Three Thrifty Guys http://www.threethriftyguys.com Personal finance blog helping folks keep a few more bucks in their pocket Tue, 31 Mar 2015 04:37:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 How the Road to Debt Freedom is Filled With Boring Decisions http://www.threethriftyguys.com/2015/03/how-the-road-to-debt-freedom-is-filled-with-boring-decisions/ http://www.threethriftyguys.com/2015/03/how-the-road-to-debt-freedom-is-filled-with-boring-decisions/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 09:00:31 +0000 http://www.threethriftyguys.com/?p=5482 charlie_imageIn 2007, after reading Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, my wife and I decided to start putting our family on the road to freedom from debt. We want to live an extra-ordinary life. We wanted to live like no one else, so we could later live like no one else. Que the radio show intro!

With motivation in hand, we had about $25,000 in student loan debt and about $145,000 in mortgage debt. Not a lot by most peoples’ standards, but it was all future commitments that our family was obligated to pay. $170,000 in future commitments to be exact.

Fast forward eight years, with only $75,000 left to payoff, and we are on the home stretch of road to debt freedom! It feels like we are coming to the end of a marathon. At this point we are at about miles 20 of 26.2 miles. This is where our body has been depleted of all glycogen stores, and you are operating solely on endorphins! Each mile feels harder and harder from this point on. With that said, here are a few of my feelings on how paying off debt isn’t for those who are faint at heart.

Paying off debt isn’t like day trading stocks

When we started paying extra on our student loans and mortgage, I thought it would feel like I was day trading. Something like I was playing a casino slot machine and when I clicked submit, then my computer would start dinging and flashing. Instead clicking submit feels very sterile and uneventful. It just says, “Payment Confirmed”. So if you are looking for a lot of excitement, then paying off debt isn’t for you.

Paying off debt can be boring at times

Like I mentioned above, debt payoff can be boring at times and monotonous. Often times it feels like it is more about perseverance than it is about finances.  Ultimately, if you can outlast the monotony of paying extra on all your credit every month, then you can win. It definitely isn’t like playing the slots at your local casino. The whole phrase of, “Payment Confirmed”, should come with bells and whistles that get set off from your computer when you hit submit. I think this would make it a lot more exciting! :) Would you agree?

Paying off debt isn’t always socially accepted

In a marketing driven culture of so many wants being projected on us, it has many people in the financial rat race. Since most Americans are in debt up to their eye balls, then people who are pursuing financial freedom aren’t always accepted. They think, “well my neighbor should have $10,000 in credit card debt, a $300,000 mortgage, and two car payments just like me.” (just like Stanley Johnson)


If you live like or tell people your intention is to pay off all your debt quickly, then they look at you like you just land in Nebraska from a space ship that flew in from Pluto!

Paying off debt is more about psychology than numbers

“If all finances were was about math, then why don’t you see more mathematicians as millionaires?” Interesting question isn’t it? I remember hearing this quote on Dave’s show one day, and thought, “You know what? He’s got a point. If becoming a millionaire was all about numbers, then why aren’t more mathematicians millionaires?” After thinking about it a while and through our own debt payoff experience, I’ve quickly realized the debt freedom is more about small individual choices you make from day to day. Those small decisions are all driven by our wants/needs/desires, which drives numbers. A lot of the psychology behind debt freedom is constantly evaluating and modifying behavior to suppress wants and desires to modify long term financial behavior.

So as our family tries to finish up this hard journey, I just wanted to share some of my thoughts. I would like to hear other people’s thoughts on their road to debt freedom. Do you agree or disagree? What is hard and what is easy for you?

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Integrity in Finances http://www.threethriftyguys.com/2015/03/integrity-in-finances/ http://www.threethriftyguys.com/2015/03/integrity-in-finances/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:21:55 +0000 http://www.threethriftyguys.com/?p=5527 Writing this post is going to cost me. I did the calculation today, actually. It’s going to cost me $7. It’s not for an internet fee (TTG pays that). It’s not for the Dr. Pepper I had to drink to stay up late to write it (that was $1.27 at QuickTrip). It’s what I owe the United States government after the dust settles and I add this “Other Income” to the amount of money I make for the year. Now, hopefully I will make more than $8 for writing this post (this is not a subliminally shady indirect ask for a raise…or is it???) so there will be a net income for me. However, I was challenged to think about “Other Income” that I receive in a different way after filing my taxes this year.

