14 Best Grocery Coupon and Cash-Back Apps to Save Money

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, U.S. households spent 9.5% of their disposable income on food in 2019, with 4.9% being for food at home. Additionally, grocery store prices also saw a 3.5% increase between 2019 and 2020.

There’s nothing you can do to avoid food spending altogether. But you certainly don’t have to pay full price the next time you shop. There are numerous ways to save money on groceries, and you don’t need to sacrifice products you enjoy to find savings.

One effective way to reduce grocery costs is to use your smartphone. Apps that help you save on groceries have grown in popularity, which is excellent news for any frugal shopper. The next time you restock your kitchen, download a few money-saving grocery apps before heading out the door to start saving more.

The Best Apps to Save Money on Groceries

There are several app categories that help reduce grocery spending. Mobile coupon apps, grocery-store apps, and various cash-back rewards programs are popular examples. Using a combination of these apps and looking for in-store deals, you can maximize every dollar you spend on groceries.

1. Grocery Store Apps

The best way to save money on groceries is often to use store apps from your favorite grocers. Many supermarkets highlight in-store deals and coupons through a mobile app. Some stores even have loyalty programs that link to your mobile account, letting you redeem savings at the register.

Some of the best grocery store apps that have coupons and reward programs include:

If you stack a store rewards card with mobile coupons and deals, it’s even better. For example, if you do most of your grocery shopping at Kroger, you can sign up for the rewards debit card to save 2% on Kroger brands and earn fuel rewards. Target also has a mobile app that highlights coupons and store promotions, and you can shop with a Target RedCard to get 5% off most in-store and online purchases.

Between in-app coupons and your rewards card, you’re already starting to reduce your grocery bill without having to change stores.

2. Coupons.com

Coupons.com is a popular couponing website that’s essentially a database of free printable coupons and online promo codes. On the website, you can find and print coupons for a range of categories, including:

Coupons.com usually limits you to printing one or two of each coupon. It’s still an effective way to save, but if you want to earn rewards for grocery shopping, the Coupons.com app for Android or iOS is also worth using.

If you were a fan of SavingStar, Coupons.com acquired them in 2020. As such, through Coupons.com’s app, you can now earn cash-back rewards for buying specific offers, including groceries.

Simply activate rebates in the app by tapping on them, shop, and then take a picture of your receipt with the app to earn cash back. Alternatively, link store loyalty cards from companies like Publix or Safeway to automatically earn cash back for eligible purchases.

Unlike many reward apps, Coupons.com doesn’t have a minimum redemption requirement. You get paid through PayPal, and between paper and online coupons and cash-back rewards, Coupons.com is a comprehensive tool to save on groceries and everyday essentials.

3. Ibotta

Ibotta is another way to earn cash-back rewards for buying specific products from Ibotta partners. The app doesn’t focus on groceries. It also has deals for categories like health and beauty, travel, entertainment, and sports. But grocery delivery and rebate deals are still a significant portion of available offers.

Ibotta partners with more than 300 retailers, including grocery stores like Kroger, Meijer, Walmart, and Whole Foods. You can also find Ibotta deals at warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club.

Saving money with Ibotta takes four simple steps:

  1. Find Offers. Like other receipt-scanning apps, you preselect rebates before shopping. You can find rebates under the “find offers” tab within Ibotta and search by categories to narrow your search to groceries.
  2. Shop. After you select rebates, you’re ready to shop. Check Ibotta offers for any specific terms to ensure you buy the right brand, size, and quantity. Rebates often have specific requirements, and your purchase won’t credit if you make a mistake.
  3. Verify Purchase. Snap a photo of your receipt with the Ibotta app to verify your purchases.
  4. Redeem Cash Back. Ibotta deposits cash into your rewards account within 48 hours of submitting proof of purchase. You can cash out after reaching $20. Cash-out options include PayPal, Venmo, and gift cards to companies like Amazon, Starbucks, and Target.

Ibotta also lets you link store loyalty cards to your account to automatically earn for eligible purchases so you can skip selecting rebates. Loyalty card linking works at over 100 stores, including Hannaford, Meijer, and Wegmans.

Like other cash-back reward apps, it’s best to stack rebates with other discounts, like coupons or a cash-back credit card. For example, if you find an Ibotta rebate for $0.75 off Cliff Bars at Walmart, look for manufacturer coupons or Walmart store coupons for extra savings. If you then shop with the Capital One Walmart Rewards credit card, you’re maximizing your savings for that product.

It might take a few grocery trips to reach the $20 cash-out minimum. But Ibotta has some of the best offer variety and highest-paying rebates in the grocery rewards app industry, so it certainly has worthwhile saving potential.

Read our Ibotta review for all the details.

4. Fetch Rewards

Fetch Rewards is another receipt-scanning app for Android and iOS that works almost exactly like Ibotta. But while many Ibotta offers require shopping at a specific store, Fetch Rewards only requires buying specific brands to earn points. That means you can shop at your grocery store of choice without having to drive around town or miss out on offers from stores you never shop at.

Fetch Rewards partners with brands in several categories, including groceries, cosmetics, magazines, alcohol, and baby products. But groceries at the largest category, including recognizable brands like:

  • Betty Crocker
  • Heinz
  • Hershey’s
  • Knorr
  • Kraft
  • Oscar Mayer
  • Pepsi
  • Sabra
  • Yoplait

Once you purchase products from a Fetch Rewards partner brand, you take a picture of your receipt with the app to verify your purchase. Points credit in your Fetch Rewards account after the receipt processes, which typically takes a few hours. You can redeem points for dozens of free gift cards, including Amazon, CVS, Burger King, Dunkin’, Old Navy, and Target.

Receipts that have at least one participating brand pay a minimum of 50 points, or $0.05. Additionally, Fetch Rewards has a page where you can find higher-paying special offers that pay bonus points. For example, special offers might pay 2,000 points ($2) for buying a pack of Tyson chicken breast or 1,000 points ($1) for buying McCain frozen smile potatoes.

One advantage of Fetch Rewards is that you only require 3,000 points, or $3, to redeem many gift cards. Realistically, that means you can enjoy your first reward within a shopping trip or two, depending on how many eligible brands and special offers you buy.

You won’t score massive discounts with Fetch Rewards, but it’s another simple app to save money on groceries if you don’t mind scanning your receipts. The redemption minimum is also one of the lowest out of all reward apps.

Read our Fetch Rewards review for more information.

5. Checkout 51

Another way to turn grocery receipts into cash rewards is to use Checkout 51, a free grocery rewards app for Android and iOS.

With Checkout 51, you select rebates before shopping and upload receipts for proof of purchase. You can also link loyalty cards to your account from over a dozen partners, including Dollar General, Hannaford, H-E-B, Meijer, and Publix. It’s fairly similar to other reward apps.

However, Checkout 51 focuses on groceries for rebates and works at hundreds of stores, including:

  • Aldi
  • Albertsons
  • BJ’s Wholesale Club
  • Costco
  • Kroger
  • Meijer
  • Publix
  • Walmart
  • Whole Foods
  • Winn-Dixie

Additionally, Checkout 51 has a pick-your-own-offer section where you choose grocery essentials like bread, eggs, and produce to earn cash-back rewards for buying. These rewards usually range from $0.25 to $1, but it’s nice to reliably earn cash back on grocery essentials alongside specific products from brand partners.

Checkout 51 offers update every Thursday at 12am. So during the week, you might find that certain offers disappear as more shoppers claim them. That means it’s essential to check for new rebates on Thursday morning, select them, and shop that day to earn rewards. (Don’t wait for the weekend since grocery prices are higher on the weekends and sales usually happen on Wednesdays and Thursdays.)

Overall, Checkout 51 rebates are competitive, and you can redeem many offers multiple times, which is useful if you bulk-shop. Checkout 51 has a $20 cash-out requirement and pays through check. PayPal payments are also coming to the app and are currently in testing.

Reward variety is a downside for this app, but grocery-specific rebates and offer variety still make Checkout 51 one of the best grocery rewards apps around.

Read our Checkout 51 review for all the details.

6. Receipt Hog

If you’re already saving receipts to scan with other apps, add Receipt Hog to your smartphone.

With Receipt Hog, you turn everyday receipts into rewards just by taking a photo of your receipts with the app. But the type of receipt you upload determines the reward you earn:

  • Coin Receipts. Earn coins for uploading receipts for grocery stores, pharmacies, pet stores, dollar stores, supercenters, convenience stores, and alcohol stores. Coins are redeemable for free Amazon gift cards and PayPal cash.
  • Spin Receipts. Receipt Hog has a slots game where you can earn bonus coins or cash prizes for getting lucky. Spin receipt categories include apparel, department stores, home goods, office supplies, and electronics. Spin receipts don’t pay coins, so you have to get lucky to earn with this receipt type.
  • Sweepstake Receipts. Every receipt you scan grants you one entry into a monthly sweepstake where Receipt Hog gives out additional coins and cash prizes. You can also upload receipts from gas stations, restaurants, bars, and cafes for additional sweepstake entries.

Coin receipts are the most common type of receipt. You need 1,000 coins to redeem a $5 reward. Typically, receipts pay between five to 100 coins, with more expensive receipts paying a higher number of coins.

Realistically, it takes dozens of receipts to earn a $5 reward unless you get lucky on the slot game. But if you’re already scanning receipts with other apps, the extra 30 seconds of using Receipt Hog helps you save even more. And for non-grocery receipts, Receipt Hog provides the chance to at least earn something for scanning them versus throwing those receipts out.

Plus, there’s always the chance you get lucky with the slots or monthly sweepstake and earn a few hundred dollars’ worth of bonus coins.

7. The Coupons App

The Coupons App is a free couponing app that’s available for Android and iOS. While the app isn’t exclusively for grocery coupons, it’s still an immensely valuable tool to save on groceries and everyday shopping.

The app works with hundreds of retailers and lets you search, save, and use coupons right from your smartphone. You can also search for local deals and enable notifications to alert you when a nearby retailer has couponing opportunities.

But if you’re looking for an app to save money on groceries, The Coupons App has you covered. Several notable retailers the app regularly has coupons for include:

  • Aldi
  • Costco
  • Dollar Tree
  • Family Dollar
  • Kroger
  • Publix
  • Safeway
  • Walgreens
  • Walmart
  • Whole Foods

Mobile coupons and weekly ads update daily to keep you in the loop about in-store deals. You can also create a grocery list within the app with the corresponding coupons you plan to use. If you frequently buy the same brands, you can set up tracking to receive brand-specific coupon notifications to ensure you don’t miss out on savings.

Other features include a gas-finder tool to save money on gas, an Amazon price tracker, and weekly cash giveaways.

The grocery list tool coupled with brand-specific coupon alerts is a useful money-saving combination. At the very least, it’s worth recreating your existing grocery list on The Coupons App and tracking coupons so you can passively collect coupons for your favorite brands.

8. Flipp

Flipp brands itself as an all-in-one savings app and says users save an average of $45 per week. That translates to over $2,000 in annual savings, which is quite a bold claim for a free app to make.

But if you want to save money on a tight budget and maximize grocery store savings, Flipp is worth downloading. The app lets you browse thousands of digital flyers from more than 2,000 retailers to find weekly deals to build your grocery list with.

Plus, Flipp has several other money-saving features:

  • Add Loyalty Cards. Save store loyalty cards to access during checkout to ensure you always earn points.
  • Mobile Coupons. Find and save coupons to your store loyalty cards for easy use at checkout.
  • Find Deals. Search for weekly flyer deals and trending offers on categories like groceries, household essentials, and electronics.
  • Shopping Lists. Create a grocery list or general shopping list. Flipp automatically finds any corresponding deals for the products you add.
  • Price Matching. Since Flipp provides access to thousands of flyers, you can search for specific products and compare prices between retailers. That makes it easy to price-match at checkout if the store allows price matching.

The price-matching feature is what makes Flipp so powerful. It’s difficult to manually track weekly flyers to find the best deals in town. With Flipp, all you have to do is search for specific products and compare flyer prices to see if there’s an opportunity to price-match.

For example, if you find strawberries are cheaper at Walmart but you prefer shopping at a nearby Target superstore, use Flipp to show the Walmart flyer and strawberry price when cashing out at Target. Since Target matches prices with Walmart on identical regularly priced products, you save money. It also lets you shop at your favorite store without worrying about missing deals at a grocery store across town.

Flipp is available for Android and iOS. Popular Flipp retailers include Kroger, Walmart, Meijer, and Family Dollar, but it also works at dozens of other superstores, grocery stores, and drugstores.

It takes some time to look through the app for coupons and price-matching opportunities. But even using Flipp’s weekly ads section to find in-store deals at your favorite grocery store helps you save money without much effort.

9. Coupon Sherpa

If you want a grocery coupon app that keeps things simple, Coupon Sherpa is a perfect choice. This free app lets you access thousands of mobile coupons while on the go, and there are also hundreds of grocery coupons available at any given time.

Coupon Sherpa also lets you search for nearby stores with available coupons or search for store-specific coupons. These features are handy when planning an upcoming grocery trip, and the in-app coupon map highlights local stores with the most couponing opportunities for the day.

Coupons scan at the register from your smartphone, and there are online-only coupon codes as well. Popular grocery stores Coupon Sherpa usually has coupons for include:

  • Aldi
  • Albertsons
  • Food Lion
  • Kroger
  • Meijer
  • Publix
  • Wegmans
  • Whole Foods

You won’t find extra features like weekly sales flyers or cash-back rewards, but that’s not Coupon Sherpa’s strength. Instead, Coupon Sherpa helps experienced and novice couponers quickly access coupons while on the go, ultimately saving time and money.

10. BeFrugal

If you want the best of both worlds when it comes to coupons and cash-back rewards, BeFrugal is a must-use resource for savvy shoppers.

In terms of grocery coupons, BeFrugal partners with Coupons.com to provide a database of printable coupons. You can also access weekly ad flyers to find deals at companies like:

  • Dollar General
  • Family Dollar
  • Meijer
  • Shop ‘n Save Food
  • Target
  • Walmart

Admittedly, the coupons and flyer selection on BeFrugal isn’t incredibly comprehensive. However, according to BeFrugal, you can earn up to 40% cash back at more than 5,000 stores, which is what makes this platform stand out.

Earning cash back is also simple. Once you create a free BeFrugal account, you browse the website or Android and iOS app to find brands to shop. When you want to shop at a partner store, BeFrugal redirects you to their website. After you make a purchase, you earn cash back. If you use Rakuten, another popular cash-back rewards website, it’s the same process.

Cash back accumulates in your BeFrugal account once the retailer verifies your purchase, which typically takes around seven days. You withdraw cash back through check, direct deposit, PayPal, or Venmo or choose free gift cards to retailers like Amazon, Kohl’s, Starbucks, and Walmart. There’s no minimum requirement for direct deposit, PayPal, and Venmo. Most electronic gift card rewards start at $5. Cashing out by check requires $25.

Some notable grocery partners include:

  • Instacart
  • Postmates
  • Sam’s Club
  • Target
  • Walgreens
  • Walmart

Instacart and Postmates are notable because online grocery shoppers can also use BeFrugal to earn cash back. Plus, new BeFrugal members get a $10 sign-up bonus if they earn cash back within one year of joining.

If you’re only looking for grocery coupons, other mobile apps are better choices. But for online grocery delivery and other online shopping, BeFrugal is a reliable way to score cash-back rewards and save. At the very least, use the $10 bonus to offset some of the delivery cost.

11. Mealime

One common way to overspend on groceries is to let good food go to waste.

According to a 2020 study published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, the average U.S. family wastes an astonishing 31.9% of the food they buy. That translates to annual U.S. consumer food waste of approximately $240 billion (about $740 per person). And every time you waste food, you waste money, which also offsets any progress you’re making with your grocery savings.

Food waste is either a sign of overspending or a lack of meal planning. If you want to reduce food waste, the first step is to understand what’s in your kitchen and utilize every ingredient.

