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12/12/17 Personal Finance , Saving #

The Best $10 I’ve Spent: Movie Pass

The Best $10 I’ve Spent: Movie Pass

My reporting instincts and wariness of questionable deals kicked in last summer when I heard about a movie pass that let you see a movie a day for only $10 a month.

In theory, you could see 30 movies in 30 days for 33 cents per movie. Just seeing one movie per week cost only $2.50 per movie. It has to be too good to be true, I thought, and I watched the mania over Movie Pass spread for a few months to see how it played out.

There must be a catch, and I was waiting for it. Would the company take customers’ money and not give that what it promised? Would their personal information be hacked from the site’s servers and sold to ID thieves? And, of course, could customers really see up to one movie per day for only $10?

The servers at Movie Pass were overwhelmed by the initial response of customers, and there were some reports that customer service wasn’t great and that the pass wasn’t working well.

After waiting a few months for the kinks to be worked out, I bought a Movie Pass in November, and so far it has worked great and is the best $10 I’ve ever spent. There have been a few problems, but nothing major, and I saw five movies in November: Thor, Murder on the Orient Express, Coco, The Justice League, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

December is about half over and this month I’ve seen Lady Bird, and Roman J. Israel, Esq. Saturday I’m going to see the new Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi, with a Movie Pass ticket I bought earlier. I’m taking the last two weeks of December off and should see at least three more movies with the pass, especially with some top movies set to come out Dec. 22.

I don’t expect every month to be as full of top-notch movies, but just going to two movies a month makes the pass worthwhile. Here’s how it works, and what I learned about it during almost two months of usage: Continue reading

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05/15/17 Saving #

Smart Ways to Save On Your TV Bill Right Now


Catching up on your favorite TV shows or tuning in to that eagerly awaited news program should not be overly expensive. Here are some great ways to cut the costs of your TV bill.

Check your broadband supplier

Many people use internet catch up services to watch TV, and this can be very handy for watching shows that you have missed.

Not all broadband providers offer the same value for money, however. Some may offer a cheap deal for the first few months in order to lure you in and then charge you high rates for the remainder of the year. Others may include hidden charges in your contract (for instance a penalty fee if you break your contract early due to moving house).

Shop around and see which providers offer the best deals. Simultaneously, make sure not to compromise on quality. It can be so frustrating when your TV programs stall or cut out completely due to poor quality broadband. If you like to stream a lot of high definition TV shows and films, it is a good idea to pay a little bit extra to get superfast broadband.

Cut out superfluous channels

Are you paying for TV channels that you never watch? This happens all too often, as TV companies encourage you to buy “packages.” These packages may contain some channels that you do want to watch and others that you don’t.

Doing a cull of the channels that you are signed up for could save you a lot of money – why should you pay for something that you do not use?

Cancel automatic renewals

Perhaps you signed up to pay for a TV channel because it had a programme on that you wanted to watch. TV providers often renew your subscription automatically on a monthly or yearly basis, though. This means that you could carry on paying for that channel even though the program that you were watching on it has now finished.

One of the key things about automatic renewals is that they can creep up on you – because your subscription is renewed automatically, you do not really notice the money leaving your bank account.

TV providers rely on the majority of their customers not wanting to make the effort to physically log into their account or make a phone call and cancel their subscriptions. But, this effort is worth it when it comes to saving money on your TV bill. Review the list of channels that you are signed up to and disable or cancel any automatic renewals. You could save a lot of money this way.

See shows are available elsewhere

If you do not mind waiting a bit, you can watch plenty of films and international TV shows via on-demand services such as Netflix and iTunes.

If so, it is often cheaper to use these services to pick and choose individual shows to watch than to subscribe to an entire channel.

Be conscious of what you’re spending

These simple tricks could save you hundreds of pounds a year if you are an avid TV fan. It is all about being conscious of how much you are spending — something that automatic subscriptions and cheap deals for newcomers to a service can discourage.

Ask yourself now which subscriptions need to be cancelled, and which companies are going to raise the prices of their services? Shop around for great value broadband deals (Broadband Choices is a good place to start if you are looking for a combination of cost effectiveness and fast broadband).

Be savvy about websites (legal of course!) that let you watch TV shows and films at a cheaper price than you would pay if you subscribed to a whole channel. All of these tips can be applied right now, whether that involves calling to cancel a subscription to a channel you no longer watch or comparing broadband companies.