I’m one of the few…um… “unique” people that look forward to completing my taxes each year. I enjoy the task of compiling a bunch of paperwork, punching away at my TI-84 calculator, hunting down answers in the literary piece of art known as the tax codes, and drinking can after can of Dr. Pepper until the job is done!

The hardest part of this process for me is the character check that comes along with it. The integrity it takes to honestly represent my financial dealings is at times extremely difficult to muster up. I’m talking about the $380 dollars I made from selling textbooks online in 2014. I’m talking about the $50 my wife made babysitting that one time back in August. I’m talking about the small but helpful income from writing blog posts like this (again, not a hint…). I tried to identify the hurdles to having 100% integrity in my finances, especially my tax returns. Here are a few I came up with…

  1. The “Too Small to Count” Factor… I mean Uncle Sam is dealing with millions and millions of dollars…a few dollars I keep won’t hurt him.
  2. Making the Government the Bad Guy… thoughts creep in like “they waste my money anyways” and “they already took enough for goodness sakes!”
  3. The Comparison Game… A minor “whoops I forgot to mention that” is nothing compared to other people who are the tax evaders. THEY are the bad guys!
  4. The Ignorance Card… Well if I don’t look up if it’s taxable income then I’ll always have that excuse!
  5. Playing the Numbers… and coming to the conclusion that more than likely I won’t be audited…so therefore nobody will know or check on it.

The hurdles I came up with are real and may even have some validity to an extent. However, I’m trying to  commit myself to not letting these justifications stop me from being 100% honest on my return. One thing I do to help me is to prepare my taxes with a like-minded person who agrees that honesty is the top priority, with financial gain as a priority underneath it. Most importantly, I’ve made the connection that ultimately somebody is watching the decisions I make and does know the exact level of my integrity in every decision. This year and going forward I’m striving to be 100% honest with my taxes not because the government deserves it, but because I think God desires it, expects it, and rewards it.

What about you? What are hurdles you face in  keeping integrity in finances? What do you do to overcome them?

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How to Setup the Ooma Wireless + Bluetooth Adapter http://www.threethriftyguys.com/2015/03/how-to-setup-the-ooma-wireless-bluetooth-adapter/ http://www.threethriftyguys.com/2015/03/how-to-setup-the-ooma-wireless-bluetooth-adapter/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 11:54:57 +0000 http://www.threethriftyguys.com/?p=5467 charlie_imageAs I’ve invested a lot in my Ooma home phone service, I decided to stack up my investment even more, and get the Ooma Wireless + Bluetooth Adapter. I want to have the flexibility to put my base phone unit anywhere in the house. The Ooma Wireless + Bluetooth Adapter with USB connection allows me to be able to make this move. As I unboxed and demonstrated in the setup video, here are a few things you need first.

Requirements:

As the Quick Start Guide that is included with the unit explains, it is extremely easy to setup. The instructions come with three easy steps. These steps took about 3-5 minutes to complete and I was well on my way to having wireless freedom with my Ooma. Here are the steps I followed:

  1. Install the wireless adapter in the back of your Ooma base unit
  2. Connect your home computer to your Ooma device via network cable (use the home port on the Ooma device)
  3. Configure wireless settings by going to setup.ooma.com (you can bring up a command prompt on your computer and ping “setup.ooma.com”, which will test your local connection via the network cable)

Here is a short video I made on how to setup Ooma wireless adapter.

In order to setup the Ooma Bluetooth Adapter to either a cell phone or hands free device, then follow the three easy steps below.

  1. Go to setup.ooma.com and select Bluetooth. Type in a Bluetooth Service Name, enable Bluetooth Service (and you can allow Bluetooth audio transfer), and then click Update & Add device
  2. Clicking add and you will see your Bluetooth device. Select it, and click next
  3. Note the default pin, and click add

Now your Ooma Bluetooth Adapter is connected to your Bluetooth device. Since I set it up, I was really impressed with the functionality of using the Bluetooth services. It was neat how when my cell phone is called that it rings both my home phone system (with caller id showing it through my cell) and my cell phone. Here are a few print screens from my setup that may benefit you.

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Ooma-Bluetooth-Setup3

Hope you enjoy the Ooma Wireless + Bluetooth Adapter as much as I do! Let me know your thoughts if you are using it and any comments below.

This article has been brought to you by our friends at Ooma. All opinions expressed are 100% the authors.

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Groupon Coupons Review http://www.threethriftyguys.com/2015/03/groupon-coupons-review/ http://www.threethriftyguys.com/2015/03/groupon-coupons-review/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 12:20:26 +0000 http://www.threethriftyguys.com/?p=5470 ruserGroupon made a name for itself with its deal-of-the-day discounted gift certificates. With Groupon Coupons, the company now has a more traditional way to save.