Thankfully, Mealime helps you stay on track with recipe planning, letting you shop efficiently. With Mealime, you plan weeks of meals in just a few minutes and can choose recipes to fit over 200 different preferences and dietary restrictions. You can also add your own recipes by importing recipes from website URLs, using the Mealime browser extension, or entering ingredients and directions manually.

Once you create a meal plan, a grocery list automatically generates to save even more time. Plus, since Mealime knows how many people you’re cooking for, its grocery lists reduce food waste by making sure you don’t over-shop, saving more money per year.

Mealime is available for Android and iOS. Most features are free, and the $5.99-per-month pro version provides nutritional information and exclusive recipes and lets you view your previous meal plans.

Ultimately, Mealime isn’t as comprehensive as meal-planning services like $5 Dinners that send out weekly hand-picked recipes to suit your tastes. But if you’re confident in the kitchen and want to simplify grocery shopping and avoid wasting food, Mealime is the perfect app.

Even reducing your food waste costs by $10 per month is $120 in annual savings. And you can take comfort knowing you’re being a more socially responsible consumer.

12. SnipSnap

If you currently shop with paper coupons, SnipSnap is the perfect solution to simplify your life and to avoid forgetting coupons at home.

Once you download SnipSnap for Android or iOS, you take pictures of your paper coupons to transform them into digital coupons on your phone. You don’t have to waste time clipping coupons, and SnipSnap can digitize any printed coupon offer you have.

Additionally, SnipSnap has other helpful features:

  • In-Store Reminders. SnipSnap sends a push notification if you enter a store and have eligible coupons you can use.
  • Discover Feature. If you don’t have coupons, the discover tab lets you snip coupons from SnipSnap’s featured coupon catalog. You can also search its database to find store-specific coupons.
  • Expiration Warnings. SnipSnap notifies you when your coupons are close to expiring.
  • Store Success Rating. Check coupon success scores for different retailers to gauge how easy it is to redeem coupons at various retailers.

The in-store reminders feature is handy since it helps ensure you use as many coupons as possible when you shop, saving you more money. Plus, you can find digital coupons to avoid printing coupons, saving you money on ink.

Ultimately, SnipSnap is the modern version of a coupon book.

13. Dosh

One downside of many rebate apps is that you have to preselect products before shopping to earn rewards. That requires time, and if you forget to preselect offers before shopping, you don’t earn a penny.

Thankfully, Dosh takes the traditional rebate model and makes it passive. Once you link the credit and debit cards you shop with to your Dosh account, you automatically earn cash back for shopping at hundreds of Dosh partners. There’s no need to preselect offers or scan receipts since Dosh monitors your spending once you link your cards.

Dosh also works with popular grocery stores, warehouse clubs, and supplement stores like:

  • GNC
  • Instacart
  • Kroger
  • Sam’s Club
  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Uber Eats

Additionally, Dosh partners with numerous fast-food chains, clothing stores, and cosmetics companies and adds new partners regularly so you can earn for a variety of purchases.

You withdraw cash back once you reach $25. Redemption options include direct deposit, PayPal Cash, and Venmo. Cash-back rewards vary between brands and are subject to change. But you typically earn an additional 1% to 2% from most partners. Dosh rewards are also stackable with cash-back credit card rewards and coupons.

Exclusively shopping for groceries with Dosh means it will likely take months to reach $25. But if you use linked cards for all your spending, you can reach the $25 redemption minimum more quickly.

Dosh is free for Android and iOS. If you want a humble source of passive income that helps you save money on groceries and everyday purchases, Dosh deserves a spot on your smartphone.

Read our Dosh review for more information.

14. Shopkick

Shopkick is a mix between a rewards app and mystery shopping side gig. With Shopkick, you earn kicks, the in-app point system, by completing various tasks, including:

  • Walking into specific stores
  • Purchasing certain products and uploading a receipt with the Shopkick app
  • Scanning product bar codes
  • Watching videos
  • Shopping online through the Shopkick app
  • Linking your credit card to Shopkick and making purchases at eligible stores

A typical grocery trip with Shopkick might have several opportunities to earn. For example, you earn 15 kicks for walking into a Walmart, 10 kicks for scanning the bar code for Huggies diapers, and 120 kicks for buying a Shopkick offer of Jack Link’s beef jerky.

It takes 250 kicks to get to $1, and you can redeem most rewards at 500 kicks. Shopkick lets you redeem kicks for PayPal cash or free gift cards to retailers like:

  • Amazon
  • Best Buy
  • eBay
  • Nike
  • Sephora
  • Starbucks
  • Target
  • Walmart

Rebate apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51 usually have higher-paying offers than Shopkick. But Shopkick is unique because you can earn rewards without spending money through tasks like walking into stores or scanning bar codes. If you want a versatile and potentially free way to save on groceries, you can stack Shopkick with other rewards apps to earn rewards even faster.


Final Word

The most effective ways to save money on groceries start at home. Creating a family meal plan, reducing food waste, and getting creative with leftovers can help you make the most of what you buy. If you also shop at less expensive grocery stores, like Kroger instead of Whole Foods, you’re also taking steps to cut costs.

But apps that help you save money on groceries are worth using. You also don’t have to download every grocery app that’s out there. Diligently using one rewards app is better than downloading several apps you never open.

Pick one or several grocery apps that catch your eye and take an evening to create accounts for them.

You can also get creative and try other methods to save money at the grocery store and beyond. For example, GetUpside lets you earn cash back on gas and select grocery stores. Similarly, if you order groceries or meal delivery kits online, you can earn cash back by shopping with Rakuten.

Over time, you’ll discover which apps work best for your area and favorite stores and avoid paying full price ever again.

Source: moneycrashers.com

11 Ways to Avoid a Financial Midlife Crisis

Midlife crises are expensive.

From flashy cars to trendy clothes and accessories to artificially trying to look younger with Botox or surgeries, midlife crises cost you both money and stress.

It’s not easy parting with the vigor, fitness, and attractiveness of youth. Nor is it easy to accept our own mortality on a visceral rather than conceptual level. As you navigate the middle years of your adulthood, try the strategies below to stop the emotional and financial bleeding, and inject some fresh vitality into your life.

What Is a Midlife Crisis?

The idea of a “midlife crisis” was first popularized by Freudian psychologists like Carl Jung in the early and mid-20th century. Because there’s no official diagnosis or definition for a midlife crisis, and it expresses itself in many different ways, it’s difficult to study scientifically.

Consider two different models for midlife crises. In the classic model, it takes the form of an acute emotional crisis, often triggered by a single event during adulthood such as a death, divorce, or job loss.

The American Psychological Association explains that emotional crises are usually marked by a “clear and abrupt change in behavior” and can manifest through depression, trauma, eating disorders, alcohol or substance abuse, self-injury, and suicidal thoughts. Sadly, the suicide rate among middle-aged adults is distinctly higher than other age groups, per the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Middle-aged white men see particularly high suicide rates, with men nearly four times as likely to die by suicide than women.

The other model for midlife crises is more protracted, expressed as a period of lower happiness or slow-burning depression. Studies such as a 2020 paper by Dartmouth’s David G. Blanchflower demonstrate a “happiness U-curve” over the course of adulthood, with happiness declining through our young adult and early middle years before bottoming out in middle age. Happiness levels then start to rise again, with older adults reporting greater satisfaction and well-being.

During midlife crises, adults tend to contrast the goals and dreams of their youth against their current life — and find it wanting. That can lead to thoughts like “I’ve wasted my youth,” or “What have I done with my life?”

It’s hard to imagine a worse feeling.

Signs and Symptoms of a Midlife Crisis

In response to these feelings, adults often start flailing for a lifeline — anything to make them feel young, successful, attractive, energized, or in control of their lives and destinies again.

Although a midlife crisis feels immensely personal while you’re experiencing it, you’re not alone. Over one-quarter of adults admit to experiencing a midlife crisis, according to the Midlife in the United States studies. Just imagine how many more people experience one and don’t talk about it.

The common signs that you or a loved one may be experiencing a midlife crisis can take a variety of forms. Some are physiological and psychological, including depression, changes in sleep patterns, and an uptick in substance use. This can produce effects ranging from trouble getting out of bed in the morning to maddening insomnia to abusing drugs or alcohol. (If you notice any of these symptoms, consider seeking the counsel of a doctor or therapist.)

A midlife crisis can also lead to changes in one’s attitudes and behaviors, such as a sudden obsession with physical appearance, an increased interest in status symbols, or infidelity. It often accompanies feelings of resentment or blame that can wreak havoc on personal and professional relationships, and may be characterized by feeling restless, apathetic, or unfulfilled.


Financial Impact of a Midlife Crisis

Midlife crises can ruin you financially.

Before letting yourself drift into a midlife crisis, think twice about the destruction you could sow. You can literally lose everything you own and hold dear.

Therapists are cheap by comparison.

Risk of Divorce

Few events in life are as traumatic — or expensive — as divorce. The divorce process itself can cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars between attorney fees, home sale costs, and other expenses from separating all your legal assets. Which says nothing of ongoing costs like alimony or child support.

Everything you own goes under the microscope to be parsed and parceled. Anyone who tells you they came out ahead in a divorce clearly didn’t fight fair, because divorces inherently drain assets rather than build them. Only lawyers get rich off divorces.

As painful as life may feel in a midlife crisis, it can get worse. And often, “worse” looks like divorce.

Risk of Job Loss and Career Derailment

Those feelings of apathy and restlessness could cost you your job in addition to your marriage.

It’s common sense: depressed people who feel unfulfilled by their job simply won’t produce quality work. That means they won’t earn promotions, won’t secure glowing references to help them get a new job, and won’t be first on any friends’ or colleagues’ list to recommend when new opportunities arise.

That’s assuming they don’t get fired, of course. Or worse, flamboyantly quit and “go out in a blaze of glory.”

All of these outcomes can make it extremely hard to find a new job, especially a better job.

The Direct Cost of Splurges

Even people who don’t lose their jobs or spouses can still end up blowing absurd amounts of money on midlife crisis splurges.

Take your pick: sports and luxury cars, boats and yachts, motorcycles, flashy and expensive hobbies, outrageous vacations, vacation homes, cosmetic surgeries, overpriced designer clothes and accessories. The staples of midlife crises cost money, and a lot of it.

That’s money you could put toward building real wealth, toward your long-term financial goals that you’ve actually thought through rationally with your partner or financial advisor. Goals like, say, saving a down payment for your dream home, saving for retirement, or helping your children with their college costs.


Strategies for Preventing or Escaping a Midlife Crisis

Yes, every midlife crisis looks different. One person might take up with their much-younger secretary, while another goes down the rabbit hole of serial cosmetic surgeries.

But they all cost you, and usually in more ways than one.

The following strategies can all help you retain (or regain) control over your life, your happiness, and your personal finances. You’re not alone, no matter how it feels in the moment. Bring your life back into alignment with intentionality, and a focus on improving your personal relationships and progress toward long-term goals.

1. Talk Through It With Loved Ones and Professionals

Your spouse, family, friends, and other loved ones don’t know what you’re going through if you don’t tell them. Even if they suspect you’re falling into a midlife crisis, they don’t understand your perspective without you explaining it.

Try them. Be patient with them, just as you want them to be patient with you. They probably won’t fully understand it the first time you broach the topic, but that doesn’t mean you should never discuss it with them.

To meaningfully change your life, you need to bring the people who share that life with you on board with any changes. But it also helps to simply unload, to unburden yourself to a disinterested third party.

Talk to a counselor or other professional, not for advice per se — although they may offer sound ideas — but simply to get your grief and anxiety off your chest and out into the open. Left swirling inside of you, these emotions can build up pressure until they burst.

2. Retake Control With Lifestyle Design

Far too many people drift with the tides of life, falling into their jobs, their relationships, even the city where they live. It’s no wonder so many wake up one day and realize they’re living a life they don’t actually like.

Sit down and write out a description of your ideal life, starting with where you live, the kind of work you do, your family life, your social life, your hobbies, and every other detail you can put to paper. No holds barred, nothing off-limits — simply outline your perfect life.

Once you’ve written out the what, you can then start brainstorming the how. The process is called lifestyle design. It doesn’t happen overnight, but by steadily working toward a life you actually want to live, you’ll find fresh meaning and purpose.

3. Reevaluate Your Long-Term Goals

Similarly, your life should align with your long-term goals. When they no longer align, you start drifting in a direction you don’t truly want to go.

For example, my top financial goal is to reach financial independence within the next few years by building enough passive income to cover my living expenses. At that point, working becomes optional. I pursue passive income by budgeting a high savings rate (more on that momentarily) and funneling as much money as possible into investments. And despite feeling the occasional midlife pang, I can still sleep each night knowing that I ended the day closer to my goal than when I woke up that morning.

Whether you aim to buy a new home, retire early, help your kids with college, take dream vacations, or maybe even buy that dream sports car, take a second look at your long-term goals — then form a financial plan to reach them faster. And if you need some expert advice, don’t be afraid to reach out to a financial advisor or other financial professional.

4. Increase Your Savings Rate

Money can’t solve every problem — but it can solve many. And even when it can’t solve a problem entirely, it can usually help. For example, anyone can get sick or injured, but the more money you have, the better your health insurance and medical outcomes tend to be.

To paraphrase author Robert Kiyosaki: I’ve been happy and rich, I’ve been happy and broke, I’ve been unhappy and rich, and I’ve been unhappy and broke; and I can assure you that being unhappy and rich is still a lot better than being unhappy and broke.

So how do you build wealth faster? By growing the gap between what you earn and what you spend: your savings rate.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I do know that more wealth will better prepare me and my family for it. And I can also tell you firsthand that when I feel those midlife pangs, such as thoughts like “My old college roommates earn more than I do,” I find some comfort in my frugal but high-savings lifestyle.

5. Become Debt-Free

While you don’t necessarily have to pay off your home loan or even your car loan in full, you should definitely not carry any unsecured debts by the time you reach middle age.

First and foremost, that includes paying off your credit cards in full every month. But beyond credit card debt, it also includes student loans, personal loans, and any other unsecured loans.

Stop paying high interest rates on consumer debt. It’s awfully hard to achieve financial stability and build an emergency fund — much less build retirement savings in your IRA or 401(k) — when you have high-interest debt repayments hanging around your neck each month.

When you become debt-free, you suddenly start thinking offensively instead of defensively. It frees you to focus on building wealth, passive income streams, and perhaps even replacing your full-time salary with investment income. You gain a welcome feeling of control over your finances and your future, which does wonders in fending off midlife crises.

6. Consider a Career Change (Carefully)

Quitting in a blaze of glory might look great in movies, but it won’t do your career any favors. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should stay in that unfulfilling job either.

As part of your foray into lifestyle design, spend some time brainstorming careers that better fit your passions, strengths, and long-term goals. Bear in mind that the jobs you grow up hearing about — teacher, cop, accountant, and so forth — make up a minority of the actual jobs available today. Many of the jobs in today’s workforce didn’t exist five years ago, and you may never have heard of them.

Consider meeting with a career counselor to take a career aptitude test and discuss options. Although often not cheap, you walk out with a slew of ideas that had never previously occurred to you — ideas that could well fit you better than your current job.

And, of course, they might also offer a higher salary or better benefits.

In my post-college life, I’ve been a mortgage loan officer, a real estate investor, an Internet marketer, an e-commerce executive, a founder of an online startup, and a freelance writer. Twenty years ago, I would have raised an eyebrow if you’d told me I’d end up doing any one of those jobs.

For fun, explore alternatives like jobs that provide free housing and jobs that let you live anywhere. If you need a dash of adventure, becoming a digital nomad can certainly do the trick.

Just don’t lose your spouse in the process. Talk through major career or lifestyle changes with your partner before charging forward without their knowledge or support.

