Things I Love At The Museum

Last year, we decided to purchase a membership to the Henry Ford, which is one of the more prominent museums in the area.  It has a lot of history, from the auto industry but also in many other things that go beyond.  We probably would have joined sooner, but the drive is about 40 minutes from our house.

From a frugal perspective, it can’t be beat.  The membership was $145 but it is tax deductible, meaning that it’s probably more about $115 out of pocket.  Each visit would cost us around $40, so just three visits makes it pay for itself.  We’ve gone six times and have another two months until our membership expires, so we’ve more than taken advantage.

Here are some of the great things that I personally enjoy at our museum:

Read moreThings I Love At The Museum

Getting A Grasp On Life Insurance

My employer changed as of the 1st of the year.  I work in the same job doing the same thing, but we were converted from contract to full time employees.  As such, we were brought onto the benefits program of my new employer, and while the types of offerings were the same (medical, dental, disability, etc.), there were variations in each.  All of them required some level of research and understanding, but none so much as the change involved with life insurance.

My former employee offered coverage that I felt was fully adequate for our needs.  I was allowed to ‘purchase’ ten times my salary as coverage for myself, and was allowed to purchase coverage for my wife up to a fixed amount.  In looking at the ‘what if’ scenarios that you hope never happen, we felt that if either of us died, the payout would offer enough coverage.  The cost in terms of deductions per paycheck was very reasonable.

I always knew in the back of my mind that I would likely need to look at coverage, and when the conversion was announced, and we received information about the offerings, I knew that the day had come to better understand life insurance.

Read moreGetting A Grasp On Life Insurance

The Impact Of The Incandescent Bulb Change

I knew it was coming but sort of forgot regarding the change in incandescent bulbs that took place on January 1, 2014.  What change?  Well, they can no longer make the traditional bulb in 40 or 60 watt sizes.  It seems that this was the third and final year where they phased out these bulbs.  I sort of remember the 100 bulbs being hit a few years ago, and I’m guessing that 75 watt bulbs were the second phase, though I can’t remember ever buying one of those.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut we do buy and use the 40 and 60 watt bulbs, so this will definitely impact things.  It got me to thinking what our strategy will be and how much it will really affect us.

Where We Use Incandescent Bulbs Today: Affected By The Outlaw

The traditional bulbs will be phased out.  Bulbs with odd sizes will still be available, from what I’m told.  So, I thought I’d start by looking at where in the house we use these bulbs.

Honestly, there’s only one fixture I can really think of.  The fixture above our kitchen table has exposed bulbs, so we never converted these to CFLs.  There are five bulbs, and we replace at least 3-4 a year.  I’d say I probably have 3-4 in stock, meaning that I have one year before we’re out.

Read moreThe Impact Of The Incandescent Bulb Change

A Rare Impulse Buy: I Ordered A Roku!

I recently wrote about how we’re looking into whether we can potentially cut cable TV this year.  In addition to doing research on what we can access and how we can access it in the event we ‘cut the cord’, one of the things I want to understand is the technology.

Well, you can only do so much reading about the devices, so it’s time to get hands on!  I have a few different updates, first tied into our ‘soon to arrive’ Roku.

Part I: Roku

Last week, there was a Woot Off, and I happened to log in when they were offering a Roku 3 for $65.  This is the current premium device, and it was selling for $65, a 35% discount from the $100 suggested price.

Read moreA Rare Impulse Buy: I Ordered A Roku!

Make Changes In January To Bring Your Financial House Back In Order

Even though all of the Christmas presents have been unwrapped and put away, for many people, the financial implications of spending around the holidays spill over into January. And as we all know the effects can spill over way past January, where holiday spending can be a burden throughout the entire year.

Many people find that their holiday spending is a never ending cycle.  By the time you catchOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA up from last holiday (if you do), the next season is here already.

I’m here to tell you that there is hope, but if you want to get your financial house in order, it’s time to start now.  This month.  Not next month.  Get started in January.

Here are a few things that you can do to get out from the burden you might feel from your holiday spending, and more importantly, set the table so that you don’t find yourself burdened next year.

Read moreMake Changes In January To Bring Your Financial House Back In Order

Could We Cut Cable TV This Year?

I’ve seen a few blog posts and news stories written about people who cut their cable TV, and while it seems intriguing, it’s honestly not something I’ve really thought about.  But, I’ve started giving it more and more thought, and I decided that 2014 will be the year that I’ll at least look into it to see if it’s a possibility.

Our Cable TV Equipment

mb-201401cableWe have cable through Wide Open West (aka WOW).  They’ve been my carrier for over ten years, and provide cable and internet.  By and large, I’ve been pretty satisfied with their offerings and they have had customer service that I would rate way above average.

We currently have a whole house DVR system.  There is one box, called the gateway, which has six tuners so that we can record or watch up to six shows at a time. There are three media players which connect to each TV, and communicate back to the gateway for programming.

As mentioned, the system has a DVR system, so we use the system to record shows that we can play back later.

Is This Replaceable?  I understand that there are a number of devices, from TiVo or otherwise, that can be purchased to act as DVRs.

Read moreCould We Cut Cable TV This Year?

Best of Money Beagle For 2013

It’s hard to believe I’ve been doing this for nearly five years now.  I wonder how many of my readers from the beginning are still with me.  Besides my parents, of course, who I know have read every word!

I decided to take a quick look at what were the most popular articles, as noted by page views, that I wrote in 2013.  I was surprised to see that they all were written in the April and May time frame, so I guess I was in a period of good writing.  Though, in fairness, the posts later in the year didn’t have as much time to show up in search engines and such, so maybe they’re skewed.

Nonetheless, here are the most read posts from 2013.  When I pulled the numbers, I was surprised to see that four of the top six were directly tied to stores or brands.  I’m thinking that maybe I’ll put more focus on reviews and observations about products, retailers, and services.  I enjoy writing about them, anyways, so it’s good that people are reading!

Read moreBest of Money Beagle For 2013

A Simple Bank Account Is Out Of Reach For Most Egyptians

Expats from the United States, Europe or elsewhere should find little difficulty in opening a personal bank account in Egypt. It’s a matter of producing the required official documentation – passport, work visa and residence certificate. A letter from the bank back home should also help in the application process as will a couple of recent bank statements. And that’s about it. Of course, you’ll need to be earning a decent monthly salary; too, otherwise the application is likely to end up in the waste paper bin.

mb-201401egyptSadly, for the great majority of Egyptians, a simple bank account remains well out of reach. At first glance, that may seem surprising given the large number of bank branches and cash machines visible in the major cities, towns and major tourist attractions. Appearances, however, are a little bit deceptive. The truth is the handsome salary you may – or may not – be earning is likely to be unusual when compared to the earnings power of most of Egypt’s citizens, especially those living and working in the remoter rural communities.

Read moreA Simple Bank Account Is Out Of Reach For Most Egyptians

My Personal Resolutions For 2014

I normally don’t do much in the way of New Year’s Resolutions in the true sense of the term.  I believe that doing things better or improving yourself should be an ongoing process, not something that you set to do just once per year.  I also think that most resolutions are set with such lofty ambitions that they are often abandoned when the goal isn’t easily in reach.

However, I did some thinking and realized that while personal improvement is something that can come about anytime, why not use the beginning of the year to set some new goals and refine some ongoing goals?  After all, this list can be added to or modified at any point, but I figure now’s a good a time as any to write some stuff done and see where it goes.

So, here are a few resolutions that I have for 2014:

Read moreMy Personal Resolutions For 2014