Three Thrifty Guys Personal finance blog helping folks keep a few more bucks in their pocket Tue, 26 May 2015 12:16:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Ooma Mobile HD – Now Offers Free Mobile Calling Tue, 26 May 2015 12:16:21 +0000 ooma-mobile-appSpring is in the air with the trees in bloom, birds chirping, and the new grass just starting to emerge! Exciting isn’t it? It’s got me eager to save money and find new ways of saving our family money.

On that money saving note, I just recently noticed that Ooma is again extending the value it’s offering Ooma customers. They just announced a new release of the Ooma Mobile App. With the new release, Ooma is announcing some important updates for mobile users:

Ooma Basic Customers (about $3-4 per month – taxes)

  • Unlimited outbound domestic calling for free (previously cost basic customers 1.6¢ per minute!)
  • Available for download at iTunes and Google Play

Ooma Premier Service (about $13-14 per month – with taxes and fees)

  • Unlimited inbound and outbound domestic calling for free
  • Receive incoming calls from your home phone number
  • Available for download at iTunes and Google Play

The app offers a lot of features like uploading your contacts to the Ooma address book, listening to Ooma voicemail, and changing your account preferences directly from the app. Use Ooma instead of your mobile calling plan and save minutes and money.

In testing it on my own Android phone, over a five minute call, it used about 1MB per minute. So compared to the other apps I’ve tested out, it is extremely efficient in using your bandwidth and can be used to lower your cell phone talk minutes. This is especially a great alternative if you have an unlimited mobile data plan and want to lower your cell minute costs.

Along with all the free domestic calling, you can save on international calling with the Ooma Mobile App. Take along Ooma when you travel internationally and save on international calls, or make domestic calls for free over Wi-Fi. Use with the Ooma World Plan for the lowest international calling available, which is $17.99 for unlimited international calling to over 60 countries. This can be another great option for cell phone users, because you can put all your international calling through Ooma as opposed to one international plan for cell phones and one plan for your home phone.

I honestly love how Ooma is constantly stepping up their game and offering so many valuable options on top of their Basic and Premier phone service like the Ooma Mobile App, expanded blacklistingintegration with your Nest devices, and the neat gadgets (like the Ooma Bluetooth + Wireless Adapter and Ooma Linx). I can completely understand how Ooma is #1 in value and customer satisfaction.

Purchase an Ooma Telo (and save!)

This article was brought to you by our friends at Ooma

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Where Do You Put Your Savings? Fri, 22 May 2015 14:37:19 +0000 where do you stash your cashLately, I’ve been watching a video series on personal finance at that is taught by financial advisor, Jane Barratt. If you are wanting to learn more about personal finance OR just need a few extra tips and insights about your finances, I’d highly recommend you check it out.

In the series, Barratt mentioned something very simple but profound about where we stash our money. She noted that many of us could be unknowingly cheating ourselves by where we put our savings.

No brainer, right? Well, please stay with me for a second.

Currently, my bank (and savings account, with U.S. Bank) offers 0.05% on money that I have in their account. So, every month they deposit a few cents here for my allowing them to use my money. As you know, banks make money off of your money that you keep in their vaults. And, in return, many of them pay you a mere pittance for the privilege.

In our case, we have two checking accounts that we have money in. One acts as a savings account and the other is a regular checking account where money comes in and out. We hardly ever touch that savings account. That being the case, Barratt suggests that we ought to be looking for the best highest yielding savings account.

Granted, we aren’t going to get rich off the interest. But, here’s a look at what is currently out there, per the NerdWallet’s savings account rate chart:

savings accounts 2015Rates as of 5/22/2015

I don’t know about you, but 1.05% looks a lot better than 0.05%!

Given that I could be getting a better return on my savings, I am essentially cheating my family out of a whole percentage of interest from our savings! Yikes!

Needless to say – this is not earth-shattering, but something to really keep in mind. And, over time, we all know how this stuff adds up.

Where do you keep your savings?

Since we all manage our money differently, I’d be curious to know where you put your savings? I’m assuming that you want it readily available in case of emergencies or other needs. But, given that most of this money doesn’t get touched very often, do you invest it, put it in a money market, under your bed?

I’d be curious to know.

(Personally, we have another online account with Discover. While they aren’t the highest, they do offer a decent return of 0.90% on a savings account.)

Open a Discover Savings Account

We may receive compensation if you open an account through the above link, at no cost to you. 

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How Much Does Term Life Insurance Cost? Mon, 18 May 2015 12:27:45 +0000 Term life insurance is the most affordable option when it comes to protecting your loved ones should the unexpected happen. The exact pricing varies depending upon the individual, the product, and the amount of coverage you choose. Everyone’s situation is unique so a policy that works for some may not be the best choice for another. Two people with the same type of policy may also pay different rates depending upon the individual’s age, health, and lifestyle.