7. Consider a Side Hustle

Not everyone going through a midlife crisis is ready to change careers just yet. But they may still want something more from their working life, both financially and emotionally.

In that case, consider starting a side hustle while you figure out what you want to do with your career. You can turn a hobby of yours into a business and keep it fun if you like.

Starting a business doesn’t have to mean selling off all your assets and pouring it all into inventory and a commercial lease. To keep your startup costs low and build cash flow quickly, consider starting an online business.

All the while, you can keep working your day job while you decide what you want to do with the rest of your life.

8. Find a Mentor or Coach

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel on your own. Ask for guidance from people who have done what you want to do, and who can show you all the shortcuts.

Beyond helping you skip costly mistakes and detours, mentors and coaches can also help you ask the right questions. They have the benefit of both experience and outside perspective, and can see angles that you can’t while in the thick of your day-to-day struggles. “I know you think you want X, but from what you’ve told me, it sounds like Y would actually be a better fit for you.”

Mentors and coaches also help you feel less alone. They can take you by the hand and guide you back to the path you actually want to walk through this life.

9. Embrace Adventure — Constructively

My wife and I may not earn enormous salaries like some of our friends do, but we lead a life of adventure, travel, and endless opportunities.

We spend 10 months per year overseas. It took some work to move abroad, between my wife finding a job as an international school counselor and me establishing income streams I can earn from anywhere. But we did it because we didn’t want to follow the same trajectory of white picket fences and overpriced mortgages that we saw our friends following.

It was one of the best decisions we ever made. We live in a country with a low cost of living, enjoy free housing and outstanding health care, and get to visit an average of 10 countries each year.

But we did it together, and we planned it carefully. We put in the work, rather than one of us just running off one day in the throes of a full-blown personal crisis.

You don’t need to go as far as moving abroad to inject some adventure into your life. Start smaller if you like, and if you’re worried about money, explore these ways to travel the world for free.

10. Take Care of Yourself Physically

Once when I was going through a depressive period, my father told me to do three things: get eight hours of sleep every night, eat healthier, and work out every day. “Go through the motions of being healthy, and one of these days you’ll wake up and realize you feel better both physically and emotionally.” As usual, he was right.

Your body and mind form a feedback loop. One of the easiest ways to jumpstart an emotionally healthier loop is to force yourself into a physically healthier routine.

It doesn’t have to cost you more money. You can eat healthy on a budget, and work out at home with no expensive equipment or gym memberships. Neither do you need expensive or habit-forming sleep aids, with all the natural sleep remedies available.

Finally, consider quitting drinking. Alcohol is expensive, both in terms of your wallet and your health. Worst of all, it correlates strongly with depression: everything in your life looks worse after you’ve been drinking.

As a byproduct of living healthier, you might just find you feel younger, too.

11. Volunteer More

How many hours do you volunteer each month?

Countless studies show that volunteering improves personal happiness levels, lowers rates of depression, and generally boosts our sense of well-being — see this study from BMC Public Health for an example.

That says nothing of all the unselfish reasons to volunteer like, say, giving back to the world.

There are plenty of ways to volunteer locally, but if you want to combine volunteering with travel, try out these ideas to volunteer abroad for free travel.


Final Word

Less than a year ago, I was clinking giant steins at Oktoberfest. Today I have a baby and have crossed into my 40s. I’ve spent more than a few nights wondering what happened to the excitement of my younger days.

Middle-aged adults can find comfort in research from the Institute for Human & Machine Cognition demonstrating a silver lining to midlife crises. Most people who experience them come out the other side with a greater sense of curiosity about the world around them — and where they fit into it. Armed with a better understanding of themselves and their place in the world, middle-aged adults emerge more thoughtful, worldly, and compassionate than their younger selves.

As fun as it is to be young and fit and glamorous, growing wiser and wealthier with age comes with its own rewards. If the price you pay for them is letting go of the trappings of youth, just remember you’re going to lose them regardless. You might as well relinquish them gracefully, and embrace the perks of more mature adulthood.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Beast Mode Goes Into Sales Mode: Marshawn Lynch Lists Bay Area Home for $5.3M

The former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch hopes to hand off his home in Point Richmond, CA, to a new owner. The waterfront abode in the East Bay is now on the market for $5,275,000.

The All-Pro purchased the unique property in 2012 for $3.6 million. If he lands his asking price, the star player will pocket a sizable profit—which isn’t an unreasonable goal in the perpetually heated Bay Area housing market.

There aren’t many comparables for this home on a tiny spit jutting out into the San Francisco Bay. A smaller home nearby sold in January for the more modest price of $2.45 million, or $545 per square foot. The current price per square foot on Lynch’s luxe abode is a more robust $749.

We’ll see if the Skittles-loving running back can manage a sweet sale.

Set directly on the water, the 7,039-square-foot modern design from 2000 gives an owner the sense of life on a houseboat. Water views are visible everywhere, thanks to the walls of glass and open floor plan.

With its five bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms, the handsome home boasts high ceilings, natural light, and picturesque Bay views from multiple decks.

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Watch: QB Carson Wentz Quits This Gorgeous New Jersey Home

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The living area sports a semicircular sectional sofa facing out toward the water, with a second sectional facing the opposite direction toward a TV wall. Above, a mezzanine overlooks the living area and currently contains sports memorabilia and seating.

The kitchen features light wood cabinetry, a massive stone island with a breakfast bar, and plenty of storage. A glassed-in formal dining area looks out to views of the water.

A double-height game room features a billiard-table and football-themed decor. The layout also includes a large laundry room, home theater, and a gym.

The master suite is a retreat with a spalike bathroom. The additional bedrooms all come with water views.

The property also has two separate garages, each holding two cars, as well as a boat dock. Decks stretch the length of the home, and stairs lead down to a patio with a grill.

Lynch hails from Oakland, which is about 20 minutes from the Point Richmond area. He stayed local, playing college ball at the University of California, Berkeley and earning All-American honors. Selected by the Buffalo Bills in the first round of the 2007 draft, he played for the Bills until he was traded to the Seattle Seahawks during the 2010 season, and blossomed into a megastar.

After going “Beast Mode” in the Pacific Northwest for five seasons, he retired, due to injuries. He returned to play with the Oakland Raiders in 2017, staying for two seasons, and then retired again. He opted to come back for a single game with the Seahawks in 2019. The free agent has apparently considered yet another return to the NFL.

Jacqueline O’Keith with Lamarc Realty holds the listing.

Source: realtor.com

6 Ways to Reuse Items to Save Money and Reduce Waste

We live in a throwaway society. We wipe up spills with paper towels and wipe our noses with paper tissues we discard after a single use. We upgrade our computers and replace our cellphones nearly every year. Many of us even change our whole wardrobes every season, discarding old clothes that are in perfectly good shape because they’re “so last year.”

All this waste is costly, both for us and the environment. We could all stretch our dollars much further by using the same product many times rather than just once. And because we’d be buying less, we’d cut down on our use of energy and natural resources as well. So when you choose to reuse, you’re making your life greener and cheaper at the same time.

How to Reuse Items to Save Money and Reduce Waste

There are many ways to make reuse a part of your life. Some are simple, such as carrying a reusable shopping bag to the supermarket. Others take a bit more effort, such as shopping secondhand or using pallets for building material.

If you’re new to the idea of reuse, start with a few baby steps. Once you become comfortable with those, work your way up to the big stuff. As you become accustomed to the practice, you’ll discover even more ways to trim both household waste and your personal budget.

1. Ditch Disposable Products

For many people, using disposable products is just a matter of habit. They grab a disposable water bottle when leaving the house or purchase paper napkins at the grocery store.

In these cases, switching to reusable goods can feel awkward and unfamiliar at first. But if you give it a chance, before long, it becomes second nature. And once you’ve watched your trash can become lighter while your wallet stays heavier, you’ll never want to go back.

These are some examples, but there are many disposable household goods you can ditch forever.

Water Bottles

Drinking bottled water is a common and expensive habit. If you go through a $10 case of bottled water every week, that’s $520 per year for something you could get out of a tap for less than $1.

Invest in a $20 reusable water bottle instead, and it will pay for itself more than 25 times over in its first year of use. At the same time, you’ll keep more than 1,200 disposable plastic bottles out of the waste stream. And according to a report from the Pacific Institute, you’ll save more than 100 kilowatt-hours of energy.

The EcoVessel New Wave BPA-free plastic sports water bottle (available in 24- and 32-ounce volumes) is perfect for on-the-go sippers thanks to its durable straw lid design and ergonomic body.

Shopping Bags

Americans use billions of plastic shopping bags each year. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, New York state residents alone go through 23 billion plastic bags per year. That’s nearly one bag per person per day. Producing the plastic for all those bags contributes to climate change, and the bags themselves often end up as ocean waste. You can avoid contributing to this waste by carrying reusable bags.

And avoiding reusable grocery bags can sometimes save you money at the checkout. For instance, grocery stores like Aldi charge directly for shopping bags. Although the fee for each bag is modest, you can avoid it entirely by bringing your own. Other stores, such as Target, offer a small discount for each reusable bag you bring.

There are dozens of kinds to choose from, including canvas, nylon, and string grocery bags. There are even bags you can fold and tuck into a pocket or bag to ensure you always have one when you need it.

Dishes and Utensils

You probably use washable dishes, glasses, and silverware for your meals at home. But during the workday, you might not think twice about grabbing a paper coffee cup or plastic fork. And when you’re done eating or drinking, it goes right in the trash.

But there’s a cheaper and more eco-friendly alternative. Keep a mug, plate, and set of silverware at work to eat your takeout or leftovers in style, and just wash the dishes when you’re done. If you typically use one disposable plate, one paper cup, and one set of plastic utensils each workday, this tip can save you about $72 per year.

To-Go Containers

The large food portions at restaurants are more than many people can eat in one sitting. You know you can save as much as a dollar or two (for those who take their lunch to work) to upward of $10 (if you usually eat out).

The downside is that when you ask to take home your leftovers, the server usually brings you a giant Styrofoam clamshell that just goes straight into the trash after you eat. But by bringing a reusable container when you’re planning to eat out, you can avoid both food waste and packaging waste.

Napkins

A family of four that uses one paper napkin at every meal buys and discards more than 4,300 napkins per year, more than $515 worth. That same family could buy a dozen cloth napkins for $9 and reuse them for years. They’d save over $500 in the first year alone, produce less trash, and save trees.

Paper Towels

Paper towels are even more mainstream than paper napkins. According to Earth911, the average American spent $17.50 on them in 2017.

But many reusable products can take the place of paper towels. For less than most people pay per year for paper towels, you could get a dozen washable sponges or microfiber cleaning cloths you can reuse for months. Or you can make reusable cleaning rags from old socks and T-shirts for free.


2. Repair Instead of Replacing

When something around your house breaks, do you fix it or buy a new one? In many cases, the first choice is both cheaper and greener.

And if you directly compare the replacement versus repair cost for most things, it’s no contest.

Cars

If you own an old car that’s in and out of the repair shop all the time, it may seem cheaper to buy a new one than to keep paying for repairs. But according to Credit Karma, the average monthly payment on a car loan is $568, or $6,816 per year. So unless you’re paying that much every year to keep your old car on the road, it’s cheaper to keep repairing it.

But money isn’t everything. If your old car has become so unreliable you fear being stranded miles from home, replacing it could be a better choice. You can also replace an old gas-guzzler with a newer, more fuel-efficient model as a way to reduce air pollution and shrink your carbon footprint.

Computers

An unreliable computer can be just as frustrating as an unreliable car. But once again, replacing it isn’t always the only option. You can often cure a sluggish PC just by clearing away unnecessary system files, defragmenting the hard drive, or removing viruses. In many cases, it can cost you nothing at all.

Other computer upgrades cost money. For example, it costs about $90 to upgrade to a new solid-state hard drive or add 16 gigabytes of memory. But that’s still quite a bit less than the $650 or more you’d pay for a new desktop computer, and it produces less toxic electronic waste as well.

Furniture

If you have an old, scratched table or a chair with a worn-out cover, don’t give up on it. You can cover those scratches using a $5 bottle of scratch-cover polish instead of spending $200 or more on a new one. You can remove the seat on a dining chair and recover it using a staple gun and $5 worth of fabric, saving you the cost of an $80 replacement.

For more complicated furniture repairs, such as refinishing or reupholstering, you can hire a professional. But that may cost more than replacing the piece, so check prices before making your decision. Selling or donating your old furniture keeps it out of a landfill too.

Clothing

Clothing with minor damage, such as a ripped seam or a missing button, is easy to fix. You can purchase a $7 mini sewing kit with everything you need to make minor repairs: needles, thread, buttons, scissors, and pins.

If you have a more complex repair project or don’t know how to sew, you can find a tailor to do it for you. According to Thumbtack, simple repairs like replacing a zipper generally cost around $20, which is quite a bit less than replacing a winter coat or a nice pair of dress pants.

Shoes

Sometimes, it seems like the minute you get a new pair of shoes comfortably broken in, they wear out and you have to replace them. But a simple DIY shoe repair may be all it takes to keep those comfy shoes going. For example, scuff marks are easy to cover with a marker pen, while broken shoelaces and worn-out insoles are easy to replace for $10 or less.

For more complex jobs, such as replacing soles or heels, you can go to a shoe repair shop. But according to Vox, that kind of repair may cost $50 or more, so it’s only worth doing on quality shoes that cost significantly more than that to replace.


3. Shopping Secondhand

Sometimes, there’s just no way to repair something. But that doesn’t mean you need to buy a brand-new one. You just need one that’s new to you.

Pretty much anything you can buy is cheaper when you buy it used. The primary exceptions are antiques and collectibles, which gain value as they age.

But secondhand shopping doesn’t just save you money. It keeps perfectly usable goods out of the landfill and saves the resources and energy needed to make new ones.

And there are many places to shop secondhand.

Thrift Shops

You can find secondhand clothing, furniture, and household goods at thrift shops. Prices vary depending on the type of store.

Nonprofit thrift stores, such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and church basement shops, typically charge the least. For instance, at my local church thrift shop, most goods are $2 or less, but you have to watch out for damage, such as stains or missing buttons.

By contrast, consignment stores often focus on selling like-new clothes from high-end brands. Prices are usually more than you’d pay for new clothes at a department store but still much less than you’d pay for new designer-label clothes.

Yard Sales

You can find even bigger bargains at garage sales, also known as yard sales or tag sales. Yard sale shopping is very hit-and-miss, but on a lucky day, you can find real treasures at great prices.

You can pick up all kinds of things at garage sales, including books, games, movies, music, furniture, electronics, and clothing, all at prices well below retail. Kids items, such as clothes and toys, are prevalent since children often outgrow things that are still in good condition.

You can find yard sales in your area by checking local papers and sites like Garage Sales Tracker and Yard Sale Search.

eBay

This giant online auction site has just about anything you can think of for sale: art, music, collectibles, clothing, and even cars. That makes it the perfect place to look for obscure pieces you can’t find anywhere else.

But not everything sold via eBay is secondhand, and not everything is a bargain. To ensure you get a good deal, set a price limit — say, half what the purchase would cost in a store — and refuse to pay more than that.

Another problem is that you can’t see the merchandise in person to check for defects. The best you can do is read the listings very carefully and pass up anything you’re unsure about.

Swap.com

Despite its name, Swap.com is not a bartering website. Instead, it’s a consignment site where you can buy and sell clothing and several other items, like toys and books, in good condition. Prices are generally more than you’d pay at a nonprofit thrift store but less than you’d pay at a consignment shop, with most apparel and accessories priced between $4 and $50.

ThredUp

Another suitable site for buying and selling clothes online is ThredUp. Garments start as low as $4. You can also send your old clothes to ThredUp in exchange for cash or credit to spend on the site if they accept them.

Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace

Craigslist is a marketplace where people in a local area can buy, sell, and swap goods and services. The for-sale section includes listings for just about any commodity you can imagine, including cars, clothes, appliances and electronics, and furniture.

