Archive for the “Economics” Category

Tips and advice for buying, selling, and maintaining.

frugalI’m sure you all have heard how expensive smoking is right?  Well a trip out to dinner is the equivalent to a pack of cigarettes so these numbers are equally equatable.   The average American will grab fast food 2.3 times a week (Science Daily), which totals 120 trips a year.  Lets say you each trip is $6; that totals about 720/y just on fast food, do you go more than 2 times a week?  Well than your total will be above $1000/y.

I know you still need to eat; well cooking is a very cost saving skill, the average “cooker” will spend $4-$7 per day on food (NYTimes).  It will also take extra time out of your day, which means there is less time for you to be bored!  The benefits don’t stop there; you will lose weight and it can be a very attractive trade skill.

Some “Frugal Foods”

  • Ramen Soup (May not be the healthiest, but man is it cheap and delicious)
  • Rice (You’d be amazed with how cheap rice is!)
  • Water(Not bottled, spending $2+ a day on soda is not only expensive but very unhealthy.)
  • Beans (Chili can be an appetizing and cheap meal to make, throw in cut up hot dogs for “meat”.)
  • Oatmeal (Definitely not my favorite but besides from growing your own food this is one of the cheapest options)

Saving $700-$1000 over  a year time may not seem like much; but a 5 day cruise is under $500, so saving money isn’t your game; think about it as getting an all-expense paid vacation.

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Saving, is one of the few things in life that people don’t take an interest in until it is too late.  Before this recession the average saving rate was 16% (Business Week), however it is hard to save during a recession and is down between 4-5% now (Money Rate).  Which doesn’t really make sense, in times of economic trouble people are preparing less for unemployment!?  If anything you should cut costs and save more if you are uncertain if you will have a job next month.

The main reason why I didn’t start a savings when I was a kid was that I didn’t think I made enough for a savings to really have any effect on my life.  Looking back, saving 10% of the 15,000 per year, I could have saved $5,000 over 5 years, or $16,000 over 10 years (factoring in a 5% interest rate).  Interest scales with the money; you literally get paid money for just having money, and the more you have the more you get.  It’s a weird but very cool fact if you are on the “savings” side of the fence.

Ok so lets jump on the other side of savings, your taking out a massive loan; your 30-year mortgage (house).  The mortgage is 300K and the current Interest rate is around 5% (HSH); by the time you pay off this house you will have paid around 600K, the price of two houses.  Why? Well your first few years of owning that house will consist of interest payments above $1000. The first month would be $1,250; meaning that up to that amount you are only paying the bank, not your actual house.  Get in the mindset of if i saved $200 this month than that will equal $1500 when I want to buy a house.  So don’t wait, start your “30 years” today.

An easy tip to avoid those “bad purchases”: Before making a purchase ask yourself if a stranger offered you the same amount of money for the item to NOT purchase it, would you take the cash or buy it anyways.

At the time of publishing, Discover Bank, has the “best savings” account; it yields 2% interest per year, if you don’t have a large sum of money to invest with, this is your best option.  If you don’t have a bank account, try to get one; however if for what ever reason you can’t, saving is still smart.  You will start off with a large sum of money, which means your first “interest paycheck” will be higher than if you didn’t save.  Interest is only really beneficial with “chunks” of cash.

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So, you want to use your Wii to listen to MP3’s, watch your favorite videos, and much more on your Wii? But your much too lazy to actually use your Ninja skills to install any hacks. Well, we’ve got some help!

You’ll need:

  • Computer
  • Wii
  • Windows Vista or XP (I know, no Mac version *sigh*)
  • Internet for Wii & Computer
  • Internet Channel for Wii

How To

  1. Go to: Orb and then download the version of “Orb” you’ll need. Also create an account on Orbs’ website.
  2. Go to Orbs’ configuration and in the “Media” tab, you can drag and drop all the folders of stuff you want, full of stuff you’ll be sharing on your Wii.
  3. After doing this go to your myOrb account at: Orb Account When you log in, you’ll be able to see the media you placed in the Orb application Media section! And yes, you can even use this account and ability to share media with friends and family (and fellow Ninjas!!)
  4. Now hopefully you have the Opera Wii Internet Brower. If not, go download it in the Wii Shop Channel.
  5. After, use the browser to navigate to the same “MyCast Orb” account and you’ll again see the Orb homepage.
  6. Before media streaming, go to the settings, and then “stream” section in the web page and set it to “Flash”.
  7. Now, “Save & Exit.”
  8. Now, enjoy your super awesome collection of videos, MP3’s and more awesome media!!

Source: How to stream media on your Wii

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We all hate bills and loosing money! So here are some simple tips to keeping money in your pocket and keeping your house warm.

1. For each degree you lower your thermostat, it decreases the money you pay on your fuel by approximately 3%! Lowering you thermostat from 72 degrees to 68 degrees may not feel like much comfort wise, but it saves you 12% on you bill.( If you’re using a coil-type thermostat, you’ll get more accurate readings if you clean it. Pop off the thermostat cover and blow or gently swipe away the dust.)

2. Clean the coils that cool your refrigerator. These coils take the heat out of the inside of the fridge, and this layer of dust prevents them from doing that efficiently.

3. If you have a certain room that is always cold and doesn’t keep heat well, use something to cover the possible points where heat could escape. Even stapling a quilt or tarps over the window(s) could help loads.

4. One of the main places that heat escapes is doors. Place a draft stopper at the bottom of your door to reduce any airflow.

