Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I'm a Ting!

After a while, if you're like me, you've cut all the expenses that you can or are willing to cut.  My rent, and internet are a fixed amount.  My utilities, I try to keep low, but when it's 15 degrees out, a girl needs to stay comfortable.  Gas for my car, phone bills, groceries--I try to keep those as low as I can without feeling like I'm depriving myself, but it still feels incredibly frustrating to get my paycheck and spend it all in a single day with little-to-nothing left over for savings.

So this is why I'm really, really excited to have found a way to cut back on one of those bills.

I've been with Sprint for nearly ten years, and I've hated Sprint for nearly that entire time.  Their service in the part of town where I live is lousy; they renew your contract for two years every time you get a new phone; they've tricked me into getting a new phone when I didn't actually want one; for some reason, they claim that my email address doesn't work every time I sign up for paperless billing (note: I've had the same email for longer than I've had sprint--it works fine); and for what I use my phone for, I'm just paying what feels like way too much money.  For instance, last month's bill, I used eight minutes of talk time, and sent and received 48 text messages.  My bill was $46.  That $46 also includes a 15% discount that I get because I used to work for Pepsi.  For what I use my phone for, that's just too much money, but I've always been too lazy to shop around for a better deal--if there even is one.

I've had Ting on my radar for a while now.  I actually blogged about them a year and a half ago, but at that time, if I had switched, I would have had to get a new phone, the only phones they supported were smart phones, and you couldn't keep your current phone number.  So I got on their email list and kept up with new developments.  Finally, they posted that you could port your number from your old phone AND, they had a lovely picture of my current cell phone on their website:
It's not fancy, but I love it
Last night, I made the switch, and when I woke up this morning, I had an email telling me how to reactivate my phone.

So far, there are two downsides:
  1. I use google voice instead of listening to voicemail, and that feature was disabled.  I'm not sure if I can get it back, but I haven't tried yet.
  2. There are issues with texting pictures to your email, which is something I did do a lot.  I saw that in their terms of service,  so I was prepared for it, but I'm not sure how much I'm going to miss having that option.
The upside: Currently my bill is $6.  Obviously, that will go up when I send more texts, etc., but now I have a lot more control of my expenses AND I'm not locked into a stupid plan.  If I decide that Ting doesn't work for me, I can just bail.

I'll keep you posted, but I'm feeling pretty smart right now.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Gone Dormant

I've had the idea in the back of my mind over and over for the last few months that I should really write a blog entry.  But then, I haven't.  My blogging has been super sporadic since I started my new job, and while a lot of that is down to just having a lot more responsibilities i.e. coming home tired a lot, another big part of it is that whole getting paid once a month thing.

It seems that when I don't have money coming into my life on a regular basis, I just don't think about it that much.  I kind of suspected that would be the case, but it's also surprising how it's just not on my radar.  I still update my daily budget, and I don't think my spending has gone out of control, but I feel like I have much less of a handle on it.  Nothing I can do about that, so  I'll continue to try to adjust.

Strangely, the month of February has brought a few extra checks my way, which has got me thinking about money again.
  • I filed my taxes and just got two healthy tax returns.  Since I am a good citizen, I immediately made a student loan payment.  Since I have been really, really slacking in the student loan payment department (I've been paying the minimum, but not attacking with my previously aggressive strategy), I found that paying $500 got me back to where I had been in November.  BUT, I made sure that my entire payment went only to the principle balance of one of my high interest loans, so that will save me major ducats over the long haul.
  • I worked a shift at job #2, which isn't a ton of cash, but 60% of that goes into my Roth IRA, which I have really been neglecting.
  • I did jury duty--again.  I got called up for jury duty exactly three years ago (which is the minimum amount of time they can wait), and then BOOM, blue notice in the mail again saying they would love to have me back.  Still, work paid me for the time I was sitting in the jury box, and I have a cool $30 coming in the mail soon.

On the downside, I had the major expense of a new laptop.  I finally decided to spend the money on a nice Macbook Pro, rather than keep buying a cheap PC every three years.  Thankfully, I have an emergency fund for just such an occasion, but unthankfully, I hate having to spend that much money on anything.  I just hope this computer actually lasts.  Cross your fingers for me!

Since getting paid monthly is going to be my situation for the foreseeable future, I really am hoping I adjust soon.  I have barely saved anything since starting this job, but the extra expense of living alone has made that difficult--not impossible though.  The weather is getting more temperate, and I don't have any major expenses coming up, so I'll keep plugging away!

Ever served Jury Duty?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Losing Weight for Fun and Profit!

I'm always on the hunt for a low-maintenance scheme that nets me a bit of extra cash, and I'm pleased to report I may have found the best one yet!

There is a program called Shape Up Rhode Island that kicks off every year in January.  I've always wanted to participate in it because I love exercise, and I love competition (apparently).  The competition thing is a recent revelation to me since I quit all sports by third grade, but it seems that when I'm competing at things I'm already good at, I get a bit crazy.

For $25, you sign up for Shape Up, and either pick a team or get placed on one.  Then your teams compete to get the most steps and hopefully win the grand prize, which this year is a trip to Europe (note: it does not say where in Europe--I suspect Poland.  Place your bets).

I've never participated before because I never wanted to pay the $25.  Now, my employer is willing to pay that, and I found that there's another weight loss research study available, and I'm participating in that as well.  All I have to do is track my calories and exercise, which I do anyway, and log it on their online platform.  Then I have to check in four times and get weighed.  I will earn between $1-$10 per week for 12 weeks, plus $25 each time I have to go there to weigh in and $50 for the final weigh in.  It's not a ton of money, but it's also earning money for something I was planning on doing anyway, so it's pretty awesome!

It's always nice when a scheme just falls into your lap.  I intend to put all this money in my travel fund, which hopefully will motivate me even more.  Now if winter would just go away so I can run outside, I'll be all set.