Using BookBub To Get Ready For Summer Reading

I love to read.  I’ve always been a sort of bookworm, as far back as I can remember.  My childhood summers growing up included a lot of time reading.  I love fiction.  When I was a kid I loved the Ramona books and Great Brain books.  When I got older, I started reading Stephen King and Dean Koontz.  Now, I have a list of preferred authors and genres.  I also have a new way to find stuff to read.  It’s called BookBub.

If you’ve never heard of BookBub, don’t worry, until just a few months ago, neither had I.

My New Kindle

For Christmas, I got a Kindle reader.  Prior to that I did all of my reading the old fashioned way: reading books.  Most books, I obtained from the local library.

But, I’d started thinking that I wanted a Kindle more and more.  The biggest reason I wanted one is because of our camping trips.  We go camping a lot during the summer, usually over 20 nights per year.  These trips often provide the perfect opportunity to get in some reading time, so I would bring along a few books.

Now, if you’ve ever camped, you know that space is at a premium.  Even though we have a 23′ trailer, it still gets packed full, especially during weeklong trips.  For most trips, I would bring around four books.  I could usually read, on average, two books, but I would always have extra, for a couple of reasons.  One would be if I was already partway through a book.  Another is that since I often get books on a whim, I’d bring some extra just in case I came across a dud.

Still, four books takes up quite a bit of room comparatively, so I thought that an eReader would help.  I wanted a Kindle because of the ease of it all.  After all, Amazon  makes anything easy.

BookBub Finds Deals On eBooks

So where does BookBub come in?  Easy.  It finds deals on books and sends you a list every day.  Each day I get an e-mail with a list of four or five books that I might like.  It determines this because, when I signed up, I spent a few minutes checking my favorite authors and favorite categories.  It also uses information on what book deals I click on to further provide better information.

So, each day I get a list of deals.  Because I have a Kindle, I exclusively get deals for items in the Kindle Store.  A book that might retail for $9.99 will be on sale, and I’ll get notified.  Clicking on the deal takes me right to Amazon’s page where I can read the synopsis, check out reviews, and if I like the deal, I can purchase it on the spot.

It’s pretty much the easiest thing I’ve ever done!

BookBub Deals

So you might be wondering, what are the actual deals?  Great question.

Most of the deals I see are between the price of $0.00 (yep, free) and $1.99.

That’s right, many of the books are absolutely free.  Plus, I’ve paid for a couple that looked really good.  Right now, I have about 15 unread books on my Kindle that I’ve probably paid a grand total of less than $10 for.  You can’t really beat that.

We went to the beach last month, and I decided to pilot test my process.  At that time, I had about 10 books, and I read three during our trip.  It could not have been easier.

My Full Process For Finding Books Using BookBub (and other sites)

When a book appears on my list, I’ll look at the Amazon page if it interests me.  But, I’ll also look at Goodreads.  This

Image courtesy of morguefile via beanworks

is a site that has more comprehensive views as well as a star rating that I think is more accurate for people that love to read.

So, when I get my daily e-mail I will:

  • See if the 2-3 line summary plus the price piques my interest
  • Go over to Goodreads and look at a few reviews
  • If I’m still interested, I’ll go back to the e-mail and click the link.  This takes me to the Amazon store.
  • I’ll purchase the deal.
  • The book shows up on my Kindle next time I’m on Wi-Fi.

It’s pretty sweet.

Note: This is not a sponsored post nor was I compensated in any way.  I just think BookBub is awesome so I decided to write this all on my own!

Readers, do you use BookBub or any other type of similar source to find book deals?  What about other hobbies outside reading? Do you have a BookBub type service that helps with your favorite hobbies?  Please let me know in the comments below.  Thanks for reading!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

8 Wise Ways To Spend Your Tax Refund

Are you one of the millions getting a tax refund this year?  Maybe you’ve already got it but haven’t spent it yet.  Your tax refund can be a great way to reach some financial goals.  Here are eight ways that you can spend your tax refund that are sure to make your life easier.

Repair Or Fix Up Something

If you’ve got something that’s broken or on it’s last legs, now’s the time to consider fixing it.  Whether it’s a leaky water heater, a dented bumper, or a room that needs re-painting, your tax refund can help.  In many cases, fixing or replacing something before it fails altogether will save over an emergency repair.