Groupon Coupon is free to use: it has thousands of coupons from thousands of retailers, available to anyone with no upfront cost. But the name “Groupon Coupons” is a bit of a misnomer. The site says it has over 55,000 coupons from over 8,000 retailers, but many — if not most — of these “coupons” are just descriptions of current sales. 


For example, as of March 17th, the site lists 66 total coupons for Target but 47 of them are listings of sales that are already advertised in stores and online. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; a sale can be just as good as a coupon, and Groupon Coupon can be a great way to find sales at your favorite stores. But people hunting for actual coupons may find the site has little to offer them.

Furthermore, the majority of the coupons that I found were actually promo codes to be used online. I found very few printable coupons that could be used in an actual store. Obviously, this won’t be a problem for online shoppers, but those hoping for coupons to scan at a register may be disappointed.

Perhaps more disappointing: finding coupons or sales for something specific can be an exercise in frustration. As I said, the site boasts over 55,000 coupons and sales, and Groupon editors are working around-the-clock to add more every day. The search option should make finding relevant coupons easier but it usually brings back a broad range of results for you to pore over, many of which are barely relevant.

Coupon specific pages for your favorite brands
Coupon specific pages from your favorite brands

Searching by retailer is easy. Headed to Home Depot or Walgreens? Want to do some spring shopping at Nordstroms? You can go to pages dedicated specifically to those stores and see all of their current coupons and sales. But if you are looking for a coupon for something specific, you’ll likely have to do a little digging since you can’t search for specific items. You can search for predefined categories (e.g., electronics, jewelry, pet supplies, etc.) but that can bring up hundreds, even thousands of irrelevant results.

Despite that, Groupon Coupons is still worth a visit before you shop (or, if you’re already at the store, you can pull up Groupon Coupons through the Groupon app on iPhones and Androids). It’s a great way to find current sales at your favorite retailers, and with some patience and persistence, you may be able to find a coupon for specific products. Additionally, I’ve seen a few retailers offer deals that are apparently only available through Groupon Coupon.

So while the user-experience is lacking, that doesn’t stop Groupon Coupon from being a good resource. With thousands of coupons and sales for thousands of retailers, the site can help you find a good deal. But like most other thrifty undertakings, it will likely take some extra effort to save money.

Have you used Groupon Coupons? What was your experience like?

This post has been brought to you by Groupon. All opinions expressed are 100% the authors.

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Important Steps to Home Ownership http://www.threethriftyguys.com/2015/03/important-steps-to-home-ownership/ http://www.threethriftyguys.com/2015/03/important-steps-to-home-ownership/#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 15:56:21 +0000 http://www.threethriftyguys.com/?p=5469 This post is written and sponsored by U.S. Bank.

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So, you’re ready to make the big leap into home ownership? Good for you. Home ownership can be a great experience and holds a number of tangible and intangible benefits. But first, you need to actually buy that property, which, especially if this is your first home, can feel more than a little complicated. 

Understanding the mortgage process

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Since a home is arguably the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, being prepared is key to having a successful experience. Doing some homework ahead of time – specifically on mortgage prequalification, the type of mortgage that’s best for you and determining how much home you can afford – will benefit you when it comes time to take the plunge.

U.S. Bank is a great resource to help you navigate the often complex home-buying process. And if you’re really new to this frequently perplexing world, look no further than Achieve Your Goals, a new financial resources site from U.S. Bank. It’s full of information on a wealth of topics, including a My Home section filled with great articles on everything related to mortgages, homes and the home-buying process.

What is prequalification?

undefinedPrequalifying for a mortgage is an important step in the home-buying process. It lets everyone involved know you’re serious about buying a home, and is a great way to help keep the process running smoothly. To see how much you may be able to borrow, and under what conditions, complete a mortgage prequalification request with U.S. Bank to get the ball rolling. You may be surprised what you may possibly qualify for. To do this, know that you’ll need to be a legal U.S. resident and 18 or older. Also, you’ll need to know your pre-tax annual household income and monthly household debt.

If you have been pre-qualified, the next step is determining what type of mortgage makes sense for your individual circumstances, as there are various types of mortgage loans. There are plenty of resources available where you can learn about the different types of mortgages that could be available to you.

How much home can you afford?

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First, figure out your plans for occupancy. Are you intent on living in the house for only a few years? Or maybe for the rest of your life? Are you in the military? Or have your eye on your dream home? Your answers to these questions could determine the type of loan and home that will work best for your personal buying experience.