5. Don’t use bathroom fans or any type of ventilation. A bathroom fan can suck all of the heat out of an average house in about an hour.

6. Take shorter showers

7. Wash your clothes in cold water whenever possible.

8. Use space heaters in the rooms you spend time in.

9. Try to keep the lights off.

10. Heat escapes when you go outside. There is a very simple solution to this…don’t go outside! Stay inside as long as possible and come visit us here at Tutorial Ninjas! Our tech experts can give you tips on all sorts of things that you may want to know!  Alternatively just make sure you shut the door behind you when you go out.  The screen door is not effective at keeping heat in.

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Welcome to Winter Edition of Tutorial Ninjas! (notice the different theme?) In order to kick off this winter season-which for some is a little late- we are going to share with you some cheap winter solutions to your survival on the road!

Lets first look at winter at a glance. Words that relate to winter are: cold, ice, snow, car crash. Ok, maybe I exaggerated? Here’s a list of some items you can buy, and their competitors. Save some cash in this time of economic struggle! All prices are compared to common hardware store retail prices.

Get a Grip – On Ice
If your car is stuck in an ice patch, sand is the ultimate solution. The goal is to completely surround your cars tires that have lost grip, in sand. Then when you go in reverse (or forward- but most often used for reverse), your tires will get just enough grip to move your car out of its stuck position. A 50lb bag of sand at a hardware shop will cost you around $5 + tax.

If you ran out of sand, another solution is to use (my personal favorite- and what saved me today when stuck in an ice patch)… 20 Mule Team Borax! Borax is actually a multi-purpose cleaner and laundry booster. It has similar properties to sand, however might cost a bit more, while receiving less. A 76oz box of Borax (which converted to lbs is only 4.75 lbs), costs about $4. It might not be a cheap solution to sand, however in a time of need- its a great sand substitute! (You also gotta love the fact that a ‘team of 20 mules’ are going to help you out of an ice patch- after all, I drive a Mustang.)

Hot as Ice – Just Melt It!
If you have some time to spare, and believe me- people will, when they realize they cant get out of their driveway- then melting the ice is another solution. It is most often marketed that consumers buy name-brand (or purpose specific) items. For instance, every retailer you go, will be selling 10 lb bags of “Ice Melt” (which is often Calcium Chloride and Potassium Chloride). They use these chemicals because they reduce the potential damage to cause to your grass. One of these bags (10 lbs) will cost you at least $20. Simple solution: Stop throwing rock salt on your grass!

Whats the cheap solution? Well- you could buy a marketed bag of “Rock Salt” which is also made to melt ice, but that will cost you about $10 for a 40 lb bag.

The best solution? Buy yourself an 80lb bag of (rock) water softener salt for $7. This can be found at most anywhere: Lowes, Home Depot, or Walmart (and many other places). You might not be able to find an 80lb bag, but they also sell 40lb bags of water softener salt (also called Solar Salt) for $4. Melt the ice, and keep it away. This rock water softener salt also provides enhanced traction (because when its crushed it will have similar features of sand).

Non-Monetary Solutions – Its all about technique!
Sometimes, things in life can’t have a price on them. You cant spend any money to stop them, so you have to use technique to prevent them. Winter driving technique- lets recap some of it!

  • Drive Slowly and Cautiously! Instead of driving 5 over (or more), drive the speed limit. Pay attention to the road. Keep at least a single cars distance from the car in front of you. There is no way to control your car on ice. Once you lose control, its hard to regain. That brings us to the next bullet…
  • Taking control of your car when it skids out of control (not effective on ice- lets say… no technique will work on ice) is something all drivers should practice (in an open lot). The tip is, steer your car in the direction of the way you are skidding. In simpler terms, point your front tires where you want to go. Avoid using the break, however if you need to, then apply them gently.
  • Use a low-gear when driving on weathered roads. If there is snow or ice on the road, then put your car into a gear like 2 or 1. They are commonly found on automatic car shifters, listed as D3, D2, and D1. Putting your car in a low gear forces the transmission to hold back the wheels from spinning. Think of it as a more “direct-drive”. You can try this out if your at a stoplight on a hill, put your car into D2 and release the break. The car will not roll back.

So, we have covered quite a few things. Monetary and non-monetary winter road solutions. Now, we would love to hear what you have to say? Do you have any economical, or free winter driving solutions? If you do, we would love for you to share them with us in the comments! Happy Holidays, and wish you all a safe winter, and driving!

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Safe Vacations!Have you ever had to leave your car at the airport for a long period of time? Sometimes if you’re leaving the country, you may have to leave it there for weeks! Here are a few tips on how to protect your car when traveling.

  1. Never leave anything of value in your car. Airport parking lots are like thief magnets. If somebody walks by and sees an iPhone sitting on the seat, they may do a smash and grab where they just smash your window open, take the wanted object, and run. If you must leave something in your car, make sure it’s in the trunk or a locked compartment.
  2. Try to find a good lot to park it in. Some airports will have their own parking lots with security. However if you don’t want to park it there, or if they just don’t have one, you can probably find paid parking structures around the area. When choosing one of these structures, make sure it has good security and keep your eyes out for glass on the ground. A lot of glass could mean that its a target for Smash and Grabs.
  3. Remove your starter fuse. If you look in your car’s manual, it should have a diagram on where your fuse box is and which fuse is for the ignition. If you take that fuse out when leaving your car, it will not start- even if it’s hot wired. (Just don’t loose it!)

Keep safety in mind, and have a safe vacation!

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