Since anyone can post a listing, prices and product conditions vary widely. But when you shop through Craigslist, you often have a chance to check out the merchandise in person before you pay money for it. Most Craigslist sites also have a free section for giveaways and a section for yard sale listings.

Facebook Marketplace has a similar platform.

Reuse Centers

If you’re renovating your home, check your local reuse center before heading to the big-box home improvement retailer. These stores carry a wide variety of building materials, appliances, and furniture in good condition. Prices are usually no more than half the retail price and sometimes as low as 10% of retail.

Reuse centers are most commonly in or near large cities. You can check The Loading Dock and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore website to look for stores in your area.

Secondhand Specialty Stores

Many stores specialize in a particular kind of secondhand wares, such as books or music. Some stores, such as Half Price Books, offer a selection of used books and recordings alongside their new ones.


4. Swapping Goods

Swapping goods is an even bigger win-win than shopping secondhand. You can get rid of your unwanted stuff and pick up new stuff at the same time, with no money changing hands. So you get all the environmental perks of buying secondhand, and the price is unbeatable: absolutely free.

And you’re not limited to your friend group. There are plenty of places where you can swap goods with neighbors you don’t yet know.

Freecycle

The Freecycle Network is like a version of Craigslist where everything is free. Freecycling doesn’t require a direct swap for things of equal value. Instead, everyone posts listings for things they don’t want (or things they need).

For example, if you’re in the market for a new pair of ice skates, you can look for them on your local Freecycle group instead of hitting the store. And when you have something you no longer need, you can post it for someone else to take. You could get someone else’s too-small pair of skates for free and keep them and your unwanted goods out of the landfill at the same time.

Freecycle has listings for just about everything: clothes, books, furniture, electronics, and even plants. Some goods are in like-new condition, while others are completely broken but still useful for parts. To see if there’s a local Freecycle group in your area, visit Freecycle.org and type in your city and state.

Free Stores

Some larger cities have free stores and markets, which are like an in-person version of Freecycle. You can drop off unwanted pieces in good condition and help yourself to anything other people have left.

Most free stores (sometimes called “really really free markets”) don’t have permanent storefronts with regular hours. Instead, they’re open-air markets that occur on a particular day or large boxes where people can pick up and drop off items. To look for a free store near you, do a search on your town’s name followed by “free store” or “really really free market.”

Swap Shops and Swap Meets

Swap shops and swap meets are similar to free stores but with a twist: You have to give something to get something. It doesn’t matter what you bring or what it’s worth, as long as you donate something.

One type of swap meet is a clothing swap party. At these events, you and all your friends bring the clothes you no longer want and trade them with each other.

Online Swap Sites

You can also swap online at swapping websites. For example, Rehash is like an online clothing swap party for people all over the country. At PaperBack Swap, you can trade in paperback books you’ve read and get new titles in exchange.


5. Utilize the Sharing Economy

When you shop secondhand, you’re reusing old stuff someone else no longer needs. But there are also some things nearly everyone needs but almost no one needs every day.

For example, anyone with carpeting needs a vacuum cleaner, but most people only use it about once per week. So it would make a lot of sense if there were some way for a bunch of neighbors to have just one vacuum and take turns using it.

That’s what the sharing economy is all about. It lets just one item — a book, a car, or even a building — be enough for multiple people. There are many examples — some old and familiar, others more modern.

Public Libraries

Libraries aren’t just for books anymore. At many public libraries, you can also borrow audiobooks, music CDs, and DVDs of popular films and TV series. You can even read popular magazines instead of shelling out $5 or more to buy them off the rack.

Taking advantage of all these features can save you big bucks. For example, the average household with cable or satellite TV spends nearly $110 per month on it, according to Leichtman Research. If your library gives you enough entertainment choices to cancel your cable, you can save close to $1,320 per year.

Car Sharing

Let’s say you like to bike to work in good weather, but you prefer to drive on cold or rainy days. Instead of having a car that just sits in the driveway most of the time, you could join a car-sharing program, such as Turo or Zipcar.

Zipcar costs approximately $70 per year, plus a driving rate starting at $12.50 for each hour you use the car. If you made 10 three-hour trips per month, that would come to $4,570 per year. That’s less than half the $9,576 per year Car and Driver says it costs the average driver to buy and maintain a car.

Bike-Share Programs

If you use your car more often than your bike, you can keep the car and join a bike-share program instead. It gives you access to a whole fleet of bikes you can check out as needed.

For example, at Capital Bikeshare in Washington, D.C., you can borrow a bike for 24 hours for only $8. Doing so twice per month comes to $192 per year, which is quite a bit less than the cost of most new bicycles. Plus, you don’t need to store the bike, which is handy if you live in a small apartment.

Cohousing

Many houses have rooms that sit unused most days. For example, perhaps you only need your laundry room once or twice per week, your formal dining room twice per month, and your guest bedroom even less frequently.

In a cohousing community, people can share these seldom-used spaces with others. Each person or family has a small private home, while a larger building or home has areas all residents can use. Living in a cohousing unit usually costs less than owning a separate house of your own with all the same amenities.

The exact amount you save with cohousing varies. According to the Foundation for Intentional Community, a survey of 200 cohousing residents found that each household saved between $200 and $2,000 per month. And in a 2018 Journal of Accountancy article, a retiree who downsized into cohousing estimated her savings at $10,000 per year.

Coworking

Just like homes, many office buildings have spaces workers don’t use regularly. Desks sit empty while people are on vacation, and employees only use conference rooms once per week.

Coworking spaces allow a bunch of freelancers or solo professionals to share one building. That way, they all save money on rent and amenities like coffee and Internet access. Calculations by ValuePenguin show that small businesses with fewer than 12 employees save an average of $2,700 per month by using a coworking space rather than leasing an office.

Community Gardens

It’s possible to share outdoor spaces as well. Community gardens are shared plots of land in a city where people join together to grow flowers and fresh vegetables. These sites turn unused and unsightly vacant lots into sources of fresh food.

Many community gardens are free to join, but even if there’s a membership fee, it may be much lower than the cost of owning a house with a yard of your own. And having many people share a single garden is a much more efficient use of land than spreading the same amount of garden space across multiple lots.

Specialty Sharing

In many cities, there are special “libraries” where people can share all kinds of goods. For example:

  • Tool-lending libraries make it easy to borrow home and garden tools you only need occasionally, such as an extension ladder. Having 10 neighbors share one ladder is a much more efficient use of resources than each one having a ladder they rarely use.
  • Toy-lending libraries let kids choose from a much wider variety of toys than they can keep in their rooms at home. Parents can swap toys when their kids get tired of them rather than throwing them away and buying new ones.
  • Seed exchanges allow gardeners to trade extra seeds and seedlings they don’t need for new ones they can use rather than discarding them.

6. Get Creative

Often, when you reuse something, you’re simply continuing to utilize it for the same purpose. For example, you take a cloth grocery bag on yet another trip to the store, upgrade an old computer, or donate a too-small sweater to a thrift shop so a smaller person can wear it.

But sometimes, an item can’t do its original job anymore. When that happens, there are two things you can do: throw it out or put it to a new use. For instance, an old Mac computer that can’t handle today’s software can become an aquarium, or a sweater with moth-eaten sleeves can be cut down to make a vest.

These are examples of creative reuse, also known as upcycling or repurposing. It can be one of the more complicated ways to reuse, but for people who love to let their imaginations run free, it’s also the most fun.

There are many creative ways to repurpose common household items, such as:

  • Mesh Bags. To give mesh onion bags a new life, string a shoelace through the top. This drip-dry storage bag can hold bath toys or corral small kitchen tools in the dishwasher. A rolled-up mesh bag, held together with a few stitches, makes a good scouring pad for pots and pans.
  • Milk Jugs. An empty milk jug also has lots of uses. You can cut off the top to make a storage bucket with a built-in handle. Cutting off the bottom at an angle creates a dustpan or a large scoop for pet food, kitty litter, or potting soil. Cutting off just the base makes a miniature greenhouse to protect your tender seedlings in the garden.
  • Blue Jeans. A pair of blue jeans that’s worn out at the knees still has lots of good, usable fabric. The simplest way to reuse it is to cut off the legs and make shorts. But with a little more sewing skill, you can turn the denim into a sturdy apron, a tote bag, a purse, or a set of potholders.
  • Canning Jars. The humble Mason jar has become a trendy decoration. These glass jars can store anything from candy to office supplies to leftover paint. At chic parties, they can contain cocktails, hold candles, and display flowers. Do a quick search on “Mason jar projects,” and you can see literally hundreds of other ideas.
  • Shipping Pallets. Typically, shipping pallets are used once and discarded. But for creative carpenters, they make an almost unlimited supply of free wood. At sites like 1001Pallets, you can find instructions for turning pallets into tables, chairs, wine racks, shelves, and just about everything else for the home.

That doesn’t mean you have to start saving all your trash so you can upcycle it. The point of creative reuse isn’t to avoid throwing stuff away. It’s to avoid buying new stuff by putting what you have to good use.

Once you get into the habit of reusing things, the whole world becomes your materials bin. Instead of running to the store when you need something, you start looking around to see what you already have.

For instance, if you need a hat rack, you might spot a big branch out in the yard and think, “Aha!” An hour later, the branch is stripped of bark and mounted on your wall, and you have a unique hat rack your friends will envy.


Final Word

The three R’s of the green lifestyle are “reduce, reuse, and recycle.” Of these three, recycling tends to get the most attention. These days, we all know how to separate our trash and check the numbered logo on the bottom of a plastic bottle. And it’s easy to think recycling means we’re doing our bit to help the planet.

But reusing is much better than merely recycling. Yes, recycling a water or soda bottle is better than making a new one from scratch. But turning old bottles into new bottles still takes energy and produces pollution. Plus, it only works if people remember to “close the cycle” by buying recycled products.

But when you have a reusable bottle, you stop waste in its tracks. Any energy that went into making that bottle has already been used, and using it again doesn’t take a single watt more. When one reusable bottle can take the place of more than 1,200 disposable bottles every year, you save more energy — and more money — every time you use it.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Retired MLB Closer Robb Nen Selling Lake Havasu Getaway

[soliloquy id=”173753″]

Robb Nen, the three-time All-Star relief pitcher who won a World Series with the then-Florida Marlins in 1997, is selling his cool Lake Havasu, AZ, pad.

Situated on a quarter-acre lot that sports a lovely water view of Lake Havasu itself, the stucco-and-wood manse features three bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms at just a hair under 5,000 square feet. If you’re in the market for an Arizona oasis getaway, it can be yours for the $1.4 million asking price.

The home’s expansive game room includes an eight-seat home theatre, a shuffleboard game, a ping pong table, and a slew of arcade games. There also is a massive 10-foot by 34-foot garage where Nen currently has a boat parked.

(Listing agents Bobby & Julie Lewis can tell you if you that comes with the property when purchased.)

The rest of the house is pretty fantastic, too.

There are at least two outdoor fireplaces with a gunite pool and spa affording views of the surrounding golf course—as well as the lake water beyond. There’s also a detached “casita” for guests to enjoy privacy.

The property features gorgeous tile and stone work throughout the home—with custom tile in each of the home’s bathrooms—a stacked stone floor-to-ceiling fireplace and a coordinated granite-topped bar. Amazing stone work continues into the open kitchen with its granite-topped center island and countertops that glow beautifully with its custom cabinetry.

Robb Nen, who retired from baseball after the 2002 season due to injuries, ranks 15th overall in saves in MLB history. He led the National League in saves once (2001) while playing for the San Francisco Giants. Nen was an All-Star pitcher in 1998, 1999 and 2002.

Source: realtor.com

3 Ways to Listen to Free Music Online – Downloads, Streaming & Radio

Back in the day, there were only two ways to listen to recorded music. You could tune your radio to a local station and hear whatever song happened to be playing, or you could go down to the record store and buy a copy of your favorite songs on a vinyl disc.

Today, that sounds quaint. According to The Guardian, digital music downloads overtook sales of physical recordings on CD or vinyl way back in 2012. More recently, even digital downloads have lost ground to music streaming services. In 2020, streaming accounted for 85% of all the music industry’s revenues, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

All this technology has made listening to music significantly cheaper. According to a 2017 Nielsen report (via Digital Trends), the average consumer spends only $156 on music each year. Savvy consumers know there are several ways they can get most of their digital music for free — leaving more money in their budgets to enjoy a live concert or two.

How to Listen to Music for Free Online

There are three primary ways to get your favorite music for free online. Which one you choose depends on what you’re looking for.

1. Streaming Music Online

Today, streaming services are indisputably the most popular way to listen to music. With a streaming music service, you don’t own the songs you play, but on the plus side, you’re not limited to the number of tracks you can fit on your phone or MP3 player.

Streaming services can take several forms. Some are subscription services that play music selected for you, some are more like radio stations, and some simply play tunes on demand. However, many online music sources blur the boundaries between these categories.

Internet Radio

Internet radio stations work the same way as old-school radio: They select songs, and you listen to whatever pops up. But instead of being limited to the few stations in range, you can choose from a vast list of specialized stations that suit particular musical tastes. Also, if you hear a song you really can’t stand, you can just skip it — something you can’t do over the airwaves.

Some services take this personalization to its logical extreme by creating custom radio stations to suit a user’s tastes. Instead of a live DJ choosing which tune to play next, algorithms select songs for you based on which artists and music you say you like.

Advertising funds the majority of Internet radio stations. But some let you upgrade to an ad-free experience for a small monthly fee. Choosing a paid version also lets you skip songs more frequently. Most online radio stations limit users of free accounts to six skips per hour.

There are multiple internet radio stations to choose from.

Pandora

Started in 2000, Pandora is one of the top streaming sites on the Internet. Its music-picking algorithm, known as the “Music Genome Project,” analyzes the songs you like best and then presents you with other songs that share similar qualities.

According to Digital Trends, Pandora’s music collection is pretty decent, with about 40 million tracks for its on-demand service. However, the main reason to listen is its “magic algorithms,” which do a fantastic job of picking out songs to match your tastes. You can listen on a range of devices, including computers, smartphones, TVs, and car audio systems.

Pandora’s basic service is free. However, you can pay to upgrade to ad-free listening with Pandora Plus for $4.99 per month. On-demand listening via Pandora Premium costs $9.99 per month for individuals, $14.99 for families with up to six members, $4.99 for students, and $7.99 for military members.

LiveXLive

Formerly known as Slacker Radio, this service relaunched as LiveXLive in 2017. The new name reflects its focus on providing live music streams. The service earns an Editors’ Choice designation from PCMag, which praises its “curated stations” hosted by experienced and informative DJs.

Along with its extensive music collection, LiveXLive offers live news from ABC and pop culture tales called “Slacker Stories.” It also hosts videos featuring music news, interviews with artists, and even live performances. It’s easy to use on multiple platforms, with apps for Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Roku.

A free account comes with 128 kilobits per second audio and the ability to skip up to six songs per hour — and plenty of ads. You can remove these limitations and upgrade your speed by upgrading to Plus ($3.99 per month). Going up to Premium ($9.99 per month) gives you access to on-demand and offline listening.

Last.Fm

At Last.fm, you create a custom profile that’s continuously updated with info about what artists and genres you’re listening to. The site uses this feature, which it calls “scrobbling,” to make personalized recommendations for new music. It also has a social media component, introducing you to other music lovers who share your tastes.

A basic subscription to the site is free. An ad-free version with extra features costs just $3 per month. You can listen to Last.fm on the Web or through its desktop and mobile apps. The apps can also track what music you listen to from other streaming music services and use that information to enhance your profile.

Jango

One of the newest players in the Internet radio field is Jango. Like Pandora, this service creates custom radio stations based on your musical tastes. You select your favorite artists, and Jango plays music from those artists and similar ones. You can fine-tune the playlist by rating songs you especially like or never want to hear again.