5 Factors that Affect Life Insurance Costs

  1. Age – The younger you are, the cheaper life insurance is because you most likely won’t be dying soon. If you are 70 years old and looking to get life insurance, the insurance carriers see that as a high risk so you pay more.
  2. Health – Your height and weight, and smoking status, as well as chronic conditions such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and asthma all affect the cost.
  3. Gender – Women statistically live longer which means they would be paying premiums longer so life insurance costs tend to be cheaper.
  4. Family History – Your health could be clean as a whistle, but if your entire immediate family was diagnosed with heart disease at age 50 then you most likely will be paying more. The insurance carrier considers the risk that you too may develop heart disease.
  5. Hobbies – Scuba diving, skydiving, private aviation, world travel, any recreational activities that could be considered risky affect life insurance costs.

Term Life Insurance Cost

As its name states, term insurance only provides coverage for a specific period of time. You can purchase term insurance for 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 years, however long you need depending on your situation. It’s the cheapest form of life insurance because it is only a defined coverage period, not your entire life, and does not have a cash-value aspect. If you are healthy and relatively young (20s through 50s) you can buy thousands of dollars of life insurance coverage for under a dollar a day.

Example: You’re 30 years old and you pay $15 a month for $100,000 worth of coverage that will last for a 30-year term to protect your family from financial hardship if something happened to you.

If you should die within the term, the entire coverage amount goes to your beneficiaries. When your term ends, your coverage ends. If you decide to extend or renew your policy, you have the option but your premiums will be higher since you are older and probably not as healthy. There is also a chance you may be deemed uninsurable and denied additional coverage.

Before your term length ends, you have the option of converting it to a permanent life insurance policy. A clause is written into most term insurance contracts that allows you to make that conversion. Term is ideal for those who need coverage for a specific period of time, but if your situation changes and you prefer coverage for your lifetime converting is an option.

Example: You purchase a 20-year term policy with a 10-year conversion clause. This means if you are nine years into your contract and want to convert, you are free to do so without having to go through additional medical exams and would be able to obtain the same coverage at a lower premium than that of a completely new policy.

Return of Premium Term Life Insurance Cost

Return of premium term life insurance (ROP) is a term insurance policy in which the insurance carrier returns all the premiums you paid if you outlive the term length. Your beneficiaries still receive the death benefit should you die during the term.

Your monthly or annual premiums are fixed and do not change as you get older or if your health changes. ROP premiums are higher than traditional term because the insurance carrier is paying out whether you live or die, pending you pay your premiums keeping the policy in force.

Example: You’re 30 years old and purchase a 30-year ROP policy. You will pay $35 monthly or $390 annually for $100,000 worth of coverage. Should you die at age 40, your beneficiaries receive the $100,000 death benefit. Should the 30-year term policy end and you are still living, the insurance carrier gives you back the entire premium amount you paid tax-free ($12,600 if you paid monthly, $11,700 if you paid annually.)

There are many factors to consider when shopping for life insurance. It is a very personal decision and should be determined thoughtfully. No one ever anticipates needing to use life insurance, but the unexpected happens. Be prepared and get a free and anonymous term life insurance quote today.

Get a FREE life insurance quote

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How I Made Money Off Krispy Kreme – and Why You Should (Probably) Buy Your Own Stocks Fri, 15 May 2015 11:44:19 +0000 KRISPY-kreme-stockEarly in my 20’s I was gifted several thousands of dollars by a relative. This was a LOT of money to me at the time and I really wanted to make good use of it.

But, I wasn’t that great with money. I had thousands in school loan debt and had just made one of the worst purchases in my life. Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly in the right frame of mind to make good decisions with money.

However, one good thing that I did with that money was to invest a part of it in stocks. At the time, online trading was still relatively very new. But, I was encouraged by a co-worker of mine who was doing some trading online himself – and so I thought, “if he can do it, why can’t I?”

While he was mainly pushing me into penny-stocks – I decided to pick stocks that I thought might have the potential to grow. After opening an online account with Etrade, several stocks caught my eye. One of them, was a newer stock, called Krispy Kreme.

Years previously, I had spent a winter in California and folks there were going ga-ga over a donut that had perfect glaze and “melted in your mouth.” Being a donut-connoisseur, I had to try one.

And, they were.. great!

What I knew about Krispy Kreme was that people loved them, and they were opening shop after shop on the West coast.

So when I saw they were being publicly traded, I had to buy some shares.

My observation of human behavior and decision to make that trade ended up being a good one. At the time, stocks were tanking as a result of 9/11 and other market conditions – but Krispy Kreme kept growing and the share price skyrocketed.

