the choir. What I was thinking about last night was how lucky I was to have someone teach me how to coupon. At the time, it wasn’t what I thought was a necessity. If I needed deodorant, I went out and bought one. When that was gone, I stole my husbands for a day or so and then bought another one. My life has changed since then :) Now when I am out of deodorant I go to the bathroom cupboard and pull out our box of deodorant and grab a new one.

A couple years ago when I started to coupon, it was mostly because I just liked to hang out with my sister and we ended up shopping together a lot. I couldn’t help but start to coupon. My husband and I were both working, we weren’t making tons of money but we weren’t hurting either. I couponed for a hobby and because I loved the rush of getting a phenomenal deal. My first coupon trip was to Kroger. My husband thought using coupons was silly so when I walked out the door he said, “Don’t spend more than $50.” When the total got to $271, I started freaking out just a little bit. After some help from my sister and some coupons, my total ended up being $70. I was freaking out I was so excited. It was the biggest rush getting so much food for a fraction of the original price! Another trip I bought $50 in cereal but only paid $15. It was awesome.

We have been in school since August 2011. That meant we both quit jobs and are now living on what we had in savings and student loans. That doesn’t leave a huge budget for other things, and I am so grateful that we couponed when we didn’t “need” to. I also lucky that someone taught me how to do it right. Since we have lived in Lubbock, I have not had to buy the following items:

Shampoo/Conditioner
Hair Spray
Hair Gel
Toothpaste
Toothbrushes
Laundry Soap
Fabric Softener
Dish Soap
Dishwasher detergent
Shaving Razors
Hand Soap
Body Wash
Face Soap (but I am almost out so I probably will need to soon)
Make Up (I have added a couple things here and there but I have SO much that I haven’t even OPENED yet that I don’t “need” any!)
Deodorant
Bar Soap
Canned Veggies
Tampons (except recently at Dollar General to make sure the coupon worked)
Pads/Liners (except for one time about a year ago)

We literally have not bought any of those items in over a year. Sometimes that amazes me when I think about that. We couponed enough before school that we had over a years supply of those items. I have heard a few people who say, “There are never coupons for anything I need.” And that attitude amazes me, because I know they’re washing their hands and their clothes… and there are coupons for those things.

Even if you chose not to coupon for food, the list above are basic necessities that you have to buy anyway! I think every family should have some sort of “back up” for emergencies. I can think of times in my life when store shelves have been cleared, hurricanes, blizzards, water contamination, explosions in the gulf, and loss of jobs. Those kind of problems are unexpected and that is why you should have something to help you through those times.

You already know this. I am guessing you already have a good stock pile. But do your neighbors? Do your friends? Can you help teach those around you the importance of having even a small stock pile? We can’t predict the future, but we can prepare for it.

You can read more articles in the Fiscal Cliff Series HERE.

 

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Fiscal Cliff Series: Making the Leap to Roku – Guest Post from Becky!

This is a 2 part series I asked my sweet friend Becky to write up for me. She and her family have recently cut their cable and phone bills drastically. Check out Becky’s phone bill advice on Monday! 

It’s Becky here, a friend of Tiffany’s, my family recently cut our dish service, and have switched to Roku.  Maybe you have been considering doing the same thing.  I hope maybe by sharing our experience, it may help you decide if it may be for you.

http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/electronics/detail-page2/xs-hero-1.jpg

A little over 2 years ago, when we moved, we signed up for the triple play deal at our new home–internet, phone and dish (through DirectTV). We had previously had Dish Network for several years, and had been very happy with their service.  But that was the deal in our area, so we signed up.  The prices were locked in for a year, but the DirectTV part of the contract ran for 2 years.  After the first year, the dish bill alone jumped to $100 per month.  Then, about 6 months before the contract was up, DirectTV started calling us.  Over and over again.  Multiple times a day, for weeks on end, robocalling.  Finally, my husband answered and they said they were offering us a free HD receiver, with the only catch being that it would extend our contract.  He declined.  Several days later, a HD receiver showed up in the mail anyway.  It was a huge headache returning the reciever, and it really ticked me off.

My husband and 2 teenage sons are big sports fans, and that was the biggest reason we were hesitant to get rid of dish, but we also recently became self employed and needed to cut our budget.  My husband said he was ready to make the switch.  So this is what we did:  we bought this antenna from Amazon:

Mohu Leaf Paper-Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna - Made in USA

It hangs flat like a piece of laminated paper.  It works great!  We get about 12 channels very clearly, including NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox.  We also ordered the Roku, it is a little box that streams content to your TV without having to hook up a computer.  With the Roku, there are a number of channels which are included.  Once you buy the device, your cost per month is ZERO.  If you choose, you can add Hulu Plus and Netflix, and if you have Amazon Prime, quite a bit of programming is available through that.  Also, PlayOn is very inexpensive (they run specials at $19 per year,) and offers many additional channels.