Jango also has hundreds of ready-made stations. Some are based on different genres, such as country, classical, or hip-hop. Others focus on more specific themes, such as today’s top 100 hits or Christmas songs.

You can listen to Jango over the Web or via an app for Android or iOS (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch). The service is 100% free and supported by ads. However, if you link Jango to your Facebook account, you will hear only one commercial per day. The mobile apps sometimes offer ad-free listening as well.

Subscription Services

A subscription streaming music service is like a library filled with songs users can check out but not keep permanently. Most subscription services make money by charging a fixed monthly rate in exchange for unlimited listening. But many also offer free accounts funded by advertising.

Amazon Music

There are two ways to listen to Amazon Music. If you have an Amazon Prime subscription, it comes with access to a limited catalog of 2 million songs. This basic, ad-supported service has thousands of stations and playlists, and you can listen offline with unlimited skips. You can also use Alexa, Amazon’s smart assistant, to control playback and discover new music.

If you want more music, you can upgrade to Amazon Music Unlimited. It gives you ad-free, on-demand access to 75 million songs in HD. Over 7 million songs are available in Ultra HD, and the service also includes access to exclusive Ultra HD remastered albums. Amazon Music Unlimited also gives you access to other audio, such as podcasts.

Your first 30 days of Amazon Music Online are free. After that, it costs $9.99 per month for Prime nonmembers or $7.99 per month if you have a Prime subscription.

Spotify

Named the best all-around music streaming service by Digital Trends, Spotify is by far the most popular on-demand streaming service in the world today. There are several ways to use it:

  • Discover new music through the site’s curated playlists.
  • Create playlists from Spotify’s collection of more than 50 million tracks.
  • Browse playlists created by others, including friends, performers, and celebrities.

All music on Spotify is free, but upgrading to a Spotify Premium subscription for $9.99 per month gives you several extra perks. You get better audio quality, ad-free playback, and the ability to save songs for offline listening. You can also play songs on demand in the mobile app, a feature that’s unavailable with a free subscription.

You can listen to Spotify over the Web or via its iOS and Android apps. It also runs on certain gaming consoles, smart speakers, and car audio systems.

YouTube Music

The free version of YouTube Music is like a cross between a radio station and an on-demand streaming service. It invites you to name some of your favorite artists and uses that information to recommend albums, curated playlists, and custom playlists for you.

But unlike most online radio stations, YouTube Music lets you move around these lists at will, skipping forward or backward. Ads are relatively infrequent, according to Gizmodo, and it’s possible to skip some of them. You can also search for specific artists, albums, and tracks by name, save your favorites to your library, and create playlists.

YouTube Music also has some extra features most music services don’t provide. For instance, you can switch back and forth between audio tracks and music videos with the tap of a button. The service can also search for a song based on its lyrics.

All this is available free over the Web and on Android and iOS. However, upgrading to YouTube Music Premium for $9.99 per month lets you listen ad-free and stream in the background while your device is off. If you subscribe to YouTube Premium for streaming video, you get access to YouTube Music Premium for free.

Deezer

Though it’s not as well known as other streaming services, Deezer is surprisingly full-featured. This service provides a blend of on-demand streaming, live radio, podcasts, videos, and exclusive content — all for free.

On the Web or your desktop, Deezer recommends playlists for you based on your favorite artists and genres. You can also search a library of 73 million for specific tracks to create your own playlists. Deezer also provides synchronized song lyrics. However, the free service is available only on desktops, mobile devices, and a few home devices. It also limits skips.

If you upgrade to Deezer Premium ($9.99 per month) or Deezer Family ($14.99 per month), you get ad-free streaming, an offline mode, and unlimited skips. You can also connect on up to three devices at once, including smart speakers, smart TVs, wearable devices, game consoles, and car audio systems. You can try Deezer Premium free for 90 days.

Free Trials

Some streaming music services don’t have free ad-sponsored versions, but they do offer free trials. These give you a chance to test the service and decide whether it’s worth coughing up the cash for a monthly subscription.

Apple Music

With a library of over 75 million songs, Apple Music is the ideal streaming service for anyone who relies on Apple devices. It’s the only service you can control with the Apple Watch or voice commands to Siri, Apple’s smart assistant. Windows users can also use Apple Music via iTunes on their computers, but it doesn’t work as smoothly, according to Digital Trends.

Apple Music allows you to store up to 100,000 songs in your personal streaming library. If you’re an iTunes user, you can find many of your songs already available in the streaming library when you first sign up. The service also includes Apple Music 1, a 24-hour radio service curated by noted DJs and musicians.

The free trial period is 90 days. But according to Insider, you can double this to six months by signing up through an account with Best Buy. After the trial, choose from three service tiers: student at $4.99 per month, individual at $9.99 per month, and family at $14.99 per month.

Tidal

Both PCMag and Digital Trends agree that Tidal, a streaming service owned by top rap artist Jay-Z, has top-notch audio quality. It also offers exclusive content for hardcore music fans, such as timed releases from top artists like Beyoncé, live streams, concerts, and backstage footage. It even provides early access to certain concert and sports tickets.

Tidal offers a library of over 70 million songs and 250,000 music videos. However, as Digital Trends notes, it’s not easy to discover new music, and the interface can be buggy. Also, Tidal doesn’t provide lyrics, unlike many other services. You can listen on computers, mobile devices, smart TVs and streaming devices, smart speakers, and car audio systems.

The free trial period lasts 30 days. After that, Tidal Premium is $9.99 per month for individuals and $14.99 per month for families. Tidal HiFi, with lossless-quality sound, is $19.99 per month for individuals and $29.99 per month for families. But there are discounted subscriptions available for students, military members, and first responders.

SoundCloud Go

This service is the streaming counterpart to SoundCloud’s music download service. Digital Trends calls SoundCloud Go the best way to discover new indie music thanks to its vast library of 120 million user-created tracks. Its higher-tier SoundCloud Go+ adds another 30 million tracks from major labels and ad-free listening.

The service has nearly 200 million active users each month, and tons of lesser-known artists upload their newest songs regularly. However, unlike many other services, it doesn’t use algorithms to help you find music, so it can take some work to search through all the content to find your new favorites.

The free trial period is seven days for SoundCloud Go and 30 days for SoundCloud Go+. If you like it, you can pay $4.99 per month for SoundCloud Go or $9.99 per month for SoundCloud Go+.

Free Streaming on Demand

Some sites don’t require a subscription to stream music — you just go to the site, pick a track, and listen. For instance, on YouTube, you can type in the name of just about any song and find a video version of it.

The artists or their labels post some of these. But some are amateur videos created by fans, and some have just the music accompanied by a blank screen or lyrics. For example, a search for the popular song “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor turned up Trainor’s official video, a live performance of a jazz cover version, and numerous fan-created videos and parodies.

YouTube is an excellent place to find that obscure song you heard years ago, even if you’re unsure of the title or the artist. Just type in the most memorable line from the song, and let YouTube’s search engine do its thing. Using this method, I tracked down two old novelty songs: “Put the Lime in the Coconut” by Harry Nilsson and “Right Said Fred” by Bernard Cribbins.


2. Free Music Downloads

In the age of the Internet, it’s very easy to download music illegally. However, if you prefer to stay on the right side of the law — and support your favorite artists and the music labels that support them — you need to dig a little deeper to find free music downloads that are also legal.

Amazon

In addition to its streaming service, Amazon has a massive catalog of digital music for download, including more than 5,000 free songs. Many of these are obscure tracks by relatively unknown artists. But there are also a few gems by better-known performers, such as the rock band Foo Fighters and the folk artist Carole King.

Finding free tracks on Amazon is a bit tricky since the site keeps trying to redirect you to Amazon Music. Your best bet is to search the Internet for “find free music downloads on Amazon” and follow the first non-sponsored link you find.

SoundCloud

The primary SoundCloud service is sort of like YouTube for recording artists. Any user can upload music to the site, making it available for other users to download or stream.

Not all the music on SoundCloud is free, but you can find free tracks by both major and lesser-known artists. You can search the site for specific artists or genres or just browse the selections of trending music. SoundCloud’s services are also available through mobile apps for iOS and Android.

SoundClick

Much like SoundCloud, SoundClick provides a place for independent artists to make their music available directly to listeners. Founded in 1997, this site now offers millions of tracks spanning a variety of genres. You can find hip-hop, electronic, rock, alternative, acoustic, country, jazz, and even classical.

You can stream unlimited tracks via SoundClick or download them in both MP3 and lossless format. As a subscriber, you get your own profile page and custom playlists. You can follow your favorite artists, connect with other users, and support artists through tips.

Free Music Archive

Created by independent freeform radio station WFMU in New Jersey and now owned by the Dutch music collective Tribe of Noise, the Free Music Archive is a collection of free legal music tracks submitted by users and partner curators. All music on the site appears under Creative Commons licenses, which let artists make their work available for various uses without surrendering their rights.

Digital Trends calls the archive “a veritable treasure trove of free content” you can search by title, artist, genre, and length. The site also hosts a wealth of podcasts and some live radio performances from big-name artists.

Jamendo

Another site that distributes free music under Creative Commons licenses is Jamendo. Around 40,000 artists from more than 150 countries have contributed more than 500,000 tracks, available for streaming or download, to the site.

According to Digital Trends, this site offers a streamlined user interface that makes it easy to browse and find new musicians. Even though most artists featured here aren’t well known, it’s easy to find the most popular tracks based on their user ratings, so you don’t have to sift through countless songs to find the good stuff.

If you need music for commercial purposes — for instance, in a video you want to distribute for profit — Jamendo offers a licensing service. For a monthly fee of $49, you get an unlimited number of tracks for commercial online use.

NoiseTrade

NoiseTrade is a project of the award-winning lifestyle magazine Paste. The “trade” in the name means artists give you their music on the site in exchange for your email address and postal code. It’s a win-win for users, who get free tracks or entire albums, and for artists, who get to build their fan bases.

Digital Trends describes this site’s interface as simple and clean. You can easily search tracks, browse recommendations, promote your favorite artists via social media, and send them tips with a credit card.

ReverbNation

Many well-known artists, including Imagine Dragons and Alabama Shakes, built their fan bases from scratch by sharing their music on ReverbNation. The site hosts over 3.5 million artists representing a mix of genres, like rock, R&B, indie, hip-hop, country, and folk. Its Discover feature can help you find up-and-coming artists in genres that interest you.

DatPiff

Hip-hop artists have long used mixtapes to spread their work. In that tradition, DatPiff offers access to a variety of new free music from both new rappers and mainstream artists like Drake and Future. According to Digital Trends, it’s the leading place to download new tapes, view release schedules, and listen to compilations created by fans.

Audiomack

A newer, up-and-coming player in the mixtape realm is Audiomack. It focuses on hip-hop, rap, and trap music from both newcomers and established artists like Kodak Black. Some artists on this site allow only online streaming of their songs, but there are still plenty of downloadable tracks.

CCTrax

Another genre-specific site is CCTrax. Although it hosts tunes from various genres, it has an unparalleled collection of electronic music, including dub, techno, house, downtempo, and ambient. Many of the singles and albums are licensed by Creative Commons and free for use in other works.

Musopen

Classical music lovers can find lots of free recordings, sheet music, and even textbooks at Musopen. Most classical music pieces are in the public domain, so it’s perfectly legal to distribute them for free. The site has a vast library of royalty-free recordings you can search by composer, performer, form, instrument, or period.

Live Music Archive

For live concert recordings, Live Music Archive is the place to go. The site is a collaboration between the Internet Archive, a nonprofit repository of digital media, and Etree.org, a community for sharing concert tapes. Recordings date back to 1959 and span a wide variety of genres, including rock, reggae, and jazz — and over 15,000 Grateful Dead shows.

According to Digital Trends, this site can be tricky to navigate. There’s no search function, but you can filter results by artist, title, or date. When you find what you want, you can stream it or download it in MP3 or FLAC (free lossless audio codec) form.


3. Broadcast Radio

Even in the brave new world of digital media, there’s still room for the old-fashioned kind. In fact, according to a 2019 Nielsen report, more Americans tune in each week to old-school radio — over the airwaves — than any other platform, including TV and all Internet-connected devices.

Far from killing off broadcast radio, the Internet has revitalized it. A couple of decades ago, you could only listen to your favorite radio station when you were in range of its antenna tower, which made it hard for smaller stations with less power to compete. Today, as long as you have an Internet connection, you can listen to any radio station that has a livestream.

For example, if I want to listen to my local NPR station, WNYC, I can just type “WNYC.org” into my web browser and click the Listen Live button. It’s a lot easier than fiddling with the radio knobs to hit the right frequency and allows you to listen to local radio, even when you’re traveling.

TuneIn

The Internet can help you discover new radio stations as well. At TuneIn, you can find and listen to Web streams from 100,000 radio stations around the world. Sports, news, podcasts, and talk radio are also available.

You can listen to any station on TuneIn with a free subscription. But your stream will include all the ads played on the radio station. With a premium subscription, which costs either $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year, you can listen to many stations ad-free and reduce the number of ads on others.

In addition to its website, TuneIn is available to download as an app for iOS or Android devices. You can also listen via car audio systems, smart speakers, game systems, smart TVs, streaming devices, and wearables.

iHeartRadio

Another site devoted to traditional radio is iHeartRadio. You don’t need a subscription to tune into radio stations or search for one by location. The site also gives you access to podcasts and playlists based on genres, decades, or moods.

With a free subscription to the site, you can build Pandora-style custom stations based on specific songs or artists you like. You also gain full access to IHeartRadio’s podcast collection as well as a custom library in which you can save your favorite stations, music, and podcasts.

For $4.99 per month, you can upgrade to a Plus subscription. It allows you to skip as many songs as you like, play songs and albums on demand, and save and replay songs you hear on the radio. With an All-Access subscription ($9.99 per month), you can also create unlimited playlists and download songs for offline listening.


Final Word

Despite all the Internet has to offer, digital music may never entirely take the place of physical recordings. There are even signs the old-fashioned record store is making a comeback. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, more than 40% of all profits for sales of physical recordings in 2018 came from vinyl LPs and EPs.

The world of modern music isn’t so much about digital versus analog, recorded music versus streaming, or custom radio versus curated stations. Rather, it’s all about choice. Music lovers today have more options than ever for listening to music exactly the way they want. And thanks to the Internet, they also have plenty of options for how much they spend on it.

Source: moneycrashers.com

15 Things You Should Buy at Yard Sales

Garage sale
Pressmaster / Shutterstock.com

Yard sales are the ultimate form of recycling.

Whether your neighbor is hawking a souvenir spoon collection on her lawn or your church has gathered congregants’ donations for a fundraiser, you can dig up some hidden gems.

Plus, pat yourself on the back: Giving these items new life will likely save trash from filling up a landfill.

Here’s a look at things you’d be smart to snatch up at the next yard sale you visit.

1. Le Creuset and Pyrex

Not all of us are educated on many lines of kitchenware, but Le Creuset cookware and Pyrex glassware warrant a little sleuthing.

Both are sought-after for resale — I cite them in “21 Thrift Store Gems You Can Cash In On.” Or, you could incorporate them into your own kitchen stock.

2. Picture frames

You can print your digital photos or illustrations cheaply enough, but the cost of frames can hang up even the best gallery-wall intentions.

Hunt down frames at yard sales instead.

3. Specialty appliances

Single-use appliances are so tempting. You can almost convince yourself you’d regularly use that cake-pop maker or hot-dog cooker. And maybe you would.

But don’t splurge on a new one when you can pick up your neighbor’s barely used gadget for one-tenth of the price.

Who knows, jelly making just might become your jam.

4. Legos

Snap to it: Legos have been popular for generations. Kids love them and grown-ups — if they’ll admit it — often find the plastic bricks mesmerizing and fun, too.

You may not pick up a complete NASA space shuttle set at a yard sale, but a giant crate of mixed bricks should assemble hours of fun.