Set Up An Emergency Fund

Speaking of emergencies, now is a great time to put money aside in case one comes up.  An emergency fund is always a great idea.  Every household should have at least $1,000 set aside for this purpose.  If you don’t, why not use some of your tax refund money to get this going?

Pay Down Debt

Why not knock off a chunk of debt?  Paying down debt is always going to increase your net worth, so definitely give it some consideration.  Maybe you have one or two bills that could be wiped out with your tax refund.  Getting rid of a payment or two is a big weight off your shoulders.

‘Pay’ A Bill That Isn’t Due Yet

If you’ve got a bill coming sometime over the next year that you might otherwise struggle, use your tax refund to help.  You don’t have to pay the bill in advance, but put the money aside so that it’s there when you need to pay it.  Good examples of this are spending on Christmas gifts or extra money to cover the air conditioning bills for the upcoming summer.

Save For Something You Want

Are you ready to plan that great vacation you’ve been thinking about?  Do you really need a better set of wheels sometime in the next couple of years?  Your tax refund can help with these or similar things.  You may not get it fully funded, but setting a chunk of money toward a big goal can go a long way to making it happen.

Stash It Away For Retirement

Most people don’t have enough saved up for retirement.  If you fall into this category, consider sticking your tax refund in a Roth IRA or other retirement account.  A little now could go a long way later to living comfortably in your golden years.

Treat Yourself

Sometimes we all need to let loose and spend.  If you’ve got a good chunk of money, now’s the time to let loose and buy something you normally wouldn’t.  Here’s the kicker though, don’t use any more than 10% of your tax refund on this.

Split It Up

If you have more than one idea that strikes your fancy, whether it’s from this list or your own ideas, split the money between them.  There’s nothing wrong with tackling a few different goals at once.  Personally, our refund covers a variety of things like money toward vacations, car payments, car repairs, kids activities, and stuff around the house.   Do what works for you!

Readers, did you get a refund this year?  If so, how did you allocate it?  Please share with me and other readers in the comments below.  Thanks for reading!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Will There Be Fewer Costco Coupons?

I wrote a post in December of last year about how Costco’s December coupons were awful.  They were so bad that we didn’t even make a Costco trip that month.  This is very unusual for the holidays.  One of my readers (Loughneylaurie) made a comment that perked my attention, as it suggested that they are going to be offering less coupons in the future.  I haven’t found any real evidence or discussion on the Internet as of yet.  But, with looking at recent coupon book release dates, I wonder if there will be fewer Costco coupons moving forward.

Latest Trend Shows Possibility of Fewer Costco Coupons

Looking up the history of Costco coupon books is fairly easy.  Many sites scan the books and post the images on line.  So it was fairly easy to find the dates of the most recent coupon books from Costco.

I narrowed my search to the last 15 books.  I’m not sure why, it just seemed like a good stopping point.

Each of the Costco coupon books traditionally associates with a calendar month, even if there’s a couple of days that bleed over into a different month.  For example, a book that runs from January 28th through February 21st would be the ‘February coupon book’.

Here’s some high level results.

  • Length – 11 of the 15 books ran for 25 days.  The other four ran for between 26 – 29 days.  This seems to have stayed fairly consistent.
  • 2016 Break – There’s usually a gap between coupon books.  A majority of the time, the break has been 3 days, and in 2016, there was four times when it was not.  The break (in days) for those times was: 0,9,10,10.
  • 2017 Break – So far there have been two breaks in the 2017 coupons, and both of those are higher than any of the times in 2016.  The first break was 11 days, and the next break was 16 days.

The fact that the last two are the highest two tells me that they could be scaling back the number of coupon books.  If they offer them for the same length of time, say around 25 days, but increase the gap, they could offer 2-4 less books per year.  This does not make me happy.

What If There Are Fewer Costco Coupon Books?

