Have you heard of Hoopla?

From the website:

Bringing you hundreds of thousands of movies, full music albums, audiobooks and more, hoopla is a revolutionary digital service made possible by your local library. From Hollywood blockbusters to best selling artists and authors – not just the hits, but the niche and hard-to-find as well – you’ll soon discover that hoopla provides you the freedom you’ve been searching for to experience, explore and enjoy what you want, when you want, and where you want. Simple to access and use, without the hassle of having to return the items you’ve borrowed, all you need is your library card, a web browser, smart phone or tablet to get started.

Our library just started offering access a year ago and at first I wasn’t using it because there didn’t seem to be much content. I happened to log in a few days ago and was amazed by how much it has improved. In fact, I was able to find somewhat rare albums in the music section – stuff the library itself doesn’t carry.

One thing I really like about Hoopla is that you can temporarily download a borrowed album to your device so you’re not using any data while listening. The only downside is your library sets a limit on how many items you can borrow each calendar month. In my case it’s ten. Given those limits, I wouldn’t necessarily advise using it to stream an entire season of a television show since you wouldn’t be able to binge watch it.

My biggest problem, which is a good one, is that there’s so much stuff I’d like to borrow that I had to create a favorites list which already has around thirty items on it.

OverDrive is a similar service although its main focus is on books. I like that you can download titles in e-reader format if you happen to dislike reading on a tablet (like I do). The downside to OverDrive is that your library only has a set number of licenses per digital copy so the title you want may not be available. Due to this I don’t use OverDrive as much; I end up going to the library and taking out a physical copy of the book inside. I haven’t come across this license issue using Hoopla; everything listed on the service is available right away.

In any case, I highly recommend both these services as an alternative to going to the library if that’s not your thing (or you’re just too busy).


I’m not sure about you guys, but this month just flew by for me. The beginning of September marks 6 months I’ve been out of work. I’ve been able to get a few side gigs for a few bucks here and there to help supplement my unemployment compensation. Mostly in the form of surveys and market research studies. I’ve been getting more aggressive with my job hunt lately as well as making changes to my resume in order to try and help bring in more interest.


I’m kind of ready for autumn, my favorite time of the year. The cooler weather, the fall colors, football, and hockey too! It also means we’ll be able to keep the windows open more frequently saving some money not running the AC or heat.

Here’s a recap of postings we had for August:

Garage Sale – Recap

It’s Not A Treat If You Have It Every Day

Social Security Numbers

College Costs

Joe’s Top Movies


A little something different for the start of the weekend. I’m a huge movie guy, all sorts of movie genres. I often joke that I could hold conversations just using movie quotes (I think the same applies to song lyrics too). I think it goes back to my childhood. I grew up in a typical lower-middle class home where we rarely ate out. Probably because of not wanting to spend the money more than anything. I did, however, go to the movies. My dad and aunt managed to take me when I was little and through my pre-teen years. As I got older movies were a regular form of entertainment through my teenage years. I have fond memories of those times, so it makes sense to me I have such a tie to movies. It’s not just about the movie, but the memories of that time in my life.

Here’s my list of a few of my favorite movies. While I still have several (dozen) more favorites, these I could say (today) are some of my faves.

The Goonies (1985)

“Goonies never say die!”, love that line! Maybe it’s because I grew up in the 80’s, or maybe this movie just appeals to the kid in me. I’ll date myself a bit, but I actually saw this when it came out in the movie theater. This is a great movie with adventure, romance, comedy, drama, and awesome bad guys. It also has good character building, a solid cast of unknowns at the time, and a semi-believable premise. This movie has it all. I can watch this one over and over, and I do when I see it come on TV.