Whatever your circumstances are, give it some thought ahead of time. To get estimates of what your mortgage payments could look like, try this U.S. Bank mortgage calculators.

Once you’ve been prequalified, determined what type of mortgage makes the most sense for you and know how much home you can afford, you’ll be ready to start looking for that dream home.

Happy house-hunting!

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Amazing Thrift Store Finds http://www.threethriftyguys.com/2015/03/amazing-thrift-store-finds/ http://www.threethriftyguys.com/2015/03/amazing-thrift-store-finds/#comments Wed, 11 Mar 2015 12:04:02 +0000 http://www.threethriftyguys.com/?p=5460 Courtesy NY Daily News
Courtesy NY Daily News

Recently I read about this man who walked in to a neighborhood Goodwill thrift store looking for a golf cart. While there, he took a look at the watches in the display case and discovered one that looked a bit out of place. He had recognized its unique quality and upon further inspection discovered that it was a rare diving watch. 



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Excitedly, he plopped down the asking price of $5.99 for the timepiece, rushed home and sold it for $35,000!

I guess it pays to be alert and “know” what’s out there.

While I thought this had to be a pretty rare occurrence, I soon learned of a couple more incredible thrift store finds.

At another Goodwill store in North Carolina, the buyer was unbeknownst to his find. He paid 58 cents for a black and yellow, collegiate sweater emblazoned with “West Point” on the front.

vince lombardi west point sweaterDays later, the man and his wife were watching a documentary on the legendary Green Bay Packers football coach, Vince Lombardi when they saw him wearing a familiar sweater.

“Honey, doesn’t that look like the one you picked up at the thrift store the other day?”

“Sure does.”

The rare find is expected to fetch $20,000 at auction.

Lastly, a doctor shopping her neighborhood thrift store happened upon a suit that appeared too good to be true. What looked like an authentic astronaut suit worn by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield turned out to be the real deal. The doctor reached out to Hadfield via Facebook and he confirmed it was his old suit.

He’s just not sure how it got there.

My finds

While I haven’t had the fortunate as these thrift store shoppers, I do keep my eyes peeled on various items that I have familiarity with when perusing the aisles. During our last Goodwill Smackdown, I did happen upon a nice board game that fetched me a whopping $10 profit.

I also thought I had a rare find when I stumbled upon an old Ben Hogan putter. But that turned out to be a dud.

I’ll continue to hit up the thrift stores and enjoy that excitement of the “hunt”.

Have you ever stumbled upon a rare thrift store find or something unusual? 

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How to Find Unclaimed Money, Credits for Your Cell Phone Bill and More http://www.threethriftyguys.com/2015/03/how-to-find-unclaimed-money-credits-for-your-cell-phone-bill-and-more/ http://www.threethriftyguys.com/2015/03/how-to-find-unclaimed-money-credits-for-your-cell-phone-bill-and-more/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 12:13:53 +0000 http://www.threethriftyguys.com/?p=5451 Everyone likes freebies and special offers. Here’s a few places around the web where you can get free things and keep a few more bucks in your pocket! We hope to continue this feature every month. Please let us know if you have found any other free stuff around the web or elsewhere.

Find unclaimed money

Mark mentioned this site several years ago here – but I always feel it is worthy of another mention. Every now and then, I check this site myself – just in case something pops up on it that I may not know about. Instead of sifting through each state’s website, MissingMoney.com aggregates a listing of property or money that has not been claimed by individuals. Try and enter your name or someone you love – and you may get a pleasant surprise! 


You can also try these sites for unclaimed funds:

places to find unclaimed money

$150 credit on your AT&T cell phone bill

If you are an American Express OPEN! Business Card holder, you may want to take advantage of this credit that is being offered. It’s $150 back on your wireless bill if you pay with the OPEN card and your account is over $150. Here’s more details on the offer via SlickDeals.net. Offer ends 4/15/15.

Also, I just got a targeted offer of a $10 bill credit on my AT&T bill when I pay with an American Express card. Balance must be over $75. Check the special card offers in your account at the AMEX website to see if you qualify.

Places that will pay you to live there

Cameron Huddleston of Kiplingers published a recent piece on “4 Places That Will Actually Pay You to Live There“. Some of them offer credits to build a home – such as Harmony, MN – population 1,020. I know Alaska offers a yearly rebate for those who live there year-round. Looks like residents will get about $1,800 back from 2014.

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