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Goodwill Smackdown Gift Card Winner

Congrats to Shelly for winning the $50 Goodwill gift card! Thanks for reading and playing everyone!

5 Things You Are Likely Paying Too Much For

2014 September 25
by Aaron

I think sometimes I take cutting our monthly bills too far. Just the other day, I ended up back at my old hair stylists chair after I had left her (after 4 years of great service, mind you) for another stylist who was charging $7 less. Sounds like an episode of the Young and the Restless, but how ridiculous is that? (And, yes, I did feebly try to explain to her my leaving for most of the summer was an attempt to save a buck or two – which she was more than gracious about).

Like everything in life – balance is often a worthy goal. I still believe in ruthlessly examining where our money is going and seeking to pay less wherever we can. Yet, I’m also keenly aware of paying for good service and products that will last (which can also save you in the long-term).

5 things you are paying too much for

With that in mind – I do want to write about some things I’ve been noticing of late that people around me (friends and family in particular) seem to be paying too much for.

  1. Cell phone plan

    Let’s start off right away with the heavy hitter – and one that you are probably most beholden to given that most of us already own one and always have it by our side. After Charlie did a review of this company earlier in the year, I finally signed up for their unbeatable cell phone plan. Starting at $5/month (for their basic wifi service) and going up to $40/month (for their 4G+ service), Republic Wireless is great option for saving on your cell phone plan. Even with taxes, my first bill came to $29.32 (I chose the $25/month, 3G, unlimited talk, text, data*). While you do have to purchase one of their phones (cheapest is a $99 model), their service is great and I have had no problems. If you’d prefer not to have to buy a new phone, Ting is another affordable option that Matthew reviewed for us in January. There’s no reason you should be paying more than $30 for your cell phone per month.

  2. Trash

    I think this is one of the most overlooked services when homeowners are going through their monthly bills, looking for areas to trim costs. We are a part of a homeowners association – and one of the first things our new management company did when we brought them on-board was to negotiate our sanitation bills. It was amazing how much they were able to save us. Even if you aren’t in an association, you can still lower your monthly trash bills by leveraging your neighbors and approaching different contractors to bid on  you and your neighbors service.

  3. Gas

    My brother and I were having an interesting discussion about bills and he told me about a co-worker of his who leases an electric car (with a $200/month payment) and basically eliminates any gas and most vehicle maintenance costs. What an interesting concept! My wife and I routinely spend over $300/month in gas-related and vehicle-related expenses. But, even if you don’t want to lease, Uber and other ride-sharing services are quickly becoming great gas-saving options.

  4. Landline

    We’ve mentioned Ooma before and what a great product they have in their Telo device ($140 at Amazon). For a one-time fee, it eliminates a monthly landline bill while giving you the option of still keeping your landline! Charlie loves the product and has been a happy customer for over 2 years. If you are paying for a landline every month, you are paying too much. (Full disclosure: Ooma is a site sponsor of TTG)

  5. Entertainment

    This is one area of our budget that I’m particularly proud of. We hardly spend anything on entertainment (okay, so I do a little more in the summer when golf season is in full swing). There’s just no reason to and if you are – you may not be using your creative juices. There’s free libraries, parks, bike trails and even Redbox movies (Hint: if you sign up for their emails or texts, you can get a free rental code almost every week! Text SIGNUP to 727272 to get going with text alerts).

So, what have I missed? Are there other things we tend to pay too much for every month?

Some of the links in this post contain affiliate links which may bring in a few extra bucks for us, at no cost to you.

2nd Annual Goodwill Smackdown – The Results + $50 Gift Card Giveaway

2014 September 22
by Aaron

goodwill-14After two weeks of scouring our local Goodwill stores to find that perfect item that we could flip for profit, the time has come to reveal the results of our Smackdown Challenge.

Who will have bragging rights for the next year of “supreme thrift store flipper” (last years winner was Laurie from our sister-site,

If you’ll remember, each participant was tasked with finding 3 items (one in household, one clothing and another miscellaneous item) and needed to resell those items on ebay or Craigslist. The highest percentage of profit (on any of the items) would be the winner. read more…

Lessons I Learned From My Great Depression Parents

2014 September 18
by Charlie

charlie_imageMy parents were products of parents that lived through the heart of the Depression. They had Great Depression living practiced every day of their life. Consequently, I am the product of Great Depression grandparents, which was passed down through both my parents. As they say, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