The biggest downside is sports programming.  We don’t get ESPN, although we get ESPN2 an ESPN3.  We get all the NFL games except Monday night.  We have episodes of most every show we want available with the push of a few buttons.  It was a learning curve at first, but we have it figured out.  I have found that we have decreased our TV watching time because it forces us to be more intentional about watching TV.  Without DVR, we either need to watch it live, or find it on the Roku.

The great thing is we have flexibility.  We are not locked into any contracts, and can keep our costs as low as we want.  I asked my husband if he is content with Roku, and he said he is very happy with it.  We upgraded to faster internet to improve the quality of the picture.  The faster internet also allowed us to drop our landline, and switch to Ooma for our phone service, which I will detail in my next post coming up on Monday!

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How did you save this past week? {I saved $55 and made $50!}

Ok, it is Monday… Time to start thinking about what you are going to do this week to save $50 or make an extra $50. Please share with others in the comments to help encourage and motivate each other that YOU can do it!

If you want to re-read my Fiscal Cliff survival guide, it is over HERE.

How did I save this past week: 

  • 2 nights came home and ate dinner when it would have been easier to eat out. SAVED $40
  • Bought kids softball cleats at resale shop instead of brand new. SAVED $15
  • Sold brand new cowboy boots on Craigslist that were gathering dust in my closet. They were a gift and didn’t fit right. MADE $50

There were a few more little things that I did this week that seem silly to post about, but I saved some money in a few other places by just walking away!

If you want to read some more money saving ideas, you can read all the Fiscal Cliff SG posts HERE.

How did you save some money this past week??

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Fiscal Cliff Survival Guide – Learning to Say “NO” to Our Children.

Learning to say “no” can be a really hard thing to do. As Moms (and Dads) we often overextend ourselves with friends and work by not telling people no, and on the surface happily saying “yes” to extra work, errands and more. We hear all the time to learn to say “no” and not get taken advantage of, that our time is precious, and to not overextend ourselves.

What about learning to say “no” when finances are involved? Especially with our children, and ourselves. The very people we don’t want to tell “no” to.

I love my children dearly and want them to have the things that they need and of course the things that they don’t need, but really want. They are good kids, and as far as I am concerned, they are pretty great people. But, they have too much stuff.

When I was a kid, I didn’t dare ask for toys and things for no reason. It had to be around my birthday time or Christmas. Maybe my parents remember differently, but I knew I wasn’t getting anything until there is a reason. I didn’t have designer clothes or even clothes from a store in the mall, they were clothing from either Walmart, Kmart or Target if I was lucky. At Christmas, I would search for the gift from my Grandmother because I knew it was clothing from a department store, was probably a name brand and had matching pants or jewelry. It wasn’t that my parents didn’t have money to spend on us, they just were really good at saying “no”. Plus, I didn’t need any of it.

Candy and treats are another area that I am starting to say “no” to. We didn’t get treats at school and we especially didn’t get the bags of candy that my kids do now from school, stores and friends. After sporting events that we played in we got orange slices and a bottle of water. Not the Capri Suns and full size snacks we see now, and recently one kid came home with a paper gift bag full of snack packs and candy. I thought someone had a party, no it was the snack a Mom had brought for after the game. I could not imagine what that must have cost!

Saying “no” to my kids is hard. I WANT them to have stuff and be happy. But “stuff” doesn’t make them happy, it makes them want more stuff, and think that they should just get more stuff all the time. Plus, it is more to clean up and wash, and I hate yelling at kids to clean up!

Recently one of my kids texted me when I was on my way home from a meeting. She was able to text me because she had an iTouch, granted something she got for Christmas, but still she is only 11. *I* don’t have an iTouch! She wanted me to stop and pick up a pair of white sweat plants that she could wear to school the next day because all her friends were going to match. I was already going to Walmart and so in the store I found the pants they were *only* $6 and as I stood there I thought to myself,  I need to say “no.” I knew she wanted to match badly, and as a Mom I hate to see my kids unhappy, but by not saying “NO” even to the little things I was feeding this spending monster we were creating in our kids.

I could ramble on and on about the things our children are not learning now days that they should be. By buying them EVERY little thing they ask for all the time, we are creating kids who are going to be financial messes when they get older. As young adults they can easily spend themselves into bankruptcy thinking they need every pair of white sweatpants or shoes that comes along.

Saying “no” to our kids doesn’t mean and isn’t showing them that we don’t have the money or can’t afford something. It means that we are trying to teach them something. I have stopped saying “I don’t have the money for that”  and have started saying, “you don’t need that” or explaining that I am choosing to spend money on other things, OR SAVE my money because in 5 minutes they will have forgotten all about it.