Almost Famous (2000)

I have a handful of movies which are the pinnacle of all movies for me and Almost Famous is one of them. This coming of age movie follows a high school boy posing as an adult in order to start writing for Rolling Stone. He follows Stillwater in order to write an article about the up and coming band. Semi-autobiographical, its based on director Cameron Crowe’s early days as a writer for Rolling Stone. The cast is what makes this move for me: newcomer Patrick Fugit playing the would-be Rolling Stone reporter, Billy Crudup and Jason Lee as musicians in the band Stillwater, Frances McDormand as Fugit’s overprotective mom, Zooey Deschanel as his rebellious sister, Kate Hudson as a groupie who is a love interest for both Crudup’s and Fugit’s characters, and just a touch of Philip Seymour Hoffman playing a sort of mentor to Fugit. It’s funny, heartbreaking, smart, and honest. I can’t say enough about Almost Famous. If you haven’t seen it yet, go now. Get it, stream it, I’ll wait. Go. : )

Rockstar (2001)

While on the music theme, let’s toss one more in there – Rockstar – inspired by the story of Judas Priest and the departure of Rob Halford and his replacement Tim “Ripper” Owens who was singing in a Judas Priest cover band. I don’t know if situations like in the movie really happen when bands tour, but wow. The movie walks us through this unknown cover band singer played by Mark Wahlberg who is flung into a lead singer job for Steel Dragon. In the end, this is a love story; love of a girl and music. The final scene is great!

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

This is one of those movies (all of these movies are actually) where if I’m flipping channels and I come across it, I need to watch the rest of it regardless of what point in the movie it is. The movie follows Tim Robbin’s character through life in prison where finding redemption and peace isn’t always the easiest. Andy befriends Morgan Freeman’s character, Red, and through the years they bond, becoming the best of friends.

Snatch (2000)

Snatch is one of those movies where you need to pay careful attention. The dialog and delivery by the actors makes this movie one of my favorites. I really like Brad Pitt’s character in particular. Pitt plays a gypsy whose conversations you’ll barely understand. You may have to replay his scenes a few times or turn on subtitles. Yep, subtitles are an option so you can understand him. The movie has some really memorable scenes. All the characters are brought together in order to locate a priceless (stolen) diamond. All of whom are obviously in it for themselves. In the end it feels more like a movie about revenge.


I was reading this article on employers helping to repay student load debt over at Y! yesterday. Pretty cool that companies are starting to realize student debt is a huge burden which is an issue that is only growing.


While I think this is a huge help to those college students entering the workforce, to me it’s just a kind of band-aid on a bigger issue – the expense of going to college. My youngest started at the local community college just this week. He’s taking a full class load and tuition for the semester was just over $2.6k. A deal actually as far as college tuition goes. In contrast, the four year school he is eyeing to go to after his two year stint at the community college is just under $15k a semester. Maybe I’m out of the loop on college costs, but $15k a semester?!? Now I understand this is an exceptional school for his career focus, but wow, $60k for two years of schooling!

The more I thought about it, aren’t we as a society, hurting ourselves? Forget for a minute the student and his or her mounting debt that will follow them to their grave. If the cost of education it putting off potential students, who is that really hurting? For example, with the Affordable Healthcare Act and a larger portion of the population aging, we will have a need for more doctors. We’re already seeing the affects in the South with a shortage of doctors. So while schools continue to be increasingly expensive to attend, our country as a whole will suffer because of a lack of interested students.

I mean, who can blame students these days? The average student load debt is about $30k. And that’s just for a four year university/state school. The debt increases if it’s a private college. I don’t feel a little debt is necessarily a bad thing – there are other lessons to be learned with having the accountability of a student loan – but when you read about doctors having $100k+ in load debt, something is seriously flawed with the system. Who’s at fault? I don’t know, but I’m willing to bet the schools hold a good portion of the blame. Some hiding behind a thin veil called “non-profit”, bah.



A little venting here about Social Security Numbers (SSN). Your SSN should be coveted and protected – seriously, it should be. In this day and age of identity theft and the importance of having good credit, you and I need to be unwavering in the attention we give in protecting it.

As I work through my job search it really amazes me the number of companies (I’m looking at you Ulta) who not only require your SSN for the online application process, but actually tell you that it won’t be used unless an offer is extended to you. Well then, why not ask me at that point? I wonder if these companies realize that all this does is turn people off from even bothering to apply. They’re losing qualified applicants because those that are in demand can easily apply at a company who doesn’t treat your SSN as if it were no big deal.

I have no problem giving it at the proper time, but to give you my SSN on the mere chance I’ll get an interview, let alone an offer? Please, no recruitment process couldn’t be changed so that your SSN isn’t obtained until the employer needs to run a background check, which they won’t do with 95% of their applicants. So now they have all these people’s SSNs, which can be stolen, just sitting in a database and god only knows how secure those are.

