On STUFF and Costco’s Return Policy

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Picture of how the dining room looked like before we bought the house… Our Costco set was even bigger!

Stuff expands to fill available space. You live in an apartment and yearn for a bigger place. You get a house but after a couple of years it feels cramped. You upgrade to a bigger house and find that while certainly more spacious than the apartment or the starter home, somehow every room is filled to capacity again. Our family is a good example of this paradox. Continue Reading

Becoming Cable Provider Independent

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One of my hobbies is optimizing every budget item to provide most benefit at smallest cost. The emphasis here is on value and not on cheapness, although somehow I still get an occasional “cheapskate” remark. Of course it bothers me a bit because, in my opinion, this is the only reasonable way to live. Efficiency is something worth pursuing. I’ve heard the cheapskate comment from family, friends and my wife although it’s always in a joking manner. As in “oh, he’s not gonna wanna do that because it’s expensive” – which sometimes is true but only if a quick calculation in my head tells me that there’s a better value for my money. This calculator never sleeps 🙂 Continue Reading

One Man’s Quest for Affordable Internet and Cheap Entertainment

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Almost a decade ago we received a TiVo recorder as a gift and quickly discovered the joy of watching a few shows that we like without irritating commercials. Like so many other well-intentioned gifts, this one came with a side order of hidden expenses – in this case a deadly sin known as The Recurring Monthly Cost. Our eyes were opened to the benefits of the DVR world but our wallet didn’t like another budget drain so TiVo had to go. *Note: there is a TL;DR version at the end of this post. Continue Reading

Changing Times

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There are things in our life that can tell a lot about us at any given moment in time. Cars are a good example. My first car was a high mileage used Toyota Paseo bought for $3,800 dollars. I was a broke college graduate who just started his first professional job in the city making barely enough to rent his first very own apartment with money left over to pay for food, gas, utilities, insurance, entertainment and student loans. Paseo was a good fit for where I was financially at the time and most importantly provided a reliable transportation to visit my then girlfriend (and now wife) who was still in college about 2 hours away.

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Downsizing Matters

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A little over a year ago something changed.  Looking around our big house filled with stuff I felt the need to shed some of the excess.  A beautiful German sports sedan I drove lost its allure and became a liability.  Waking up every weekday to go to work, while never exciting, now seemed like a dead end from which I needed to escape.  My wife was pregnant with our first child and a sense of urgency that did not exist before was introduced into our lives.

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An Unexpected Benefit of Cancelling Cable

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We recently cancelled our cable TV subscription after years of paying Comcast for the “Limited Basic” service. That package gave us mostly the local channels plus a few other ones that we never watched anyway.  My wife and I are not that big into watching TV but we do enjoy a couple of shows that happen to be on the 4 broadcast networks (ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX).   Continue Reading

A Diaper Genie Story and an Honest Review

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It seems that there is a time period in your life where baby showers happen at least once a month. A few years back our friend was having one so my wife went to the store and picked up something from the registry – a Diaper Genie along with a couple of refills.  Not the most thoughtful gift (“here is a poop box for your unborn child and some plastic bags”), but we assumed it was something required when a baby is born and obviously desired since it was on their list.

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