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May 2, 2013

Getting Down with Pet Care: The Top 10 Pet Care FAQ

  • Getting Down with Pet Care: The Top 10 Pet Care FAQ

They’re furry, they’re adorable and they love you just as much as you love them. They’re your pets, and here at LiveBetterCheaper, we know that there are a lot of you out there who may be pet owners. That’s why in our quest to help you to, well, live better cheaper, we’re spending today focusing on the joys (or tribulations) of pet ownership and how you can provide the best care on a budget.

Pets are like companions (without the time and space adventures), and like anyone who gets to put the title “parent” in their name, you want to be able to provide for them th best pet care possible, but in this day and age – and with the economy the way it is – pets can seem like a luxury. However, taking care of one doesn’t have to involve breaking the bank and only buying the fanciest toys and services.

So how can you do so? Consider these 10 steps:

Make Sure You Can Keep A Pet: Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first. If you’re someone that’s living paycheck to paycheck, then maybe it’s not such a good idea to get one. Because let’s face it, one of the worst feelings is not being able to provide.
The other part of this – and this mostly applies to those who rent – is clear it with the landlord. Make sure keeping a pet is something you can do without violating any terms (hey, their land, their rules), and if it is, how much more will it cost you to do so. Which again, if it’s too pricey, you might have to skip it.
But if you can get a pet, then you can always…

Adopt: Generally speaking, adopting from a shelter is a cheaper option than to buy from a breeder*. It’s a win/win situation: an animal gets a new home and you save a life.
*DISCLAIMER*if you decide to adopt, be sure to get one from a shelter that offers a guarantee. While many animals provide a wealth of potential, some may have serious medical problems. A guarantee allows you to bring it back, and while this can be a very difficult thing to do, it all comes down to being able to afford it, and as we all know, vets aren’t cheap.

Shop Within Your Means: Much like you do in your life, find what how to live within your means. This means figuring out what’s a necessity and what’s a luxury. Food is necessary. Housing? Maybe not so much. Clothing? They’re already covered in fur. Definitely not a necessity.

Find a Vet: Ah, medical expenses. There is no way around this. People will spend on average about $356 a year on dogs and $190 on cats. Of course, you don’t want to skimp on healthcare. Ask your local humane society about trying to find a place that will give you quality care, but also won’t charge a lot. Keep in mind, the larger the animal, the more expensive it will be.
Also, if you know someone, that could work.

Easy On The Toys: On average, owners will spend around $107 a year on toys and treats for dogs, and $66 for cats. While getting a few is okay, don’t go overboard. There are plenty of ways to create your own toys for them. Maybe the dog can carry or chase a stick around the yard, find a sturdy piece of rope or some old cloth for them to tug on, and have you see what happens when you mix cats and laser pointers?
Of course, there is the option of…

Thrift Shop-it: Is it wise for you to pop some tags? Maybe so if you’ve only got $20 in your pocket (sorry, had to go there). The message still remains. You don’t have to buy all of your toys new. Check out thrift shops or hit up Craigslist. Also mentioned above, make your own.

Grooming: Yes, there are grooming services out there, and yes you can always choose which one will give you the most bang for your buck, but this is also something you can teach yourself how to do. Buy the supplies yourself, Google instructions or check out tutorials on YouTube (what an age we live in!).

Food: This is where it gets a little bit tricky. As we all know, the best way to cut medical expenses is the take care of yourself, which is something that translates to how you should take care of your pets. Discount foods are as cheap as they are for a reason: because they usually lack the essential nutrients needed. Find something that is of a good quality, but don’t go crazy on how much you feed them. Also like how you would treat yourself, be portion-conscious.

Insurance: Why do we buy insurance? So we can protect ourselves if something goes wrong. So if your pet has a history of health problems, insurance might be a wise investment.

Make Your Own Treats: You don’t always have to go out and buy boxes of treats for your animals. As places like Three Dog Bakery have taught us, you can make your own high quality products for cheap. Just find a few ingredients and a working oven. It’ll be like baking cookies, but for your furry companions.

