Our cutting the cord process is still underway. We started with our landline (post coming soon), and next to get the boot will be our Xfinity Home Security service. Currently, we’re paying $29.99/month but the expense will increase $10 this month. We’ve had the service long enough that we now own the equipment (sans touchscreen and router) so I’m on the hunt for a new hub to control the devices along with giving us app support.

I found the Securifi Almond 3 (which will be released in the next few months) on Amazon. The Almond 3 is a pretty impressive little device. Its predecessors had over 12,000 reviews on Amazon with a 4.5/5 rating. The Almond 3 combines a Long Range WiFi router, range extender, plus home automation hub in one device. What is particularly cool about it is you don’t have to connect it to a computer to set it up; the Almond comes with a touchscreen to make adding home automation devices a snap.


The device does have some drawbacks. First is the monitoring service. I’m sure we could find a way to incorporate a paid service for this, but that’s one of the expenses I feel we can do without since we can monitor via the app and react appropriately. The Almond 3 will come with a siren which would thwart the majority of burglars anyway. Secondly, there is no camera support on the app. Our WiFi camera will work with the router, but we’ll have to utilize another app to view the camera in the case of a tripped sensor.

Sure, we could just do without home security altogether. We do live in a nice area, and since we’re in a town home there is always someone around who would see if something bad were happening to our home. But as with the landline, it will be well worth the investment for the comfort level it will give me. Plus the price of $120.00 will be recouped in three months after cancelling our security service. The Almond is looking to be a good alternative.




We just completed our move from AT&T Wireless to Ting so we can save money!

It was a little confusing since it’s been 7 years since we had to change wireless carriers, therefore I had to chat with both AT&T and Ting to determine the proper order in which to set things in motion. Now that it’s done, I figured I’d outline it for anyone else thinking of switching carriers.

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Another busy week. Here we are coming into April and opening day for Major League Baseball. Go Sox! And let’s not forget about hockey. The Blackhawks are once again playoff bound!

Laid Off Or Fired? Now What?

The “New” Retirement Number?

Joe’s Latest Addictions

Free Magazine Fridays

I also added a new Recommendations page giving a few apps and websites worth a try. We don’t endorse anything we don’t already use AND most importantly like!

14-0809_2016 Opening Day



Admittedly, I am a bit worried about not utilizing my Excel skills each day. My old job pretty much required me to know a good deal of Excel. Excel was probably the one program aside from Outlook which I couldn’t live without.

Nowadays, it truly amazes me when I would run into co-workers who didn’t know how to use Excel for what it is, an easy way to collect and calculate data. You know that person, the one who sends you a spreadsheet that is busy as hell with colors, different size fonts, and worse yet – hard coded totals. WTH? Did the person actually break out a calculator (and I don’t even want to know if they used the calculator on the computer or an actual calculator). Ugh, you get what I mean.

So, I figured I would start putting out some quick how-to’s with Excel formulas. It gives me some Excel practice and can also inform others if they weren’t already aware of some Excel formulas. Now, I am starting with some of the basics. As time goes on I’ll expand and get into the more complicated formulas. But for the first few Excel posts, we’ll keep it pretty straight forward.

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I ordered the new iPhone 6 (which will arrive on my doorstep on Friday) and I don’t feel the least guilty about it even though I feel like I should. I’ve noticed a growing trend on finance-related blogs where the writer has switched to a lower-cost cell phone provider to save money. While I think that’s great, particularly if you’re barely making ends meet and/or are unable to save for retirement, I don’t get the impression that’s always the case. It’s almost more of a game to see how much one can cut their budget. And that’s admirable, for sure, but it’s just not for me because I love my iPhone way too much. I guess you could say for me it’s a priority, and if it’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you cut back on the things that don’t matter so you can spend on those that do, like my iPhone.

Of course, I would love if my cell phone bill decreased. As it stands now I’m on a grandfathered plan that limits my text messages, but to change to a new plan I’d not only lose my unlimited data (although honestly, I rarely exceed 2GB of data in a given month), but more importantly my bill would increase. I’m trying to keep my costs to a minimum while still enjoying my iPhone. I would seriously consider switching to one of the lower cost providers at some point if some of my concerns were addressed, namely:

Phone Availability
I really really don’t want to switch to a Motorola smartphone, or any Android phone for that matter. I don’t care for the platform. Although if I was forced to make the switch, I think a Samsung Galaxy S would make it bearable for me.