In talking with my wife about an idea on what to write about, she said, “Why not talk about things that you do as a result of watching your parents?” From our discussion, I realized that, ya, I do have a lot of what I consider natural tendencies, which originated from the Depression. Hopefully, my examples will spur up ideas for you to comment on how your parent’s money saving lifestyles impressed upon you. read more…

Always Ask for the Special

2014 September 15

This one is going to be short and sweet (I hope). My family and I had the chance to get away from it all this past week and it was a very welcomed break. While we were away, my brother, his son and I hit up a driving range that had a chip and putt on its grounds (for those of you who aren’t “in the know” about golf – a “chip and putt” course is one where most of the golf holes are less than 100 yards – so all you really need to do is hit a “chip” and a “putt”). read more…

Why You Can’t Be Trusted to Save Money

2014 September 11
by Aaron

I was skimming through Reddit and found this (kind of) offensive video on “Why American’s Are So Bad at Saving Money“. Here, have a look and let me know what you think in the comments section.

To the author’s credit, it’s true we aren’t doing so great at saving money. As the video states, in the 1970’s, American’s socked away about 12% of their take-home pay. Today, that number has dwindled to 5%.

But, can you blame us?
read more…

3 Types of Hobbies

2014 September 8

matthewAccording to Wikipedia (just to flaunt my credibility from the start), a hobby is an “activity, interest, enthusiasm, or amateur pastime that is undertaken for pleasure or relaxation, typically done in one’s leisure time.”  I like how the definition implies that the activity is life-giving. Along with the definition, the site provides over 250 ideas for hobbies that I’ll share from.

A friend of mine gave me advice recently in considering hobbies. He said there were three hobbies that I ought to try and have: a hobby that improves my health, a hobby that makes money, and a hobby that stimulates my mind. read more…

The 2nd Annual Goodwill Smackdown Challenge

2014 September 4
by Aaron

goodwill-14Hey thrifty friends! We are excited to announce our 2nd Annual Goodwill Smackdown Challenge! What’s all the fuss about you ask?

Last year, our man Charlie had the brilliant idea of holding a thrift store challenge where each participate (three thrifty guys and a thrifty gal), would purchase a “valuable” item at their local Goodwill store which they believed might turn a profit. The person with the highest profit would end up winning the Challenge (last year, it was our resident thrifty gal).

For the 2nd installment of the Goodwill Smackdown, we are going to do things a little bit different.

Here’s how this year’s contest will go down: read more…

Ask the Credit Expert: What’s the Ideal Credit Score?

2014 August 29
by Guest

credit expert“Kay” is Kayleigh GaddorCommunity Manager at Credit Karma.

Dear Kay:

Should I leave a credit card open if I’m never going to use it again?


Unless that card has an annual fee, the answer will usually be “yes.” Closing a credit card reduces the overall amount of credit available to you, which affects your credit card utilization rate, a significant factor of your credit score. Having more credit available to you is generally a good indicator of overall creditworthiness, which lenders like to see.  Just keep in mind that you may need to occasionally use the card throughout year to keep the account active (and of course, make sure you pay your bills to keep it current). read more…

Ooma Safety Phone Review

2014 August 27
by Charlie


Over the last two and a half years many of you had heard my enthusiasm about the Ooma Telo home phone system, which has been saving my family money hand over fist. Thus far, the Ooma Telo has saved us over $750 over my previous phone service.

However, I’m not here to repeat my glowing reviews about the Ooma home phone service. No…I am proud to announce a new service that Ooma is offering! It is called the Ooma Safety Phone, and it is just as easy to setup as the basic Ooma Telo phone system. This little device can be used for elderly friends or relatives if you are concerned that they might fall or young kids that are left home alone and might need to contact a parent quickly.  read more…

Does Cub Foods Really Have Lower Prices?

2014 August 25
by Laurie

The following post has been brought to you by Cub Foods

laurieWhen we lived in the city, Cub Foods was our “go to” grocery store. The local store there was clean and inviting, the staff was great and the produce was always excellent in quality. After we moved to the country nearly two years ago, however, we had a “budget epiphany” and have since done the majority of our shopping at another store with notably lower prices.

Although most other things about this particular store are good, I’ve never been very happy with the produce selection, and have missed the great produce I always found at Cub Foods.  However, with the money savings of a good 15-20% that I get at the big box store grocer, I just couldn’t bring myself to start shopping at the local Cub Foods here.  For a big family on a budget, cash just has to be the deciding factor in where we choose to grocery shop. Cub always has terrific weekly deals, so we’d often stop in there to scoop up their great weekly specials, but the majority of our shopping was done at the big box store with the low, low prices.  read more…