5. Recipe boxes

Cookbooks and online food sites are tasty, but there’s something about a carefully curated flip-top box full of handwritten recipes.

Grandma’s famous Christmas cookies, the prize-winning recipes Mom meticulously snipped from the hometown paper, Dad’s deviled-egg secret — each family’s treasured treats are special.

You won’t get rich by buying up these cherished collections, but the fun of traveling through another family’s delectable diary is worth it.

6. Baskets

Never pay full price for a basket: Yard sales and thrift stores have enough for an entire army of Little Red Riding Hoods.

I like to scoop them up cheap and save them for teacher gifts, filling them with favorite snacks and a good bottle of wine.

7. Exercise equipment

Resolving to get in shape, but don’t want to trudge to a health club?

Don’t sweat it: It’s likely that someone with great intentions bought an exercise bike or other piece of workout gear, then sat on the couch and failed to use it. Make their fitness fail your core find.

8. Certain baby items

Don’t scoop up a secondhand car seat or crib, as we detail in “10 Things No One Should Ever Buy Used.”

But it’s generally fine to buy items like baby clothes, strollers and bassinets used. And the price is a real pacifier.

9. Travel guides

Are you Barcelona-bound? Heading for Hawaii? There are online travel guides aplenty, but a good, solid travel guidebook often comes in handy.

Here’s a savvy traveler’s tip: The history, maps and basic info about a region may stay the same for decades, but if you buy a guidebook that’s more than a few years old, verify that hotels and restaurants are still in business before showing up at one. Bon voyage!

10. Sports gear

Obviously, Olympians don’t pick up their ice skates or soccer knee pads at yard sales. But backyard athletes and kids starting out should make it a goal to acquire some sports accessories there.

They’re often only lightly used.

11. Halloween costumes

Creep it real at Halloween by buying used costumes — whether child- or adult-sized — at yard sales.

They’re often barely worn and frightfully cheap.

12. Fancy dress-up clothes

Wedding gowns, prom dresses, tuxedos with lapels that span a continent — formal wear is a yard-sale favorite.

Not everyone wants to go all Molly Ringwald in “Pretty in Pink” and remake a vintage prom dress, but discarded duds will delight kids with princess dreams.

Or, use them for Halloween costumes. You won’t feel guilty splashing fake blood on a $5 wedding dress to create a zombie bride ensemble.

13. Musical instruments for children

Not every kid is a Prince-like prodigy. Many of us were nudged into music lessons, then abruptly quit the school band and shoved that barely used clarinet under the bed for the next decade.

You may not find the best-quality band instruments at yard sales, but at yard-sale prices, your young Mozart might not care.

14. Pulp fiction

No, not the 1994 Quentin Tarantino movie, but pulp paperback books — cheap reads with lurid and colorful covers.

A good pulp makes a juicy purchase — whether you want to frame the cover, read the book, resell it or give it as a white elephant gift.

15. Vintage board games

Everyone has Monopoly, but not everyone owned the wonderfully goofy Mystery Date game — in which players opened a plastic 3-D door, hoping the correct handsome hunk was waiting.

A vintage board game could make for a perfect gift for that friend who helped you survive the ‘70s. But be warned: Pieces are probably missing.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

Where to Find Free or Cheap Audiobooks Online

For many book lovers, the biggest problem with their favorite hobby isn’t the money it requires. It’s the time. There are plenty of places to pick up cheap books and e-books. But finding a free moment in your busy week to sit down with a book can be a much more significant challenge.

Audiobooks solve this problem. With these recordings, you can listen to a book’s author or a professional voice actor reading a book aloud while you go about your business. They make it possible to enjoy a good book while you’re driving, doing the dishes, or even working out.

Unfortunately, audiobooks can be expensive. Sites like Audiobooks.com commonly price bestselling titles between $15 and $35. At those prices, a two-book-a-week habit could cost anywhere from $1,560 to $3,640 per year. But you can find audiobooks for much less — or even completely free — if you know where to look.

Where to Find Free Audiobooks

If you just want the occasional page-turner and don’t mind a limited selection of books (often focused on older titles), you’ll save the most money by sticking with free audiobook sites.

All these sites are both free and legal. Some feature volunteer-recorded works that are no longer under copyright, while others offer newer books freely contributed by their authors. You can download or stream from them without fear of stealing or otherwise harming hardworking authors and publishers. And there are many such sites to choose from.

When choosing a free audiobook site, make sure you have the right software to download or stream your books. Most free audiobooks available online are in MP3 format, which works with any device capable of playing digital music files. You can stream them with audiobook apps such as the Apple Books app for Apple devices and Smart AudioBook Player for Android.

1. E-Libraries

If you’re looking for free audiobooks, first see if your local public library is a member of an electronic lending library, or e-library — collections of digital media provided by public libraries across the country.

If it is, you can use your library card to check out and download audiobooks and other media, such as e-books and videos, from its collection. When you check out an audiobook, you get access to it for a specific period. Once your time runs out, it goes back into the general pool.

There are several ways to find out if your local library is part of an e-library network. You can ask the librarian, consult the library’s website, or do an online search for “e-library” plus the name of your state. Or visit the OverDrive website, click on “Find a Library,” and enter your zip code. Once you find an e-library in your area, you can see what selections and formats it offers.

To listen to your borrowed books, use the Libby app from OverDrive. Libby allows you to check out both e-books and audiobooks from electronic lending libraries. OverDrive also offers an app called Sora specifically designed for use with school libraries.

Audiobook selections at e-libraries vary from one library to the next, just like their book selections. Larger library systems are most likely to have a wide range of audio options, including bestsellers. For instance, the New York Public Library’s digital collection includes over 300,000 e-books and audiobooks. But since only one user can check out a given copy of an audiobook at a time, there can be long wait times for the most popular titles.

Some e-libraries have partnerships with a service called Hoopla. It gives members access to all sorts of digital media: e-books, digital comic books, audiobooks, movies, and TV shows.

If your library works with Hoopla, you can check out any audiobook in its collection through the website or the Hoopla mobile app. It’s available for iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, and various streaming media players.

2. LibriVox

One of the best sources for free audiobooks is LibriVox. Its collection includes more than 10,000 audiobooks read by volunteers from all over the world. You can stream these files right in your browser window or download them to hear later. All books on the site are in the public domain, which means they mostly date from 1923 or earlier.

These public domain audiobooks span a wide range of categories. Children’s books, novels, plays, poetry, erotica, history, philosophy, science, and self-help are all available. You can find such classic works here as Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” and L.M. Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables.” There are also many foreign-language works.

You can even sign up to contribute your own audio recordings to the archive. All you need is a computer, a microphone, and some free recording software, such as Audacity. You can contribute a recording of any book that’s in the public domain. You’re not required to audition, but the site recommends you do a one-minute test recording to check your sound setup.

3. Project Gutenberg

In the 1400s, Johannes Gutenberg developed the first printing press with movable type, which brought printed books to the masses for the first time. In the same spirit, Project Gutenberg aims to make public domain texts available to all readers at no cost. The site is best known for its massive collection of e-books, but it also hosts audiobooks in more than 60 languages.

There are two types of audiobooks at Project Gutenberg. Computer-generated voices read some, but these lack expression and can be hard to understand. But the site also hosts copies of LibriVox recordings made by human volunteers. Selections include Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick,” Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre,” and 24 volumes of L. Frank Baum’s Oz series.

4. Internet Archive

Even if your local library doesn’t belong to an e-library network, you can access a collection of nearly 21,000 free audiobooks and poetry readings through the Internet Archive. This massive collection of digital text, audio, and video files aims to make all recorded knowledge accessible to anyone with a computer anywhere in the world.

Some of the audiobooks on the site are recordings made and contributed by its users. Others are from collections of free audiobooks on sites like LibriVox and Project Gutenberg. The collection includes literary classics like Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” mysteries like Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,” children’s books like Frances Hodgson Burnett’s “The Secret Garden,” folk tales, and plays.

One unique Internet Archive feature is Mind Webs. It’s a collection of radio dramatizations of classic science fiction stories originally aired on a Wisconsin radio station from the 1970s through the 1990s.

More than 20 years later, the creator of the series contributed his entire collection of tapes to the archive for release in digital form. The series features stories from celebrated sci-fi authors, including Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The End,” H.G. Wells’ “In the Abyss,” Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron,” and Ray Bradbury’s “Kaleidoscope.”

5. Free Classic Audiobooks

Another site that features public domain audiobooks is Free Classic Audiobooks. Its collection is much smaller than LibriVox’s, but it still has titles by hundreds of famous authors. The most popular downloads on the site include the King James Bible, Jane Austen’s “Emma,” and Nellie Bly’s “Ten Days in a Mad-House.” The site also hosts short stories and audio language courses.

Most selections on this site are available in both MP3 format and M4B, an audio format you can “bookmark” to keep track of your place in the story. However, the M4B files only work on Apple devices.

Although the entire site is free, you can support Free Classics Audiobooks by purchasing a collection of its recordings. You can choose a single USB stick with 200 classic audiobooks, one with 600 short stories, or a collection of seven language courses in MP3 format.

6. Loyal Books

At Loyal Books, you can access over 7,000 free e-books and audiobooks. Most audiobooks on this site are LibriVox recordings of works in the public domain, such as Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Return of Sherlock Holmes” and Frances Hodgson Burnett’s “A Little Princess.” But there are also some original works submitted by their creators, such as Eric L. Busby’s “Star Trek: Lost Frontier.”

You can stream audiobooks directly from Loyal Books or download them to your device. Audiobooks are available in various formats, including MP3, M4B, and iTunes podcasts. The site also allows you to submit reviews of an audiobook you’ve listened to and read reviews from other users.

7. Lit2Go

While most free audiobook sites are for book lovers in general, Lit2Go specifically targets students. It offers stories and poems in MP3 format with extras that make them useful in a classroom setting. All the works are either in the public domain or licensed for educational use.

For each work, there’s an abstract, a citation to be used in papers, a total word count, and keywords related to the subject matter. There’s also a Flesch-Kincaid grade level, which is a rough indication of how difficult the work is to read. Each audio file comes with a PDF transcript of the text so students can read along or refer to it in the classroom.

Featured texts on Lit2Go include poems by Emily Dickinson, famous presidential addresses and messages, and a collection of books adapted as movies, such as Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” and Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence.”

You can sort through books on the site by author, title, genre, or readability. You can also browse collections of books on a particular topic, such as mathematics, the Civil War, or the concept of happiness.

8. LearnOutLoud.com

Another site that gathers audio files for educational purposes is LearnOutLoud.com. This site offers audio downloads of over 3,000 texts, more than 1,500 free documentaries, and over 1,000 free online courses.

Audiobooks on this site cover a wide range of topics, including history, science, sports, business, and technology. Many of the audiobooks available are not public domain works but newer books published directly by LearnOutLoud.com. The site also offers live recordings of radio interviews by celebrated journalist Studs Terkel.

9. Scribl

The primary purpose of Scribl is to help aspiring authors publish and distribute their books. One way for Scribl authors to promote their works is to turn them into audio recordings using either their own voice or an actor’s and distribute them through the site. Not all Scribl books are available in audio format, but all the audio recordings on the site are original new releases.

Not all audiobooks available through Scribl are free. The site uses what it calls “CrowdPricing,” meaning it bases the price of a book on how many users download it. Thus, the most popular books cost about as much to buy as you’d pay at a typical online bookstore.

But books that aren’t selling as well are much cheaper or even free. Additionally, all newly posted books are free for a brief promotional period. That means users can always find plenty of newly released audiobooks on Scribl at no cost.

Some audiobooks are available as full-length downloads, while others are broken into chunks for streaming. Additionally, every audiobook on the site comes with a free copy of the text in PDF form.

Scribl makes it easy to search for books that interest you. You can sort books by publication date, author, or title. You can also filter the options by book length, language, genre, rating elements (such as violence or sexual content), target age group, setting, and demographic attributes of the main character (like age, gender, race, religion, and sexual orientation).

10. Spotify

Streaming site Spotify is best known as a place to find free music online. But if you browse the books genre within the Spotify app, you can find numerous spoken-word recordings. The collection includes classics like Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening,” Charles’ Dickens’ “Great Expectations,” and the autobiographical “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.”

Spotify also offers playlists of selections from different types of audiobooks, such as bestsellers, children’s books, or erotica. Some playlists cover stories by specific authors, such as H.P. Lovecraft or J.K. Rowling. You can listen to any of these playlists for free with some interruptions for ads or pay $10 per month for a Spotify Premium account to listen ad-free.

11. Storynory

Many free audiobook sites include some works for children, but Storynory caters exclusively to kids. Selections on the site include fairy tales, classic works, mythology, poetry, and original stories. In the educational section, you can find retellings of culturally important tales, like Bible stories and histories from Herodotus as well as stories that enhance kids’ vocabularies.

You can stream audio files directly on the Storynory site or download them in MP3 format. Each one has accompanying text on the website so kids can read along. There’s a brief introduction for each story summarizing the content and sometimes warning about elements that might be scary for the youngest children.

12. Sync

What Storynory does for kids, Sync does for teens. Sponsored by AudioFile magazine and powered by Sora, this free summer audiobook program provides audio recordings to complement teenagers’ summer reading.

Each year, from late April until late July or early August, the site gives away two free, thematically linked audiobooks each week. The first two selections for summer 2021 are “Come on In,” a collection of 15 stories about immigration and finding a home, and “Illegal” by Francisco X. Stork.

To participate in Sync, sign up for an account on the website. When the free audiobooks become available, you’ll receive a notification by text or email. New titles appear every Thursday at 12am Eastern and remain available on the site for one week only. However, once you’ve downloaded a given title into the app, it’s yours to keep.

13. Open Culture

There’s a smaller selection, about 1,000 titles, of free audiobooks at Open Culture. This site doesn’t host audiobooks itself, but it provides links to free audio files available on other sites, including Apple Podcasts, LibriVox, the Internet Archive, university servers, magazine websites, and YouTube.

Although everything on Open Culture is available elsewhere on the Internet, the site makes these recordings much easier to find. It has put together a list of top-notch audiobooks and arranged them into three broad categories: fiction and literature, poetry, and nonfiction.

Each list sorts works alphabetically by author name. All you have to do is scroll down to locate works by notable authors like Maya Angelou, Ray Bradbury, Jorge Luis Borges, Neil Gaiman, Langston Hughes, Gertrude Stein, and Virginia Woolf.


Where to Find Cheap Audiobooks

Although free audiobook sites offer a lot of choices, they don’t have everything. In particular, if what you really want to hear is a recent top-selling audiobook read by a noted actor, there’s very little chance you can find it for free.

But you can do the next best thing: find it for cheap. You can gain access to a wide array of audiobooks, including new bestsellers, through a subscription service for a low, flat monthly fee. You can also find cheap audiobooks at online stores that offer steep discounts.

When you’re choosing a cheap audiobook provider, be mindful of the software requirements.

Not all audiobook files work with all audio players. For instance, audiobook files with the extensions .aa and .aax work only with Audible’s book-reading software. Fortunately, most audiobook services offer free software to listen to your recordings.

14. Audible

The best-known source of audiobooks is Audible, a subsidiary of Amazon. Its collection includes thousands of titles, many of them read by famous actors like Nicole Kidman and John Malkovich.

However, Audible doesn’t just distribute audiobooks. It also produces them. Audible Originals are exclusive audio titles produced in the Audible studios. These selections span a wide variety of genres, including literature, theater, comedy, and journalism.

For $7.95 per month, you gain unlimited access to Audible’s entire collection. You can stream audiobooks, Originals, and podcasts from the free Audible app, which works with iOS, Android, Sonos, Kindle, and Alexa-enabled devices. You can also save titles to your library for offline listening.