We’ve been less and less satisfied with Costco over the past year or so.  They’ve replaced many items with organic

Image from morguefile courtesy of frenchbyte

versions, at much higher price points.  While this month’s coupons are pretty good, it seems they’ve been experimenting with offerings.  Taking away savings would not make us happy.  I’ve also heard that they’re considering raising their membership rates from $55 to $60.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on what they do. We have a Sam’s Club that is just as close as Costco.  We glanced through a recent book and it was really quite good.  They also offer some pretty good sign-up deals for the first year of membership, as low as $25.  Many times you can even save on renewals as well.

We’ve floated around the idea of running two memberships at the same time.  We’d probably keep the Costco membership until at least next January, so that we could use and redeem our rewards associated with our Costco Visa cash back card.  That would give us a good time to compare the two, and determine which offers the products we need at the price we want.

The comparison hasn’t started yet, but Costco seems to be pushing us closer and closer to the line where they could very well lose our business.

Readers, what do you think about Costco?  Are we the only ones that count on Costco coupons to provide some additional savings on top of buying in bulk?  Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Appreciation For A Working Snowblower

Tonight we’re supposed to get our second snowstorm of the season, both coming in the period of a week.  I am feeling a lot better about this one.  Why?  Because we have a working snowblower once again!

Snowblowers Are Easy To Forget About During Warm Novembers

It’s been a few years since I’ve had the snowblower worked on.  It’s a really old but dependable unit.  I think my parents bought it in the 1980’s.  It worked great for them, and they gave it to me when they started having someone do their snow.  By that time, pretty much the entire guts of the machine had worn down, but the frame and the engine were still going strong.

Still, it’d been a few years and I’d been meaning to get it taken back in.  I knew that it needed new paddles and probably new spark plugs and some other TLC.

November was warm.  Really warm.  Like late September through early October warm.  So I never really gave much thought to the snowblower.  I probably should have.

I pulled it out and figured I’d see if I could get it started.  From experience, I knew that the repair shops were busy with people getting theirs ready for the season.  I figured that if I could get it running, I could sneak by for a while and take it in later in the season once the initial rush had slowed.

Repair Me Now

The snowblower decided to let me know pretty quickly that it did not approve of my plan.  I got it started, alright, but as I pulled the starter and heard the engine come to life, the entire rope came flying out of the machine.

Drat.

I had no choice but to shut her down.  I loaded her up on the back of the truck and took it in.  They looked it over, said that it did indeed need new paddles, plus the broken pull.

They said it would take a couple of weeks.  I joked with the guy that it was not allowed to snow while they had it.  He didn’t smile.  I figure he’s heard that one before.

It Snowed – A Lot

So what happened?  It snowed.  A lot.  We got a big snowstorm here last Saturday into Sunday.  All told, it dumped around 10 inches of snow on our driveway.

An amount that a snowblower would have come in handy to get rid of.

We ended up splitting the shoveling into two+ phases.  We did a first pass with about 4 inches on the ground.  It started off as pretty light and fluffy so it was easy.

When the next few inches had fallen, I was hoping it would be comparable, but by that point the snow had gotten a lot wetter and a LOT heavier.  So the 5″ was 25% more snow than our first pass, but probably weighed twice as much and took twice as long.

 It was not fun.

The next morning, I finished up and cleared the last inch or so.  By that point, my shoulder was sore, my muscles mb-201401snowblowerwere tired, and I was really missing my snowblower.

The only saving grace is that when the snow plows came through later in the day, they put all the snow on the other side of the street.  I had figured I’d need to do one last pass to clear out the mess that they made, but they didn’t make one!

Snowblower Returned

The forecasts called for another storm, so I called them on Monday to see if it’d be ready before the week was done.  The last thing I wanted was another storm shoveling by hand.  (Note: Our garage is a side entrance garage, so as a result the driveway is pretty long.  And, clearing that top section is harder because you can only throw it to one side.)

Thankfully, it was good news.  They were just finishing it up and it would be ready to go.  On Wednesday, I happily drove to the repair shop, paid, and as I walked outside, I heard the familiar engine roar as they brought it out.

When the snow starts falling later today, I will be much more relaxed now that I know the snowblower is in the garage, ready to go.

Readers, how do you go about clearing snow?  Have you ever had to take a step back with clearing snow or some other process?  Let me know how it all went in the comments below.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.