Reliable Signal
I just don’t believe for half the cost of my normal provider I’m going to get just as good signal coverage, particularly because many of the discount providers use the Sprint network and in my area, at least (Chicago burbs), I’ve heard horror stories regarding dropped calls, slow speeds, and whatnot.

That being said, I will be keeping tabs on these other providers and would be willing to switch when my contract is up in two years. A lot can happen in that amount of time. In the meantime, I’ll be looking to sell my iPhone 4S to recoup some of the costs of the new phone.

What things are you willing to splurge on?


Do you have trouble remembering to do everything that needs to get done? I’d say we all do. It’s why many of us keep lists of some sort, whether it be at work or home. Personally, I love writing out lists and checking things off when they are complete, but they aren’t very helpful if I don’t keep the list on me at all times and I’m not constantly re-checking the list. This is where technology comes in so you rarely forget something again.


Next week I’ll touch upon keeping track of things at work, but this week I wanted to focus on personal things. Most of us now own smartphones, and one of my most-used apps, after Facebook (I love this time-suck way too much), is called Alarmed. This free app has tons of scheduled items in it so I never forgot to do something. I have recurring reminders to take my vitamins, and one-time reminders as well. I find the app so useful that I purchased the $1.99 add-on to allow me to set the app to nag me if I don’t mark a particular item as complete.

Anytime I think of something I need to do that I can’t do immediately, I open the app and set up a reminder. When I forgot to put garland on my Christmas tree this past December, I immediately scheduled a reminder in the app for next year around Christmas time to remind me to do that because I’m just that anal retentive on top of things. When I get things in the mail, like reminders to take our vehicles in for an emission test, I check my calender to see what day is most likely going to be good for that, and I set a reminder.

Some people may prefer to use their phone’s calendar app for tasks but I don’t really care to use my calendar for that purpose. I like to keep it free for events to make it less cluttered. It also makes it easier to glance quickly at a date to see what I have going on.

If you don’t mind forking over $4.99, Todo by Appigo is a great reminder app too and is more robust than Alarmed, although last I checked it didn’t have the nag option that I’ve come to love and depend on. It does, however, have the ability to tie checklists to reminders to really add to the experience. I have the app installed, so I will use it for those things, and I even use it to keep general checklists that have no reminder. For instance, when I was looking for a job I had a checklist of things I wanted to find out before accepting an offer. I also keep a general packing list for when we go on vacation – actually I have two lists: one for things to pack and one for things to do before locking the house and leaving.

I don’t think I would remember even half of what I have to do if it wasn’t for these apps. What do you use to remember stuff?


Update Scanner

I’ve written before on how to keep on top of updates to your favorite websites utilizing a feed reader such as Feedly, but what if there’s a website that you want to keep tabs on that doesn’t offer an RSS feed? That’s where the Firefox add-on, Update Scanner, comes in handy.

With this simple little add-on you can control how often each site will be scanned and which level of changes you want to be notified about (i.e. if just a few characters are changed you can set the add-on to ignore those).

What kind of sites are best to use with this add-on? Well, for me, I like to keep tabs on job openings at specific companies or government locations where I may be interested in working. I also like to check out the newest potential pets at the local Animal Control. Basically any site that infrequently updates their content but doesn’t offer an RSS feed is perfect to track.

If you try out Update Scanner, or already use it, share what you like to keep tabs on in the comments.



Do you have more than one e-mail account? I bet you do. I don’t even want to tell you how many I have because I realize it’s too many, but I use them for different purposes. In any case, there used to be a service where I could add all my email addresses and it would send me a single daily digest of all activity. Unfortunately that service moved away from tracking email and to dealing more with social media (and for the life of me right now I cannot recall the name of it).

Now I use a browser extension in Firefox called X-notifier. What I love about this service is that you enter in all your email addresses, along with your username and password, and set the interval of when you want the extension to check your email (which can be different for each account). An icon appears in your browser when new emails are available, and by clicking on it, the service automatically logs you in. So not only do you keep on top of your new emails, but you don’t have to constantly log into your accounts manually. It’s great and it makes having multiple email accounts so much easier because I never have to log into an account just to see if something new has arrived.