For a higher monthly fee, you can download a certain number of titles each month to keep forever in addition to streaming as many as you like. You retain access to these books even if you let your Audible subscription expire. At $14.95 per month, you get a credit for one premium selection title to keep each month. At $22.95 per month, you gain two monthly credits.

Your first 30 days on Audible are free. After that, Audible automatically bills you each month. But you can cancel your service at any time. You lose access to any credits you have left but retain access to any audiobooks you’ve already downloaded.

15. Downpour

There are two ways to listen to audiobooks on Downpour. You can buy and download individual titles one at a time, or you can sign up for a monthly subscription.

A $12.99 monthly subscription gets you one credit per month, which is good for nearly any book on the site. Since some books are more expensive than others, it can be up to 70% cheaper than buying the audiobooks individually. You can also purchase additional credits for the same price as your monthly membership fee. Unused credits expire after one year.

Unlike Audible, Downpour doesn’t offer a free trial. You start paying for membership as soon as you sign up, and you keep paying each month automatically. But you can cancel at any time and keep the books you’ve already downloaded.

Downpour offers audiobooks on physical CDs as well as downloads in MP3 or M4B format. The Downpour app works on iOS and Android devices. You can also access Downpour from most Web browsers.

16. Audiobooks.com

Like Downpour, Audiobooks.com is both a store and a subscription service. When you subscribe to its VIP Rewards program for $14.95 per month, you receive one monthly credit that’s good for any audiobook on the site. Additionally, you get a second monthly audiobook of your choice from a rotating selection reserved exclusively for VIP Rewards members.

Once you’ve made your monthly book selections, you can either stream them or download them onto an iOS or Android device. If you want more than two audiobooks per month, you can purchase “top-up credits” good for additional books. Alternatively, you can buy books for cash at lower prices than the site offers to nonmembers.

All your selections remain accessible as long as you maintain your membership. If you cancel, you lose access to all the books you chose from the VIP collection. But you keep any books you purchased with cash or credits.

Like Audible, Audiobooks.com offers a free 30-day trial for new members. It also has a family plan that lets your family members listen to all your audiobooks and save their own bookmarks without messing up yours. You can give them listening privileges only, the ability to use your credits to purchase books, or the ability to both buy and use credits.

To stretch your monthly credits even further, visit the deals section of the website. It offers a rotating selection of audiobooks you can get at the rate of two for one credit. Or if you prefer to buy your books a la carte, there’s an assortment of audiobooks priced at $10 or less.

17. Scribd

The online subscription service Scribd (not to be confused with the free service Scribl) offers both audiobooks and e-books in addition to magazines, legal documents, and even sheet music. You can’t purchase books directly through Scribd, but you can read or listen to as many books as you want. The monthly fee is just $9.99 per month after a 30-day trial.

In addition to its basic membership, Scribd offers a $12.99-per-month Scribd + NYT bundle. It includes all of Scribd’s regular features plus a basic digital access subscription to The New York Times. For people who already read the Times, this costs about 25% less than subscribing to both services separately.

18. Chirp

Chirp is a store where you can buy audiobooks at dramatically reduced prices. Unlike subscription services, it doesn’t charge a monthly fee, though you must sign up for membership to purchase books.

Chirp is best known for its limited-time deals. Authors and publishers temporarily list their books on the site at discounts of up to 95% to attract new readers. Members can sign up for personalized emails to learn about limited-time deals on books that match their interests. In addition to its special discounts, Chirp offers low everyday prices on other audiobooks.

Each book you buy on Chirp goes into your digital library on the site. You can stream them from the site, through the free iOS or Android app, or through any Alexa-enabled device. You can also download your books for future listening. Any book you buy is yours to keep permanently.


Final Word

Becoming a regular audiobook listener doesn’t mean giving up on the printed word. You can continue to curl up with a good book for an hour before bed, pull up an e-book on your phone in a doctor’s waiting room, or read aloud to your kids every evening.

But by adding audiobooks to the mix, you can make more time for reading. You can tune into an audiobook whenever you’re stuck in traffic or doing mindless tasks like household chores. Time that would otherwise go to waste can suddenly become an opportunity to learn, expand your imagination, or just enjoy sinking into a good story.

Source: moneycrashers.com

16 Tips to Save Money on Back-to-School Supplies & Shopping List

Back-to-school time has become its own shopping season, falling just behind back-to-college and Christmas in terms of family expenditures, according to the National Retail Federation. In 2020, the NRF reported record back-to-school spending, with parents spending an average of $789.49 per child, up from the previous record of $696.70.

And that’s just for elementary through high school. If you have college students in your family, the NRF estimates you’ll spend about $1,059.20 on supplies. (But you can access your own list of college back-to-school saving tactics.)

That’s almost as much as an average mortgage payment, and each year, costs continue to outpace inflation. Multiply this amount by two or three (or five) children, and it’s easy to see why many parents start sweating in mid-July, when the barrage of back-to-school fliers and ads start appearing.

But these back-to-school saving tips can take some of the stress out of the season.

How to Save on Back-to-School Supplies

If you’re stressed out about this upcoming drain on your bank account, take a deep breath. There are plenty of ways to avoid spending $1,000 per child at the start of the new school year. If you start early and plan ahead, you can put your kids back in the classroom for a fraction of this amount.

Keep in mind that back-to-school sales start a bit earlier each year. Staples now puts out its back-to-school section in late June, with many products already on sale to entice parents to buy.

You can save by purchasing one or two things at a time throughout the summer. Spreading your purchases out can also prevent a significant hit to your monthly budget.

1. Do a Supply Sweep

You probably already have plenty of last year’s school supplies you can reuse this year. Closets, desk drawers, and basement bins could hold hidden treasures that can save you money.

Start by rounding up all of the office and school supplies you already own. Put them in a central location, such as a plastic bin or the dining room table, so you can make a list of what you have and a shopping list of what you need.

Keep this list in your purse or car to avoid forgetting it when you shop for school supplies. You can also take a picture of your current supplies to refresh your memory when you’re shopping.

Next, go through your kids’ closets and start sorting. Donate or toss clothing kids have outgrown and timeworn clothing. Once you complete this supply sweep, you’ll have a clearer picture of what you need to buy. Ideally, the sweep will prevent you from buying something you already have on hand.

2. Plan a Supply Swap

Coordinate with your friends and neighbors and host a school and office supply swap before you head out shopping.

For instance, you might have reams of loose-leaf paper you bought on sale, but you’ll never use it all. Meanwhile, your friend might have several packs of pencils or a pencil case they’d be willing to trade for some of that paper.

Talk to friends and family members with school-aged children and see if they have extra supplies they’d be interested in trading.

3. Shop at Garage Sales and Thrift Stores

Garage sales can be a treasure trove of deals for back-to-school supplies. You can find backpacks, gently used shoes, clothing, and even school supplies there for a song.

Start hitting up garage sales for everything you need. It takes time, but you can score some incredible bargains by doing so, and it’s an economical way to save money on back-to-school clothes. You can also ask friends and family members to keep an eye out for you when they shop at garage sales.

There are fantastic bargains at thrift stores too. Clothing is very affordable there, and many stores run sales specifically for parents shopping for back-to-school items. But start early. Other shoppers will have picked over the selection by the first day of school.

Your best bet is to start your kids clothes shopping in the middle to end of July when there are plenty of clothes to choose from. Of course, if you let them wear them immediately, the novelty will have worn off by the first day of school. Put these clothes away until school starts so they’ll feel brand-new to your kids.

4. Check Consignment Shops

Consignment shops are excellent places to find gently used clothing because they’ve already vetted everything they offer. So unlike at the thrift store, you don’t have to paw through blouses from 1975 to find designer or name-brand clothing on a shoestring budget.

If your area has several consignment shops, find out if they’re planning a late-summer sale. Many consignment shops organize a seasonal sale, especially during the back-to-school shopping season. Several shops might even host a mega-sale in one location, pooling all their resources together.

You can find consignment shops in your area by Googling “kids consignment stores near me.”

5. Check the Dollar Store

You can get some incredible bargains on school supplies at the dollar store, where you can find basic supplies like notebooks and pencils as well as classroom supplies like facial tissue and sanitizer, all at bargain prices.

Start shopping in the summer months because you never know what products stores will order or how long they’ll stay in stock. Just note that there are some things you should never buy at the dollar store, such as batteries and tape.

6. Shop Through Rakuten

Online cash-back shopping venue Rakuten acts like a shopping gateway. The website allows you to shop online or through the app at over 2,500 major stores and brands like Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Gap, Barnes & Noble, Dell, Kohl’s, DSW, and Macy’s, all while giving you cash back on your purchases.

How much you earn typically varies from 1% to 6% of your total purchase price. However, many retailers offer short-term rebates of 10% or more and exclusive sales for Rakuten shoppers.

Rakuten says its 12 million users have earned over $1 billion in cash back using the mobile coupon app, which they can then use to buy back-to-school supplies.

See our Rakuten review for more information.

7. Install the Capital One Shopping Browser Extension

Capital One Shopping is a useful browser extension to have when you’re shopping online. For example, each time you’re browsing on Amazon, Capital One Shopping searches hundreds of other retailers to see if there’s a better price available.

They also automatically apply any available coupon codes at checkout to help you save money. Wikibuy has a database of thousands of retailers, so this extension can likely help you find a better deal somewhere.

Read our Capital One Shopping review for details.

8. Shop on a Sales Tax Holiday

Many states have sales tax holidays when shoppers can buy merchandise without paying sales tax. On these days, you can pick up clothing, computers, and school supplies tax-free.

Find the date (or dates) of your state’s sales tax holiday and determine what products are eligible online. Most states have a sales tax holiday during the first week of August, although some have tax holidays in July or toward the end of August.

9. Follow Stores on Twitter & Facebook

Many companies send their loyal followers coupon links and advance notice of sales. If you plan to bargain-hunt this year, monitor your favorite stores’ Twitter and Facebook feeds to find deals.

You can follow these popular stores on Twitter, for example:

10. Compare Prices

Most parents have to buy some sort of electronics for their kids for school. You can save on these by keeping an eye on Amazon’s ever-changing prices.

The website CamelCamelCamel tracks the price range history for every product sold on Amazon, including historical highs and lows. You can sign up for price change alerts for specific products and get a notification every time their prices change.

There are also plenty of apps to help you save money by comparing prices across different retailers. One is ShopSavvy, which is available for iOS and Android devices.

To use ShopSavvy, simply scan the bar code of the product you’re interested in, and the app tells you if a lower price is available at another store or website. For the app to work, you also need to download a bar code scanner, which you can get for both iOS and Android devices.

Last, don’t forget to look to your grocery store or neighborhood drugstore for bargains on school supplies. Check local circulars starting in midsummer. You might be surprised to find that some products are actually cheaper when they’re on sale at these stores than at big-box stores.

Additionally, many stores have reward or loyalty programs that enable you to earn points or other loyalty currency when purchasing goods there.

11. Focus on Saving on Big-Ticket Merchandise

When you’re back-to-school shopping, it’s easy to get paranoid about the cost of glue at Target compared to Walmart. We’ve all been there. But while it’s vital to watch prices on small items, you only have so much time and energy.

You’re better off using this limited time and energy to save money on bigger-ticket products, especially electronics like computers and tablets. Saving $300 on your high schooler’s new laptop means more to your budget than saving $5 on your middle schooler’s lunch box or 25 cents on a bottle of glitter glue.

Focus on saving money on your most significant expenses first, and let the glue take care of itself.

12. Make Your Kids Work for Their Supplies

What do you do if you’ve set spending limits for specialty or high-end goods, and your kids still clamor for expensive back-to-school gear? Make them go to work.

Assign them chores or send them out into the neighborhood to earn the money they need. My parents did this to me, and I lived through the experience. It also made me examine in a very real way how badly I wanted to buy some “must-have” gear.

Most of the time, when I had to spend my own money on something — money I had to use my own hours to earn — I discovered I didn’t really want it as badly as I thought I did.

13. Save on Uniforms

School uniforms used to be the hallmark of attending an elite private school. These days, many charter schools require students to wear uniforms, and The New Yorker reports that one-fifth of all public schools now require a uniform.

And these uniforms can be costly, with prices ranging from $150 to $250 or more for a mix-and-match wardrobe. However, there are plenty of ways to save money on school uniforms.

One strategy is to see if your school has a uniform exchange. During the year, some schools ask parents to donate any uniform pieces their children have outgrown. They then offer these to parents on a tight budget, often for free or for a small donation.

Another way to save is to check local thrift stores. For example, if your child’s uniform includes basic navy or khaki pants, you can usually find them in high quantities at a thrift store or consignment shop.

Last, check retailers like Gap and Old Navy. Both companies sell school uniforms and often run sales during the middle to end of summer. You might also find better deals if you shop in the early summer when most parents aren’t yet thinking about buying uniforms for the upcoming school season.

14. Hold Off on New Clothing

Every child wants new clothes when they head back to school. And while retailers do put clothing on sale for back to school, Kristin Cook, managing editor of price-tracking site Ben’s Bargains, told Consumer Reports before school starts isn’t the best time to buy a new wardrobe for your kids. Prices typically go down in September after the big clothes-buying rush is over.

A better strategy is to buy one new outfit for your kids to wear on the first day and then do most of your shopping when prices drop further in September or October.

Another way to save is to scour thrift stores and consignment shops. If you live near a larger city or are willing to travel, you can often find high-quality clothing at dirt-cheap prices there.

15. Save on School Sports and Activities

You have a daughter who wants to play softball and soccer, another daughter who wants to join the school band, and a son who wants to play hockey and baseball. You’re looking at a potential investment of $10,000 or more in fees, instruments, and equipment for this year alone.

But don’t start hyperventilating just yet. There are plenty of ways to save money on extracurricular activities for your kids.

First, think about limiting your children to one after-school activity apiece. By limiting their choices, you allow them to focus on what they’re most interested in. That also forces them to make a choice, and when they take ownership of that choice, they’ll likely feel more dedicated to what they’re doing and really put their heart into it.

UC Berkeley’s Greater Good cites a 2014 paper published by the American Psychological Association and a 1999 study published in the Review of General Psychology among the “mountain of research” proving teens who have the freedom to make their own decisions tend to be more self-driven and have greater self-discipline.

Sticking to one activity will also help you avoid having an overscheduled child and give them more time for academics, family time, and friends.

If you’re looking to save money on sports equipment, one strategy is to buy used. You can find used gear on SidelineSwap, where you can also sell your own equipment once your child has outgrown what they’re currently using. Locally, you can usually find some bargains at Play It Again Sports.

If you’re looking to save money on music lessons or band participation, your best bet is buying or renting a used instrument. You can search on Music Go Round for used instruments listed on the site and instruments listed locally in your area. You can also look on Craigslist and eBay.

16. Just Say No

Going back-to-school shopping with your kids can be a fun bonding experience. It can also add hundreds of dollars to your shopping bill if you cave to their requests for designer jeans and a new backpack.

To save money, tell your kids before you leave the house that you’re sticking to the school list and won’t consider any extras while you’re out. Of course, I have two kids of my own, so I know saying no isn’t always easy.

A better idea might be to go school shopping on your own. Consider buying your kids just what they might need on their very first day, and while they’re in school, you can hit the stores to knock out the rest of the list by yourself. Not only is it less stressful, but you’ll also likely save more money.


Final Word

Few parents want to think about shopping for the coming school year, especially amid high summer. But back-to-school shopping can creep up on you quickly, so it pays to start shopping early.

That way, you can take advantage of every deal and coupon that comes your way. And stocking supplies slowly can help ease the impact on your monthly budget.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Tablo Dual HDMI OTA DVR: Watch And Record Live TV

Several years ago my family was looking to cut the cord on cable TV to save some money.

At the time we were looking at a variety of over-the-air DVRs that we could buy that would allow us to record all of our favorite broadcast television programming.

A commenter on this site recommended that we check out the Tablo TV over-the-air DVR from Nuvvyo.  We reached out to Nuvvyo, and they were kind enough to send out their original 2 tuner network DVR. 