You only invest in stocks?

I ended up selling my shares of Krispy Kreme years later after greed began to take hold of the company. They were growing too fast, losing quality and (more importantly) losing demand. I knew this wasn’t a good sign.

I made money while I held the stock – but shortly after I stopped doing any more online trading. And years later when I had more steady employment, I opted for the traditional 401k and other managed funds.

The other day I had a conversation with a good friend who’s done well for himself financially. I asked him about his investments and was surprised to learn that he only invests in stocks. He does it himself – through an online broker.

No mutual funds or financial adviser – just himself.

He talked about how trading prices are quite low – and if you subscribe to a “buy and hold” strategy of investing (which many succesful investors, do), you can do away with all those other fees you are paying with managed funds.

He is right. Why do I (we) continually pay for fees on top of fees for a mutual fund / 401k – when I’m taking on all the risk? 

Jane Barrett, CEO of GoldBean, says that between 1976 and 2006, mutual funds (professionally managed funds) only beat the market 1% of the time after fees. That’s crazy!

So, why does everyone put their money in this stuff?

My guess: a perceived sense of safety.

I may be getting back into online trading

Granted, on the risk spectrum – investing in stocks / mutual funds is higher up there. You could lose it all. But, we’ve seen that – over time – stocks tend to go up and is a fairly good place to help your money grow.

I really think that purchasing stocks is a matter of observing people’s behavior. What are folks buying – what do people need/use? What has a good potential for growth? I mean, any of us can do this, right?

Since I’m already paying $15-20+ in fees every month in my 401k, I might as well pick up some stocks here or there – and avoid the monthly fees altogether, as my friend is doing. Why pay someone else to do something I can do?

I’d be interested to hear if you buy your own stocks, invest in index funds or use other investment vehicles that don’t tack on as much goofy fees?

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Free $20 Target Gift Card When You Create a College Registry Mon, 11 May 2015 13:25:43 +0000 Found this deal on SlickDeals this morning – and thought it was worthy of the share being that many will be getting ready for college this fall.

The details are as following:

Add a minimum of $500 + 15 items and receive a $20 gift card. Quantities limited to the first 50,000 students. Valid on new registries created May 10 to May 16, 2015. Registrants will receive a physical gift card by mail within 3 weeks of completion of registry. P.O. Boxes and International shipping will not be eligible. Limit of 1 registry per student. No rain checks.

Hope it lightens your going-to-college bills!

Create your registry and get a $20 gift card

(Once on the homepage, scroll to see the “$20 gift card banner” with the college registry link)

Three Thrifty Guys may receive a commission on any sales through the above link at no cost to you.

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Why Have Auto Dealerships Stopped Negotiating? Wed, 06 May 2015 12:19:47 +0000 This past weekend I had the pleasure of accompanying my mother in her quest to find a new car. We visited a couple of smaller dealerships and each one was singing the same tune: We don’t negotiate.

In fact, as soon as we got into the car with the salesman from the second dealership, he made it a point to tell us (as if it was a great service to the customer) they set their car prices competitively and take negotiating out of the equation.

“It’s kind of like Target. Most people don’t want to walk into the store and have to haggle over the prices of everything. It is what it is. People don’t like to negotiate prices.”

“I do,” I blurted out. I couldn’t help myself.

dealers wont negotiate

Why many car dealers stopped negotiating

I think I understand the issue here. (But, if you are in the car business – please jump in! – I’d love to get your thoughts).

Since Kelley Blue Book went online – and now everybody and their grandma has access to the same pricing information – a vehicle’s value is no longer a mystery. All one has to do is plug in the details of an automobile and you soon have its worth. This is a great tool for anyone looking to sell their used car to someone else OR looking to buy one.

Dealers have turned this into their advantage by taking negotiations out of the picture completely and just going by the Blue Book OR – (as my mother was told by one dealership) – “the bank sets the price for me and I can’t go any less”.

For many people, negotiating anything is a bit of a chore. It’s uncomfortable, can be awkward and – if we’re honest – a little scary. Unlike other cultures, we generally accept what the price is and pay it. Oftentimes, negotiating can make you look “cheap”. No one wants that label.

Dealerships have used this fear of negotiating to their advantage too – by eliminating it all together.

“We want your car buying process to be pleasant – our prices are AS IS, no negotiating necessary!”

But here’s my problem

Of all places – I thought small-town America would still be in to negotiating car prices! But, this philosophy has infiltrated our great country-side! (unfortunately)

While I think I understand the issue at hand and many dealers are turning to a policy of non-negotiation, I’m not entirely comfortable with it. Why?