As much as we love our kids, we are not doing them any favors by not telling them no, even on the little things. I think that we are getting nickled and dimed to death buying things we don’t need.

This is written for ME. I am learning everyday and realizing some mistakes I have made along the way. Hopefully you can take something from it, and maybe this applies to your family as well.

As part of our families Fiscal Cliff Survival Guide, my husband and I are saying “no” to our kids MUCH more. It doesn’t mean that we don’t love them, we are trying to make them more responsible financially and SAVE money on the little things that add up!

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Your Fiscal Cliff Survival Guide – Mapping It Out

Our country narrowly missed falling over the “Fiscal Cliff” the beginning of this year. Most of us didn’t miss the hike in our taxes though. Starting January, we saw about $100 less from each paycheck, which over the next 12 month will equal about $2400. For me, that is a lot of money. I feel like I am already frugal and stretch my dollars as far as they can go. But I am going to need to make up that $200 a month that will now be missing.

I know that I can do it.

I know that I can help you do it. 

But first we need a plan, and we need a map. You don’t set out on a journey without either if you expect to get where you are going. I went to college to get my degree in Recreation and Natural Resource Management, I wanted to own a bed and breakfast somewhere out in the western part of the US. I love the outdoors, and catering to company. Instead, I got married and moved to Houston where it is 100 degrees in the shade in April. But in my head, any references to backpacking, camping and the outdoors I get and make sense to me. That is how I am setting it up for you.

What you can expect: 

Daily I am going to give you every opportunity to find an extra $200. Mondays, I will post a menu plan, so you can try and eat at home. I am going to give you a list of what you can stock up on each week. This is NOT Extreme Couponing. In fact, we are not going to cut out a lot of coupons, but I DO want you to get 1-2 papers a week still. They come in handy when you don’t expect them to. Don’t even cut the coupons out if you don’t want to. Just hang onto the inserts until you need them.

Join MyLitter -Deals. We are going to discuss and help each other with deals that your fellow readers see and find helpful. I have to approve you, but I watch it all day, so I can do it right away!

I am in the same boat, and need to find my $200 a month. So, I want to make sure that you can as well!

 ::Planning::

Jumping into something without a plan is a sure way for it to backfire, and you to give up quickly. Jumping in full force without a plan, will also make you discouraged and set you up to fail. We do not want that.

What is the plan? Mine is to “find” an extra $200 a month. More would be nice, but I am going to go  with $200 for now to make up for what I am now short. Grab a pen and paper and write down YOUR plan. I will wait….. See it in writing? Good. Now stick it somewhere where you will see it every day. Tape it to your computer. Tattoo it on your hand, I don’t care, just somewhere you can remember the plan.

:: Get a Map:: 

We don’t often use maps much anymore that you unfold in your hand and try to fold back up. We have google maps and GPS devices that tell us where to go. But there is something about holding a map in your hand and seeing all the other roads that go places you were not, and all the different options you have.

MY map is different than YOUR map.

Because we are all in different financial, life, job, family, etc. situations, one plan and one route won’t fit all. How many of you have 7 kids and live in Houston where grocery prices are fairly low? Probably not many of you, if you do, email me, I need a friend with a bunch of kids!

I am going to help you make your map, by giving you different options. You can choose the way you want to go, or what works best for your family.

Go HERE for more information and to make your plan!

::Gather Your Resources::

Please don’t spend anymore money trying to save money. You don’t need to go buy a calendar, or pay for information on the web. Have you seen people who start couponing and end up spending MORE money than they would have if they were not couponing? Also your TIME is money.

When you are serious about couponing, getting the hang of it takes a little more time, but after a while you get good and fast and the money you are saving makes up the extra time you are spending. But some people don’t give it long enough and it starts to not be worth it. I don’t blame them. Who wants to be tied down like that and a salve to coupons? Not me! Pick wisely what YOU have time for and what YOU can make your time worth helping your family.

Go HERE for free resources!

:: Detour’s::

There are many detours in life. The loss of $200 a month is one of them. It sucks. But we are going to  find another way to make that money up, or live without it. BUT, if you end up taking a different path for a few miles, make sure that it leads you back to the one that you started with. Because if you don’t, you have lost your way.

:: SOS – Call For Help ::

Even the best of us need help. I have a few friends that I can call on for help if I need it. I have blogger friends I have never met, that I talk to on a daily basis and can ask for support or help in answering questions or responding to problems. Although I have not met many of personally I am here to HELP you! That is why I started this blog. To HELP other people save the money that I was saving because it made a difference in my life and it can in yours as well. EMAIL me!!! Email my husband if you need help with Walmart or need some advice as to how to get your husband to help coupon and save money. WE are here to HELP you! 

