Graphic: Ting art

My phone bill was $30 last month with Ting

Are you always around WiFi? Are you sick of paying a high phone bill?

If your answer is “yes,” you should consider using Ting as your wireless service provider. With Ting, you only pay for what you use.

If you

  1. have WiFi at home,
  2. have WiFi at work,
  3. have access to WiFi  most other places you go (your grandma’s, your friends’, the grocery store, in the airport, at a hotel, on and on),

then you can easily be relying on WiFi for your data, messaging, and calls and saving a ton of money.

Ting’s dashboard estimates your usage based on your current month’s usage. On January 17, Ting estimated my bill would be $42, but with a little discipline, I was able to keep it below that.

I was intentional about how I used my phone to try and save myself some money. I called on Wifi (Vonage app), used messaging apps (Whatsapp or Google+ Hangouts) or emails, and limited my web browsing and searching while out and about.  

This is how much it has cost me over the last six months. I have already pocketed over $80 that I would have forked over to my previous provider, Virgin Mobile, where my unlimited plan cost me $56 monthly.

Ting Billing History screen

My $30 phone bill for January brought my average monthly bill down to $39.

I had two high bills in November I was planning a huge party for my grandma, and then in December one of my loved ones spent a week in the hospital. Now that everything is back to normal, my phone bill is lower than it’s ever been before. 

If you decide to Ting will work for you, sign up using my link and we will both get credit!

 

Photo: Stacks of $100 bills banded together. Credit: 401kcalculator.org

File your taxes for free (if you make less than $50Gs)

Don’t be a sucker. You don’t have to be a CPA to do your taxes. You don’t have to go to Jackson Hewitt or H & R Block. Don’t fall prey to the dancing Statues of Liberty and Uncle Sams. You can complete and file your federal and state taxes with no cost in the comfort of your own home (or anywhere you have internet access).

Don’t be a dummy, either. I have seen plenty of folks who got their W2s together to give to someone else to do their taxes for a fee. it is not wise to break off some change to some lady in the hood you know to file your taxes. How do you know she is qualified? What are you going to do if you get audited by the IRS (Hey, it can happen…)? You might as well do it yourself and use an official service, so you can keep 100% of your return and have someone to call/blame when you get in a jam.

Doing your taxes is very simple if you just follow the prompts provided by your tax preparation software of choice. The IRS has kindly put a list together of free filing software providers for you on their website: https://apps.irs.gov/app/freeFile/jsp/index.jsp?ck

The services I have personal experience with and recommend are H & R Block, MyFreeTaxes.com, and TurboTax (federal and state).

Veteran Tip
Always ‘review your taxes’ so you can save a copy as PDF.  In some cases, your state return will not be free. I have gone all the way through the process if the software was going to charge me for the filing just so I could get the PDF and copied it over to a paper return.  It’s important to always keep a copy of your tax return. You need your Adjusted Gross Income or your special pin # from the previous year each time you file. You want a copy of your taxes for a million good reasons.

 

If you try to do your taxes and you still need 1 on 1 assistance, there are community resources available here in town to advise you on or assist you with your taxes.

Graphic: Screenshot of NextStep flyer with tax sites and timesNext Step KC Free Tax Preparation

Next Step KC operates several IRS-sponsored Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) tax preparation sites in the Kansas City area.  VITA offers free tax help to hard-working taxpayers with incomes of $54,000 and below who cannot prepare their own tax returns.

Click the image to the right for their flyer or visit their website for more info: nextstepkc.org/free-tax-preparation

 

You can also search on the IRS website for tax prep help sites at irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/

 

 

 

 

 

Stick with me and I'll put you up on all kinds of game

Related topics coming soon:

  • Making sure you don’t get taxed at tax time: Your W4 form
  • Best pre-paid debit cards
  • Pros and Cons of being unbanked
  • How to cut down on unnecessary costs

Make this your new anthem: $ave Dat Money

 

Rap game got it all wrong
We ain’t ’bout to go and spend money just to flex on them
We ain’t really got it like y’all (Yeah, baby!)
I’m a type of motherfucker that’ll check the check
Do the math, I ain’t never gettin’ robbed

 

F@#! what they’re talking about on TV and in songs. I have learned that resisting temptation is essential to survival as an adult. Before I spend any money, I stop and ask myself, “Do I really need this? Is this going to improve my quality of life? What am I supporting with this money I am about to spend?” The media has us brainwashed into thinking we need to buy unnecessary things.

Don’t perpetuate the bullshit.

What you spend money on and where you spend your money sends a message to the world about what you value.  Hold on to your bread.