Here’s the thing. I don’t know what Ace Dealership paid for that vehicle. Sure, the Kelley Blue Book prices it at $4,500 – but whose to say Ace didn’t pay $2,000 for it? Many dealers buy their inventory at auctions – often times getting great deals on cars that us average car buyers don’t have access to (or the time / know-how to access).

So, while the car may be worth a said amount – there is often “room to negotiate”. Now, I’m okay with capitalism and the dealer getting their fair share. But, we’re not negotiating the price of a lamp stand here. A vehicle purchase is one of those big-ticket items we want to make sure we are getting the best possible price on.

What do you think?

I’d love to hear if you share this frustration with car buying OR perhaps you are happy with the new way of purchasing a vehicle.

(Here’s an interesting article – with good comments – written in ’13 about non-negotiation car sales)

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5 Types of People Who Need Life Insurance Mon, 04 May 2015 12:07:59 +0000 The goal of life insurance is to provide a measure of financial security to your loved ones should you die. In its simplest form, it’s a tool to protect against the loss of income. Not everyone needs life insurance and maybe you are trying to decide if you should purchase or not.

Are there people in your life that would be negatively impacted financially if you died? This would mean a significant other, children, or family members who depend on your income to live.

The 5 main types of people who need life insurance:

  1. The Spouse
  2. The Stay-at-Home Parent
  3. The Small Business Owner
  4. The Borrower of a Co-Signed Loan
  5. The Young and Healthy Planners

people who should get life insurnace

The Spouse

Many people think “I don’t have children yet, so I don’t need life insurance.” Sure, you don’t have children that you take care of, but what about your significant other? If you died tomorrow, would your spouse struggle with all bills now left in their care? Your significant other will be emotionally and physically devastated from your loss; do not leave them financially devastated as well.

The Stay-at-Home Parent

Stay-at-home parents do the job of multiple people combined. If you were to suddenly die, your spouse would quickly be in over their head trying to make up for everything you did at home. Having life insurance can afford the remaining spouse to take time off work to get everything situated and help pay for services the stay-at-home parent provided.

The Small Business Owner

If you died, would the business crumble? A life insurance policy can work to fund a buy-sell agreement. This is a contract among the owners to buy a deceased owner’s share of the business at an agreed upon price in the event of death, disability, or retirement. With this agreement, your partners won’t be scrambling to figure out a way to keep the business afloat and your beneficiaries will still be compensated as well.

The Borrower of a Co-Signed Loan

Do you have any debt? Did you co-sign a loan with anyone? Do you have any shared credit card accounts? If you answered yes to any of these and don’t want to saddle your loved ones with your remaining balance, then life insurance could help you.

Example: If your parents helped you through college by co-signing your student loans, then anything you didn’t pay off goes to them if you died. Benefits from a life insurance policy would go toward your debt, paying it off so your mom doesn’t have to.

The Young and Healthy Planners

Your age and health play a large role in determining policy premiums. Essentially, the younger you are the cheaper it is so you may consider getting life insurance sooner rather than later.

Example: If you are a newlywed 29-year-old and plan on starting a family soon now may be the perfect time to get life insurance. It would cost less than one dollar a day and it would ensure your spouse and future children are protected.

According to a study by LIMRA, 85 percent of those surveyed say most people should have life insurance, yet only 62 percent do. Of those 85 percent, 86 percent haven’t bought life insurance because they think it is too expensive. This is where term insurance comes in. A 40-year-old non-smoking female can get a $500,000 life insurance policy for 20 years of coverage at only $26 a month. If something were to happen unexpectedly, her family would be protected.

How Much and for How Long?

The rule of thumb is that you should have enough life insurance to cover 10 times your annual income, but this is an estimate and is not right for everyone.

Example: A single, childless man with an annual income of $75,000 does not need the same amount of coverage as a married father of three with the same income.

If you have loved ones who depend on your income you will want to get enough coverage to allow them to live their lives as planned despite your absence, you also want enough to cover your final expenses (funeral/burial), and cover your debt.

Determining the term length can seem like guesswork, but it’s easy to narrow down. If you are getting term insurance to make sure your loved ones are protected from your debt then you only need to get enough to cover it as you pay it off.

Example: If you have a mortgage but believe it will be paid off in 10 years then a 20-year term policy would be unnecessary.

Example: If you are getting term insurance to ensure your four-year-old child can go to college, set the term length for 20 years so their education would still be covered if something happened to you.

Life insurance is essential for most people. No one ever anticipates needing to use life insurance, but the unexpected does happen. Besides, it’s probably cheaper than you think and there are great places to get free online term life insurance quotes that are quick and easy. This is one thing that you may wish you didn’t put off until tomorrow.

Get a FREE life insurance quote

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