Just as bad are doctors offices which ask for your SSN when you first fill out the new patient paperwork. I’ve even seen a nurse or receptionist write it down on a piece of scratch paper. Scratch paper?!? You don’t know where that piece of paper will end up. And guess what? The majority of the time they don’t need it, so don’t give it to them. I never do. These days even medical insurance companies have moved away from using them as primary identification.

The only institutions who need your SSN is the government, banks/financial institutions, and employers (read: not prospective employers). It’s time we all should take a stand and make sure businesses understand how important your SSN really is.



There is much debate about whether the latte factor can really make or break you when it comes to finances. For the record, I think it can result in “death by a thousand cuts” (a phrase I just saw someone use in the comments on another blog), but what I really want to focus on is how in addition to it affecting your bottom line, it’s wasteful and detracts from your overall enjoyment.

Something isn’t a treat if you’re enjoying it on a regular basis. Is anyone really savoring their morning Starbucks (or Dunkin Donuts) if they get it every single day? Doubtful. It’s just routine at that point. So in addition to blowing $4 a day, you’re not even getting all that much enjoyment out of it. If instead you got your iced coffee once a week (or less), you’d be saving money AND you’d really enjoy the experience. You just have to be willing to try it.


I wrote a post a little before our garage sale and figured it would be good to recap everything and our overall thoughts about the sale.

Before The Sale

A couple weeks before the sale, we systematically went through the house from top to bottom, through all drawers, closets and boxes to locate anything we thought we didn’t use or want anymore. Even though we thought we found everything, it seemed like there was always something else to add to the sale. It’s amazing the amount of stuff you accumulate over the years.

We did the same in the garage. Went through all the totes, boxes, and cabinets. By this point I had to start leaving one of the cars in the driveway so I had a place to collect all the garage sale items. We also tossed out the idea to close family asking if they wanted anything sold that we could put it out for them. More on this to come.

Once we had everything together, it was time to price the items. We found these cool little labels pre-printed with prices at the dollar store which really came in handy. They also included some blank ones so you could write in your own price. I also prepped the main “Garage Sale” signs we picked up at the dollar store with our address and dates/times of the sale.

We didn’t have enough tables so we were lucky enough to borrow a couple from a friend. It made set up much easier as we could set them up in the garage prior to the sale.

Our village requires a garage sale permit. So after going down to the village clerk and forking over $10, we were good to go. There are a few rules in our village: signs need to come down after the last day of the sale, hours are only between 9am-6pm, limited to 4 sales a year, and signs must display address, times, and dates of the sale. There are fines here for not following the rules. Check your local village/city for requirements.

Our sale ran just a Friday and Saturday. On Wednesday I started posting the sale on Craigslist and then each day from then through Saturday. I also posted it on Nextdoor. If you’re not familiar with Nextdoor, it’s kind of a social network for your neighborhood. Check it out and see if your neighborhood has a following.

Read More →



I’m not a big fan of most of the survey places you find online these days. They’re too much work for what amounts to little payoff, but I do like being rewarded for providing my input and doing some everyday things. I’m still a fan of Swagbucks even though I’ve been slacking lately on their surveys and videos you complete/watch for credit. And when it comes to physically going to the store and being rewarded, Shopkick is another great way to be rewarded.

I joined Harris back in the beginning of April of this year. So far I’ve accumulated about 4400 points. This is more than enough for a $25 gift card, and about 1000 points towards the additional 3000 points I need for a $50 card. I know, it’s not earth shattering money. But for what amounts to about 10 or 15 minutes every other day or so, it all adds up. We use this as “blow” money so to speak by redeeming the points for restaurant gift cards. We don’t actually incur this expense of eating out, so it’s like a nice bonus since we’ve pulled back on our unnecessary spending with me being out of work.

I’m pretty confident I could have been at the $50 gift card in three months. To me this is a nice deal. We can typically eat out at one of the places offered twice with a $50 card further taking advantage of the “freebie”. Additionally, when we combine this gift card with the others we receive from our Discover rewards and Swagbucks, we’re pretty much able to eat out a couple times a month without having to actually use money needed for other things.


And if you don’t want to spend Harris points (they call them HI points) on restaurant gift cards, there are plenty of other items they offer as rewards. Check out the list!