Analyze your energy usage like a boss

I was inspired to write this post tonight as I am paying my bills.

It usually takes me 15 minutes tops to pay them all. I never pay any bills in person and I don’t mail anything.

I’ve always peeped my energy usage out occasionally to see how it compares to the weather, but I noticed tonight that KCP&L really upgraded their online customer account dashboard.

Peep these nice graphs out!

You might notice that my energy usage has decreased quite a bit.  That is because I literally unplugged everything that I don’t frequently use (coffee maker, microwave, chargers, power cords) and only have a light on in one room – the room I’m in.  The only things that stay plugged in are my refrigerator, TV and stove.  When I am not charging my devices, and trust me, there are plenty of those here, I unplug the chargers.

In the winter, I run the heater when I’m home and I’m cold.  After the house warms up, and when I leave, I turn it off.  In the summer, I use fans and open windows as much as possible, and if I must, I turn on my window units.  When I first moved into this house, it was the beginning of August.  I didn’t have nay air conditioner.  I have worked myself up to two window units and still have managed to keep my energy costs very reasonable.

The bottom line is if you make an effort to conserve energy, you can save a lot of money!

 

Stick with me and I'll put you up on all kinds of game

Related topics coming soon:

  • How Collections Actually Work
  • Avoiding Creditors
  • Getting out from underneath payday loans (online and in-person)
  • To bank or not to bank? Getting an account when the banks won’t let you in
  • Bankruptcy: Is it right for you?
  • How I pay my bills in 10 minutes
  • Budgeting 101

Photo: a bunch of credit offers strewn all over the floor

Don’t worry about your credit (too much)

I have shitty credit. Okay, according to the credit bureaus, it is Very Poor.

Graphic: Screenshot of my credit scores at CreditKarma.com

My credit is bad from a series of very bad, lovestruck decisions prior to 2010, when I filed bankruptcy. And then some more stupid, lovesick choices that have been really keeping me down.  A lesson I have learned through all of this is: Don’t let your money (or anything) get you so stressed out you can’t think straight and make smart moves.  I made some dumb decisions trying to figure out how to make ends meet and make people happy at the same time.

Now that I’m a little older and wiser, I have made it a goal to get myself out of debt.  One important first step is to get a clear picture of what is going on with your finances.

I have managed to raise my credit score 50 points in the last three months alone.  I use Credit Karma to monitor my credit.  You can look at collections that are outstanding, view your open accounts, and even dispute items right there.  Credit Karma gives you recommendations (which you can follow, or not).  Credit Karma has another great feature I really like, which is reviews of credit products (cards and loans) by other users.  And all of this is completely free!

You can receive a free credit report once every year from each of the credit bureaus at www.annualcreditreport.com.  Make sure you are going to the right website.  Other sites will want your debit card info so they can charge you fees.

If you aren’t eligible for credit right now, make some steps make it better.  One day, before you know it, you’ll get it back.

Last summer, I went to a Maurice’s for the first time.  They offered me a credit card.  After years of being convinced that I would never be able to get a credit card again (I filed bankruptcy in 2010) and telling myself I didn’t need any credit (well, nobody needs it, but it is extremely helpful), I accepted their offer, and they approved me.  Ever since then, I have been getting offers in the mail like crazy.  I definitely learned that stores are eager to get people to sign up for credit cards, so if you are ready to start working on rebuilding your credit responsibly, I’d start with one of those.

The moral of the story is don’t give up hope!  Anything is possible if you do your research and take the proper steps to make it happen.

Stick with me and I'll put you up on all kinds of game

Related topics coming soon:

  • How Collections Actually Work
  • Avoiding Creditors
  • Getting out from underneath payday loans (online and in-person)
  • To bank or not to bank? Getting an account when the banks won’t let you in
  • Bankruptcy: Is it right for you?
  • How I pay my bills in 10 minutes
  • Budgeting 101

Banner: Netspend referral

Just in time for Taxes: Netspend Prepaid Debit Card

While I do not declare myself officially “unbanked,” I prefer not to deal with your average every day banking institution.  That’s why I use Netspend.

I get my paychecks 1-2 days early (which is a great thing, especially if you only get paid once a month).  Netspend doesn’t hang on to your money like other banks do.

So, if you haven’t filed your taxes yet, please consider signing up for Netspend and deposit your taxes there.  We can both get paid!

It’s super easy:

  1. Click the button below to order a card
  2. When your card arrives, load at least $40
  3. We’ll both get a $20 credit1
Get Your Card!

 

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