  • [email protected] – Tiffany
  • [email protected] – Paul

Comment on the Fiscal Cliff Posts each week. The readers here at MyLitter ARE THE BEST IN THE WORLD! They will help you if you have a question. I have seen this time and time again, that readers will answer questions that I am not sure about or get to them quicker than I can. They are helpful and friendly. Just give as much information as you can, that helps us understand exactly what you are asking OR venting. That is ok as well. We all need to sometimes!

My husband Paul is a blogger over at I Heart The Mart. On Wednesday’s he is doing a LIVE radio show that you can listen to if you are interested. Each week he talks about saving money in general, Walmart shopping, Walmart issues ( because there are never a shortage of those… :) ) and much more. It is really kinda a fun and funny show, plus you can also call in and ask questions.

:: Use the Buddy System :: 

FIND A BUDDY!! I get so much good information from readers and friends everyday that I would never be able to find on my own. Encourage your sister, best friend, Mom, husband, neighbor, co-worker, aunt, daughter etc.  to jump on this ride with you. It is SOOOOO much more fun with a friend. Plus, you can encourage and support each other on the way.

Steer clear of the “haters,” people who don’t like it when you succeed or flourish. Or people who complain a lot, it just isn’t fun that way. Find a friend that is thrifty and frugal, who you can go shopping with. Someone who likes to save money just as much as you or NEEDS YOU to teach them how. YOU can be the leader and show others how to take some stress out of their life by having a little wiggle room with their budget.

If you don’t have anyone, I am here as buddy OR I can set you up with an online buddy! Just ask!

:: One Foot In Front Of The Other::

This was my final topic. But when I thought of ending titles like, “Goal” “Finish Line” and others, they didn’t fit. There is never really an end to saving money. It is just something that you do. This is a lifestyle of SMART and frugal choices so that you can spend YOUR money on the things that YOU want to and not just trying to stay afloat. Because just trying to get by isn’t fun, the stress is not worth it.

In closing, I want you to know that I am here for you. I don’t have all the answers but I can try and help. BUT, YOU need to be invested, I won’t be able to physically hold your hand. YOU need to make good finical decisions and choices and teach your children to make good choices as well. I know that things happen in life that are unexpected. You might make good choices and still get caught in something completely unexpected. This is when you just keep your chin up, and do what you can!

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Amazon: Wahl Clippers 50% off! Plus, How To Cut Hair Video!

Today on Amazon you can pick up a 20 Piece Wahl Complete Haircutting Kit for only $21.97 it is normally $40.00. It will also ship free with a $25 purchase, or with Amazon Prime, so I suggest maybe adding a hair cutting cape or combs to the order to get free shipping if you don’t have Amazon Prime.

* Cutting your kids hair is an AWESOME way to save some money and add money to your Fiscal Cliff Survival Plan every few months!

I made a few video tutorials on how I cut my kids hair. If you are new here, I was a hairstylist before kids :)

How to cut “bangs” on kids  (Omgosh! I forgot how RED her hair was!!)

How to cut short hair – Part One

H0w to cut short hair – Part Two

Product Description

Color: Blue & White
The wahl color pro 20 piece complete haircutting kit is perfect for performing professional quality haircuts at home. the clipper includes a comfort grip for easy handling, adjustable taper control and wahl exclusive accessories. kit includes: mc clipper, blade guard, 12 colored guide combs, barber comb, styling comb, scissors, cleaning brush, blade oil, english/spanish instructions/styling guide. 6 inch handled storage case.
  • Color coded guide combs make it easy to remember everyone’s favorite hair length, every time you cut
  • Color coded keys make it easy to correspond the correct comb to the right setting
  • Self-sharpening, high-carbon steel blades are precision ground to stay sharp longer
  • Ideal for head and total body grooming
  • Soft touch grip for comfort and control
Ge HERE to take a look!
The video below is “How to cut boys and mens hair” my little guy was not thrilled!

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Your Fiscal Cliff Survival Guide Launches MONDAY Morning!

I am so VERY excited to announce a new series and money saving plan, that I have been working on for a few week here on MyLitter.

Who had about $100 more come out of their paycheck this past Friday? Me! About 70% of us did according to the statics online.  That $2500 a year that I will be missing hurts, even though it is a little at a time. It adds up and I don’t know about you, but I needed a $2500 RAISE not deduction!

What if I told you my new mission is to help YOU make up that $200 each month painlessly, and have some fun along the way?

Monday on Houston’s Fox 26, I will be explaining my plan and how I can help you find an extra $200 each month. Make sure to either watch live or check back here Monday morning at 9am CST to join me and 1,000′s of others as we work together and painlessly get back that $200 in our pockets!

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