Do you have any tips you want to share? Feel free to leave a comment below and keep the conversation going.

*SOURCES:

Opperman, Melinda. “5 Tips to Make Pet Ownership More Affordable.” Credit.org http://credit.org/blog/5-tips-to-making-pet-ownership-more-affordable/ July 19, 2011

Chatzky, Jean. “The Dog Ate Your Wallet? How to Cut the Costs of Pet Ownership.” DailyFinance. http://www.dailyfinance.com/2012/09/24/the-dog-ate-your-wallet-how-to-cut-the-costs-of-pet-ownership/ September 24, 2012

January 3, 2013

Cut Cell Phone Costs – 5 Simple Tips

  • Cut Cell Phone Costs – 5 Simple Tips

You’re unlikely to find anyone in today’s world without a smartphone. These handy devices practically run our lives. But, they can be pretty costly. There are still ways to save money on your cell phone costs without giving up the perks that you love. It’s unrealistic to think of downgrading to a simpler phone or tossing out data plans. Instead, check out these tips on how to save money on cell phone costs.

Don’t Buy Insurance

cell phone costs insurance

I’m notorious for losing everything and have several phones I’ve simply never found. If you’re prone to losing, breaking, or ruining items, insurance may seem like a great deal. The problem is, while it may be a few dollars to ten dollars extra month, by the time you’re ready to upgrade you’ve practically paid for a new phone. If you do lose your phone, it’s very difficult to have it replaced. Cut cell phone costs by opting out of insurance. Check out this great article on why cell phone insurance is little more than a scam for your money.

Switch Providers and Cut Cell Phone Costs

cut cell phone costs switch providers

If you spend all of your time talking to one person, or a select group, maybe it’s time to switch your plan. If you have Verizon and you’re spending 300 minutes monthly talking to your sister who has AT&T, switch to her provider. Most cell phone providers offer unlimited calls to people on their service. You’ll be able to reduce the minutes on your plan this way.

Analyze Your Bill

cell phone costs plans

I thought I needed unlimited data, but when I analyzed my bill, I realized how little I truly use. If you constantly notice that you’re not using what you’re paying for, cut back and downgrade your plan. Don’t pay for 600 minutes a month if there is a cheaper plan and you consistently use under 200. Save on cell phone costs by understanding what you really need to pay for.

Find Free Apps

cell phone costs free apps

Don’t pay for apps you can get for free. I’ve never spent a penny on a cell phone app, and I don’t feel left out of anything. My phone now allows me to create ringtones for free, but before that, I used Myxer. You can find pretty much any paid cell phone extra for free if you take the time to search.

Buy Phones Online

cell phone costs online

If you do need a temporary phone or just want a new one, don’t do to your phone provider. Search ebay or amazon for tons of unlocked phones and great deals. I severely damaged my phone a few months into my new contract, but I found an even better option on Ebay for $40. Also, buy accessories on Amazon instead of in store.

How do you cut cell phone costs each month? Share your own stories below and let us know what you think of these tips.

July 6, 2012

A case for prepaid iPhones

  • A case for prepaid iPhones

There was once a time when the iPhone was limited to businessmen and those who won the lottery.  Nowadays, it seems like everyone has one, from corporate executives to small business owners.  From college freshmen to even that 8-year-old down the street who might only know it as ‘that Angry Birds device.’

Despite that many might have one, there are still many without one, mostly for one issue:

Its price tag.

The average iPhone plan can cost anywhere from $59.99-190 a month depending on who your carrier is.  Factor in the cost of the actual phone, activation fees and (of course) going data fees, and you’re looking at something around the neighborhood of $2000+ over two years!  Wish there was a cheaper alternative?  Believe it or not, there might actually be a way.

Virgin Mobile recently launched its prepaid iPhone service, joining Cricket as the only other company carrying a prepaid option for Apple’s popular mobile device.  The downside?  You would have to shell out up to $649 for the phone before choosing how much you want to spend on your service.