We did a full review of that device, and in the end we were so impressed with it that we kept it as our main over-the-air DVR and live TV streaming device.  We’ve had it now for almost 7 years, and it’s still going strong. In short, we love it!

This month I heard from the folks over at Nuvvyo wondering if I’d like to do a review of one of their newer HDMI DVRs, and I jumped at the chance.  

So today, we’ll be looking at a full unboxing of the new Tablo Dual HDMI OTA DVR.

Tablo Dual HDMI OTA DVR
Tablo Dual HDMI OTA DVR

Quick Summary

  • OTA DVR with direct HDMI connection.
  • 2 tuner DVR with live TV grid guide.
  • Stream live TV to secondary TV.
  • Expandable storage up to 8TB.
  • Automatic Commercial Skip option.

Unboxing The Tablo Dual HDMI Over-The-Air DVR

So what does the Tablo Dual HDMI OTA DVR come with in the box?  Here’s a complete list: 

  • Tablo DUAL HDMI OTA DVR
  • Tablo Remote
  • AAA Batteries (x2)
  • Power Supply
  • 5′ Ethernet Cable
  • 5′ HDMI Cable
  • Quick Start Guide

The only things that are not included with the device, that you will need to buy separately, include:

  • A 1TB to 8TB USB hard drive (for recording shows or pausing live TV).
  • An ATSC HDTV antenna, for bringing in the broadcast signal in your area. 

Here’s a quick unboxing of the Tablo Dual HDMI DVR.

Tablo Dual HDMI OTA DVR Box

The Tablo Dual HDMI comes in a nicely designed box that lists all of the device’s features and benefits.  It is HDMI connected and also includes a remote, unlike previous Tablo devices. It also includes an HDMI cable, and a network cable to hook it up to the internet for downloading TV guide data, firmware updates, cover art, etc.

Tablo Dual HDMI OTA DVR Back Of Box

The back of the box shows what you’ll need to get started, and how the device is setup once you unbox it. 

Here’s a first look at everything included in the box.

Tablo Dual HDMI DVR box contents

The Tablo box includes the Dual HDMI DVR device, a remote control, power cord, batteries for the remote, HDMI cable and a network cable.

The device itself is pretty small. It has vented air holes on the top, a small blue LED light, and a small IR port on the front.

Tablo Dual HDMI DVR

The back of the device has a power port, networking port, HDMI port, USB port for the hard drive and an antenna connection.

Tablo Dual HDMI DVR back of device

The device itself is pretty small, coming in at just under 1.5 inches in height, and just over 5 inches in length and width.

Tablo Dual HDMI DVR top of device

This is one of the first Tablo devices to include a remote control. All of the other DVRs Nuvvyo make are network devices that are controlled either by the app on the mobile device, or by that particular device’s remote (like Fire TV or Roku).  In this case this device is meant to be hooked up directly to a TV, and as such it includes a remote for Navigating the Tablo DVR interface.

Tablo Dual HDMI DVR remote control

Below are the cables included in the box. You’ll need them when setting up your device. You’ll plug it directly into your TV’s HDMI port, and to the ethernet port if you have one available.

Tablo Dual HDMI DVR cables

Tablo Dual HDMI Device Specs & Features

So just how big is the Tablo Dual HDMI DVR device?

  • Size: Dual & Quad HDMI DVR: Height: 1.45″, Width: 5.31″, Depth: 5.15″.
  • Weight: Dual Tuner: 228 g or 8 oz. Quad Tuner: 230 g or 8 oz. 

When compared with the existing original Tablo device we already have, it’s about 1.5″ inches smaller in width.

The specs have also gotten better with more memory and a better processor. Here are a few of the specs for the new Dual HDMI device.

  • 2 ATSC digital tuners. (4 tuners in the Quad device)
  • 1 HDMI 2.1 port to connect to your TV.
  • 10/100/1000 Gigabit ethernet port.
  • 1 USB 3.0 port supporting up to 8TB in storage.
  • 1 Coax antenna port.
  • WiFi included: 802.11ac dual band WiFi with MIMO.
  • Upgradeable firmware.
  • Quad Core processor.
  • 2GB RAM.
  • 16 GB Flash.
  • Audio Format: Stereo (PCM) audio or AC3 Passthrough (5.1).
  • Video Format: MPEG2.

Tablo Dual HDMI DVR Features & Functionality

So what are some things that the Tablo Dual HDMI can do? 

  • Watch, pause and record live over-the-air TV.
  • Record up to 2 shows at the same time.
  • Schedule recordings (either manually or by using their premium guide service).
  • View and manage existing recordings, by show or movie title. 
  • Skip commercials, either manually, or with their premium add-on “Automatic Commercial Skip” feature.
  • Limited whole home streaming to secondary TVs using apps on compatible Smart TVs,  Roku, Amazon Fire TV, & Android TV.
  • View and record series of TV shows, movies, sporting events.
  • View 14 days of rolling Live TV guide and show information (with add-on TV Guide data service) or 24 hours worth without premium subscription.
  • Watch TV in the native MPEG2 – 1080i HD broadcast video quality.

Setting Up Your Tablo Dual HDMI Device

Setting up the Tablo Dual HDMI device is relatively simple.  Here’s a quick video from the folks at Tablo, describing the process from start to finish.

Connecting The Tablo Dual HDMI To Your TV

To get started you’ll just put the batteries in the remote, and set the Tablo device near your TV so that it can be plugged in via HDMI.

Next, place your antenna in an optimal location and plug your antenna’s coax cable into the coax port on the back of your Tablo.

Your USB hard drive should be connected next. Make sure to place it next to your Tablo, and not on top. If placed on top it may restrict airflow which can cause it to overheat.

Tablo Dual HDMI connections

Next, plug one end of the HDMI cable into your TV’s open HDMI port, and the other end into the Tablo.

The ethernet cable can be plugged in next, if a hardwired connection is available. If not, then you’ll need to set up a WiFi connection during the setup process.

Lastly, you’ll plug in the power adapter. Once plugged in the Tablo Dual HDMI will turn on and the blue LED on top will light up.

Setting Up The Device

Once the device is connected and the TV is turned on the Tablo will begin the setup process.

First it will ask you to connect the device to the Internet. If you want to connect it via WiFi, it will ask you to select the correct network and enter your password.  

Once your device is online it will check for firmware updates and ask if you’d like to install them. In my case it did find an update, which I agreed to install. 

Once any firmware updates are installed it will take you through the process of connecting your TV antenna, and entering your zip code where the device will be used.

Tablo Dual HDMI DVR setup process

Once the device has scanned for and found all of the channels in your location you can choose which ones you want to appear in your TV grid guide. I typically leave the ones with a bad signal off of my channel list.

Once the channels are added it will walk you through formatting the hard drive to get it ready for use with the Tablo.

Tablo Dual HDMI DVR setup process part 2

Once the hard drive is formatted the device is ready to go.  

Every new device comes with a 30-day trial of the TV Guide Data Service, as well as the premium Automatic Commercial Skip subscription.

Things You Will Need To Use Tablo DVR

As you’ve probably already gathered from the above setup of the device, everything you need to get started is not included in the box. There are a couple of things you’ll need to purchase or have already to complete the package.

  • Digital ATSC antenna and coax cable.
  • USB-connected portable hard drive (USB 2.0 or 3.0, 1 TB to 8 TB in size). See their recommended drives post.

If you don’t already have an antenna or USB hard drive you will have to purchase those separately.  

When I was setting up this device I already had an antenna that we have been happy with, the Mohu Curve (Now called Mohu Arc). We tend to recommend the antennas from Mohu as they’re American made and they have always worked well for us.

We also purchased a 2TB Seagate portable hard drive on Prime Day for about $30 or so. 

So all in, you could expect to spend anywhere from $50-100 for a good antenna and a decent sized hard drive if you don’t already have spares laying around.

Using The DVR

Using the Tablo Dual HDMI device is simple. Just fire up your TV, and turn it to the correct input. You’ll see the main screen for the device where you can watch Live TV, view recordings, search for shows, or change device settings.

Tablo Dual HDMI app screen

Typically when you turn the device on it will go directly to the “Prime Time” shows tab, but in the settings you can tell it which tab it should default to on startup.  We set ours to go directly to the “Recordings” tab. 

The different sections in the app will allow you to search for shows, watch live TV or manage your scheduled recordings or already recorded shows. Here are the different sections, and what you can expect to find in each.

Tablo Dual HDMI DVR Live TV grid guide
  • Live TV: This tab shows you a Live TV grid guide that lists currently live and upcoming TV shows. By clicking on a particular TV show or movie you can get a synopsis of the program, record an upcoming show, set a series to record, and more.
  • Recordings: This tab will show you a listing of your already recorded TV shows and movies so you can watch them.
  • Prime Time: This will give a listing of prime time TV shows scheduled for the next 2 weeks in your market.
  • TV Shows:  A listing of all the TV shows in your market for the next 2 weeks. 
  • Movies: A listing of all the Movies in your market for the next 2 weeks. 
  • Sports: A listing of all the sporting events in your market for the next 2 weeks. 
  • Scheduled: This shows you a listing of shows you have scheduled to record, along with any conflicts that might arise if more than two shows are set to record at the same time.
  • Settings: This is where you can change your device’s settings including device name, network settings, editing channel lineups, screensaver settings, setting up the remote, scheduling settings, and updating guide data if you think it needs a refresh.

Watching live TV on the Tablo Dual HDMI is pretty simple. Just turn on the TV and device, go to the “Live TV” tab, and click on the channel you want to watch.  

If you want to know more about a live or upcoming show, or schedule a recording, just click on the show itself in the grid, and then click on “Info”.  A window will pop open with full details about each episode, as well as allowing you to schedule a recording for all episodes of the show, or only new episodes. If you pay for the premium TV Guide Data, you can also set recordings to start early or end late (for sports for example), or set it to keep only a certain number of the most recent episodes.  We use that feature to record one news station’s 3 most recent local newscasts.

Tablo Dual HDMI DVR set a recording

Once you have recorded a show it shows up in the “Recordings” tab, listed in alphabetical order. You can sort your recorded shows by most recent recordings, sports, TV shows or movies. 

Once you click into a show it will have a listing of all the recorded episodes by season and episode number, along with a description of the show generally, and each episode individually.  

For example, I enjoy watching the old Lawyer crime drama Perry Mason. I got hooked on it while watching it with my mother as a child. We have 277 episodes taped over 9 seasons of the show, all listed nicely by episode number within the interface. Just select the play button on the episode you want to watch, and you’re set to go.

Tablo Dual HDMI Series Data And Recording

Tablo Dual HDMI Cost

There are a couple of things to take into account when it comes to the cost of the Tablo DVR. First, there is the cost of the device itself, and then there is the cost of the premium subscriptions for TV Guide Data Service and Premium Service (Automatic Commercial Skip). Personally I think the TV Guide Data Service subscription, which gives you 2 weeks of live TV data and other advanced DVR features is crucial. I wouldn’t love Tablo as much as I do without it.  

The Automatic Commercial Skip we do without because it’s almost as easy just to fast forward through commercials viewing the video thumbnails.

Here is the pricing for the Tablo devices, and for the premium subscriptions.

Tablo Device Cost

There are currently 6 Tablo devices that you can purchase with varying features, onboard storage, connectivity and number of tuners.  They include the 2 HDMI connected devices:

  • Tablo Dual HDMI OTA DVR: $149.99
  • Tablo Quad HDMI OTA DVR: $199.99

There are 4 network-connected Tablo devices, all with either 2 or 4 tuners.  Two of them also have some limited onboard storage.

  • Tablo Dual Lite OTA DVR: $149.99
  • Tablo Dual 128GB OTA DVR: $169.99
  • Tablo Quad OTA DVR: $199.99
  • Tablo Quad 1TB OTA DVR: $239.99

The device we received and are reviewing cost $149.99. 

NOTE: The Tablo online shop often sells refurbished Tablo units for a big discount. Our original networked Tablo was a refurbished unit when we received it. It’s going on 7 years strong now. Recommend checking it out if you’re looking for a cost savings.

Tablo Subscription Costs

There are two service subscriptions available for all devices, TV Guide Data Service and Premium Service (Automatic Commercial Skip). Both services have monthly or annual billing plans.  

So what do you get with the TV Guide Data Service? 

  • 14 days of guide data
  • Rich cover art
  • Series and episode synopses
  • Schedule recordings by time, episode or series
  • Schedule full series recordings
  • Advanced recording settings
  • Filters to view content by type, genre, etc.

In my mind the full featured guide is well worth the cost, and I sprang for the lifetime subscription years ago (although it was a bit cheaper then). Unfortunately the HDMI devices don’t have the option of a lifetime subscription currently.

TV Guide Data Cost

So what is the cost?

  • Monthly: $4.99
  • Annual: $49.99
  • Lifetime: $179.99 for network connected devices only.

If you choose to forgo the guide data subscription, you’ll only get 24 hours of a basic live TV grid guide, and scheduling programs will be a manual process similar to an old fashioned VCR, setting it to record at a certain time and day.

Premium Service (Automatic Commercial Skip) Cost

There is a “Premium Service” add-on that gives you Automatic Commercial Skip functionality. It also has monthly or annual payment plans.

  • Monthly: $2.00 
  • Annual: $20.00

There is no lifetime plan for commercial skip. 

Tablo Dual HDMI Pros And Cons

So what are the pros and cons of this particular Tablo device?

Pros

There is a lot to like about the Tablo devices, and in particular about the Dual HDMI device.

  • Direct HDMI connection to your TV, which is great if you mainly watch on 1 TV.  
  • Watch TV in the high-quality native MPEG2 – 1080i HD, not a compressed stream.
  • Ability to expand storage up to 8TB.
  • Watch, pause or record live TV.
  • Stream to other compatible TVs in the home.
  • Live TV grid guide that gives rich information about every TV show, movie or sporting event, including cover art.
  • Ability to record entire series of shows, only new airings, or record all of a certain show.
  • The HDMI versions of Tablo DVR comes with a remote.
  • 5.1 Surround Sound support.
  • Ethernet or WiFi connections available.

Cons

There are a couple of things with the HDMI connected Tablo devices that are less than ideal.

  • No out-of-home streaming to mobile devices, Tablo apps or computers for HDMI Dual or Quad devices. Only network connected Tablo devices have this functionality.
  • In-home streaming only via Fire TV, Roku or Android TV devices. No PC, Mac or mobile device streaming.
  • No option for lifetime TV guide subscription. You can only get that with the network connected devices.
  • No on-board storage, needs an external hard drive. 

The cons of the HDMI devices are easily overcome by just buying one of the network connected devices as they don’t have the same limitations.  If you’re going to be watching on more than 1-2 TVs, I’d recommend doing that.

Tablo Dual HDMI – A Capable DVR For Cord Cutters

As a long time owner of the network connected Tablo over-the-air DVR, I’m a big fan of their products.

The Dual HDMI DVR that we received to review has a lot to like about it. It has a lot of the same great over-the-air DVR functionality as the originals, but it also comes with the ability to connect the device directly to your TV via HDMI, as well as giving you a remote to control the device. It also allows you to watch the TV broadcast in the native MPEG2 broadcast signal, ensuring the highest quality video stream.

The only downside for some is that the Dual HDMI device doesn’t offer out-of-home streaming, and only offers limited at-home network streaming. If you have a lot of TVs and devices to stream to at your house and on-the-go, it may make this device a non-starter. You may want to look at one of Nuvvyo’s network connected devices.

On the other hand if you’re using this device only on 1 or 2 TVs, or as a secondary device at a cabin or lake home, it might be just what you’re looking for. 

Check out Nuvvyo’s full line of over-the-air Tablo DVRs at their site. We highly recommend their products, and will continue using them as our main over-the-air DVRs.

Tablo Dual HDMI DVR

Source: biblemoneymatters.com