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03/22/17 Saving , Travel #

5 Ways to Save on a Short Vacation

5 Ways to Save on a Short Vacation

I went to spring training in Arizona recently with some friends, and while it’s difficult to call four days away from home a real vacation, the short vacation still felt like a worthwhile one.

Four days off in a row is basically a long weekend, and it can be hard to justify the expense of a flight, hotel, rental car, meals, souvenirs and other expenses that often come with a vacation.

I’m a big baseball fan and a trip to spring training is worth the expense, but spending a lot of cash for four days of fun is still hard to justify. For example, spending $1,000 over four days is a lot more expensive per day — $250 — instead of over a week, though extra time will add to your cost. But my thought is if you’ve already spent the money on a flight somewhere, you might as well enjoy being there for more than a few days.

With some planning and the generous help of friends, I made the visit to Arizona an inexpensive trip. The financial tactics I used can be used for any trip, short or not, but can be especially helpful on a budget for a short trip.

Here are five ways to save on a short vacation:

Go where friends and relatives live

short vacationI have family and friends living in Arizona, and while I didn’t impose on them during this trip for a bed to crash on, some have invited my wife and I to stay in their homes if we’re ever in the area.

You never know if those invitations are sincere or not, but if they are, then three nights is probably the most amount of time you’d want to spend there for the sake of everyone. You want to be a good guest, and after three nights it can get difficult.

The high school friend who hosted us during this trip is an incredibly nice guy and has offered to let me stay at his house. On this trip I was traveling with two other friends, so there wasn’t room for all of us.

Still, he was nice enough to drive us around, and offered to let us use his family’s second car — which we declined. Luckily, we found a place to stay that was a short drive from his house. And that’s another area to see if a friend or family member who lives in the area you’re visiting can help you out in — transportation. Many people have second cars that sit idle all day, or you could use Lyft, Uber and public transportation. Continue reading

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02/08/17 Saving #

When is the Best Time of Year to Move?

When trying to figure out the best time of the year to move, you have to keep a couple things in mind.

The first is that virtually every Thousand Oaks moving company breaks the year down into two parts, the busy season and the slow season.

The second is that regardless of what time of the year you move the last week of a month is always the busiest, specifically on Thursdays and Fridays.

Being Flexible Can Save You Money

If you are trying to save yourself a little money, try to move during the slow season, which is fall and winter. Obviously, you might not have a lot of control of this aspect, but it is still worth mentioning.

Also, try to move at the start of the month or the middle of the month. If you are using a Pasadena moving company to help with your move, doing so during the first half of the month can ensure a higher degree of availability.

Take Advantage Of Storage Units

If you are a renter and have to be out of your current residence before you’re able to move into your new one, ask various Los Angeles and Ventura moving companies if they have any storage offers that could help simplify your move.

If the Simi Valley moving company you are working with doesn’t offer any type of storage units you can make use of, look for a storage company that is close to your new residence.

These storage sites typically offer discounted rates for your first month’s storage and you can store your belongings within the unit while you transition to your new residence.

Remember, there really isn’t a “best time of the year to move,” but hiring a professional Simi Valley moving company can make the process far easier.

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01/17/17 Saving #

Credit Unions vs. Big Banks? What You Should Think About in 2017

Do you sometimes wonder what the practical differences are between banks and credit unions? Whether you’re using the right one for the right services?

Banks and credit unions are both traditional financial institutions that arguably have more in common with each other than they have differences, but the things that do set them apart are significant.

This article will cover their similarities, what sets them each apart, and when one is typically better for your needs than the other.

For-Profit vs. Non-Profit

The most fundamental difference is that banks are set up as for-profit financial institutions while credit unions are non-profit. Banks are owned by investors. Credit unions are cooperatives and their customers are referred to as their “members” because the credit union is technically owned by all of them.

Many people feel that credit unions, on average, provide better customer support and that this is due to the fact that credit unions do not have outside investors to account to. Instead, they must account to their members, who are also their customers.

Who Can Join

Another difference is who can get an account or loan at each. Nearly anyone can become a customer at a traditional bank, although those with very poor credit or unpaid balances from other banks might have a difficult time opening a new account or getting a loan. However, credit unions don’t serve the general public like banks do. Continue reading

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Hi, I'm Aaron Crowe. Welcome to CashSmarter. I'm a personal finance freelance writer who enjoys spending my money wisely and using minimalism to make my money last longer while increasing income.