So is it worth it to jump on the bandwagon in the name of contract-free service?  Here are a few points to consider, and no, there’s no need to consult Siri about this one:

  1. No contract necessary.  No need to sign up for a long-term deal with any of the Big Three iPhone carriers.  Should you find a more suitable plan later on, no worries.  Feel free to switch anytime.
  2. Pay what you can.  These days, it seems like people text more than they ever talk on the phone.  In short, why pay for something you’re not going to use?  Doing it this way gives you the option of paying for the phone part or just skipping that part altogether.  Should you feel like you will start using it again, you can always add it back on.  Of course, if you’re just going to use it for apps and texting, consider just buying an iPod Touch and a separate phone (more on this later).
  3. The cost!  After all, this is a blog called LiveBetterCheaper.  For a better look of how much a prepaid option could save you in the long run, check out this chart:

chart

So is it worth it to go the prepaid route?  That all depends on how much you really are on your phone throughout the course of the day.  Bottom line, only you can make that call (no pun intended).

May 31, 2012

Handwritten Letters: Out. E-Cards: In.

The prices of greeting cards are rising and while our nations pockets are shrinking, Americans are looking for anyway to cut back on expenses. Everything from cutting down on going out to eat all the way down to buying generic cat food, people from all over are scouring ways to save more.

Remember the good ole days when people actually sent a letter instead of a text message? How about the times when our friends actually sent Birthday cards instead of the anticipated Happy Birthday Facebook wall posts? Times are a changin’ and so is the way we communicate. The greeting cards industry is still alive and kicking because their targeted market is gleefully spending. But everybody past the baby boomers have probably never set foot inside of a Hallmark for a significant amount of time. So is this new generation even communicating? Yes, of course, via social media and the Internet. It makes sense, why set back $4.99 when you can e-mail your old high school buddy an Ecard instead? It’s free, takes about fifteen seconds and has a greater selection than you can find in stores. So who really wants to take about an hour of your precious time, drive (spend gas), go inside your local market and pick out a card, drive back home, write a personal inside joke, stamp it, and then mail it? I know I don’t. That’s why sending E-cards is becoming more and more popular. Sure it’s not as personal as a handwritten letter, but I think everyone might get over that with knowing how much money you just saved.

Try out some of the hottest sites where you can receive and send E-cards for free. Here are a few of my favorites…

Jenny Adkins

May 31, 2012

Facebook / Twitter Giveaways

Social Media is quickly climbing the top to be one of the most powerful tools of all time. Think about it, how many times have you checked your Facebook…just today? Twitter? E-mail? Everything from dating websites to online classes, more and more people from around the world are jumping on board to do stuff via the Internet. Thousands of companies are also noticing this too and are quickly expanding themselves to social media as well. Free stuff is a great way to gain exposure fast, and these companies are doing just that!

Twitter

More and more restaurants, bars, department store and more are hiring people just to handle the companies Twitter accounts. To get people to come in and notice their company, a lot offer coupons and free stuff. Bars announce drink specials, fast food offers meal deal specials and even independent clothing stores are participating in giveaways just to get more traffic into the building and/or websites.

Don’t have a Twitter account? It’s easy and FREE to sign up. You don’t have to write stuff in order to have an account. If all your looking for is to take advantage of various stores deals, then just have a ghost account and FOLLOW your favorite companies. You’ll soon have a homepage of constant streaming deals and coupons that come directly to you.

Facebook

Is Facebook more your thing? It’s as easy as “liking” a company’s FB page a to start getting notifications about special sales and giveaways. Take for example, the mega superstar of a department store, Macy’s. As soon as you click on the “like” button you soon have access to their Facebook website. No adding as a friend necessary. Scroll down on the main page to view special events that are in store and unique brands that are a showcasing. Want free food? Frozen yogurt is such a popular and healthy treat, find your favorite frozen yogurt place on Facebook and I guarantee they’ll have some sort of promotion where you can score free froyo.

Go on, sign up (which is free) and start digging through the never ending online social media pages of deals and steals.

Jenny B. Adkins