I have been terrible about posting (note last post in March). So, If I’m not going to be posting 23 Things stuff (soon, sooooon) I’ll post some other stuff. I have been on a personal mission to decrease debt, increase savings, and save money where ever I can. So here’s some goodies I’ve discovered:

AAA & DirecTV-

If you are a AAA of Northern New England member, you get $10/month off of your DirecTV bill for 2 years. So, if you have these things and are not using them together, get on it. Also, a AAA membership costs $50/year, but will save you $240 over two years. I asked DirecTV if you needed to renew your membership in AAA to get eh 2nd years benefits and they said no, they don’t really check it, and the discount applies for when you asked for it without contingency. That’s math I can get down with.

DirecTV and my House –

Because we cashed in on a super good deal, we switched to DirecTV and are now paying half what we were with DishNetwork. Plus they give you $20 rebate just for signing up for paperless billing and auto debits. Plus we now have promo cards that get us and whoever uses them $50 buck plus all their free install stuff. Plus, it would appear that their basic package is better and cheaper than DishNetwork’s. So, for all you TV junkies who feel rediculous spending what you spend on it, let me know, I’ve got promo codes at least. And if you wait till they do another $23/mo. off for one year promo, you too could be paying under $30/mo. for Project Runway and Golden Girls Reruns! Finally, and this has not been confirmed by anyone yet, but our installer said that they are so competitive, they will buy out your contract with another service if you call them up using the promo card and say roughly, “I would love to switch, but I’m locked in a contract with so and so, is there anything you all can do to get me out of it so I can enjoy your service.” Please, if you try this, let me know if it actually flies. It can’t hurt to ask.

LiveSearch by MSN –

Evidently Microsoft is getting so competitive in search, they will pay you to do comparison shopping on their LiveSearch site. Also, in my humble opinion, it’s a better set up for comparison shopping than the Google and Yahoo equivalents. Mind you, I haven’t taken advantage of this because I keep forgetting, but I’ve read in other people’s blogs that it works.

RetailMeNot –

This is the most awesome thing ever. RetailMeNot is a social networking site for money saving coupon codes. Seriously. But you don’t have to join the network to use it. You just search for a store and members will load up any coupon codes they get on their catalogs, in mailings, via email, and you can try to use them. In my experience, the coupon codes work about 75% of the time, which is pretty good. Also, if you are a Firefox devotee, you can install their RetailMeNot Add-On and whenever you are on a site that RetailMeNot has coupon codes for, it will tell you right in the browser so you don’t have to remember to go to the site. I got that little piece of information on LifeHacker Top 10: Top 10 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Saving Money and there are other widgets you can get, check out #3.

High Yield Online Savings Accounts-

I compared a bunch of these by Googleing the above phrase. It came down to ING Direct and HSBC Direct. ING Direct gives you a steady 3.00% interest rate and if you go through the right avenues, $25.00 to seed the account. The reference code I have for that benefit came from a mailing and is D284U…let me know if it works for you! If not, you can also click through from my favorite financial blog, I’ve Paid for this Twice Already… Her links say with a min. dep. of $250, my mailing didn’t. You let me know. I ultimately didn’t go with this because HSBC is offering a limited 3.50% APY that they keep extending (Now till 9/15) with no minimum to open. Either way, compare those rates to your banks savings accounts. It’s a no brainer.

Online Surveys for Cash –

Firstly, if you don’t spend a lot of time on the internet, don’t bother. If you don’t like taking surveys, hide from the census taker, hang up on telephone surveyors, don’t bother. But, if you like the prospect of making a little bit of extra cash for very little actual work, this might be worth a try. I started out on the Paid Twice blog post about her experience with surveys for this too, and then gathered some others. I have the money from these deposit into my HSBC account and just earn me a little more. So far I’ve made $50 that I didn’t have before! Here’s my breakdown of the one’s I like:

  • MySurvey – I haven’t cashed in on this yet, but the surveys are short and the extra winning possibilities are generous. It’s a low impact engagement. If your interested, let me know and I’ll happily send you a referral, especially since I get extra points for referrals! I may get a button I can put on this website that you can click through, but for now I’ll have to email the referral to you.
  • Opinion Outpost – I’ve cashed out from these folks, and I qualify into a lot of their surveys. These are a little longer, but generally I find not too long. Again, if you’re interested, let me know and I’ll shoot you a referral.
  • Lightspeed Panel – Their surveys are fun, and sometimes you get to participate in product trials that crack me up. There is no referral program that I benefit from, so if you’re interested, go right through the link.
  • Vindale Research – This is a get paid to try out stuff, some free, some not. I like to try out new products and services, so this is a winner for me. Click through the link if you’re interested and I’ll get referral credit.

That’s probably plenty for now. I am a member of a bunch of others, and if you really want to know about all of them, just say the word. These are my favorites.

Cheapest Gas –

My fellas mom pointed this one out to us. MSN Autos Local Gas Price Finder will give you the cheapest to most expensive gas in your area so you can always get the best deal on gas. If finds it by zip code and is extremely accurate.

Okay, I’ve run out of steam. The point is that I like to save money, I actively hunt for this kind of stuff. Don’t say I never gave you anything!

I just read this post about the snowflaking method of debt reduction. I’m not going to summarize, it’s well worth clicking through to read the post:

Snowflaking – A Primer

This is kind of how I manage my debt, which I think is kind of good since I’ve never taken any advice on the matter. Though I did learn some good things to streamline the process. I think this is a marvelous way to deal with debt, even if you’re just a couple hundred in the hole but can’t seem to dig out.

It’s absolutely essential if, like me, you’re up around the $100,000 mark. Shocked, are you? Well, take that fancy undergrad education at $40,000 back before my mom and I really “got” the financial aid process. Tack on another $40,000 for that graduate degree that I had to fly to Illinois for three times a year for(and no, I wouldn’t change my mind and go to a cheaper school if I had it to do again. I knew what it would cost and it was worth every single penny of borrowed money). Add $10,000 car loan because I have to commute to work now, and $10,000 in credit card debt from moving all the freakin’ time, and voila…totally, desperately, depressingly unmanagable debt! But I have a smile on my face, why? Because I am paying it off right, and I can look at this woman’s numbers go down and figure that if it’s working for her, must be working for me too!

I especially like how honest she is about the numbers; she has a whole section dedicated to the exact amount of her debt and how it’s moving down. Americans in particular tend to be very secretive about our money. I honestly have never understood why. I wonder if it might something as simple as embarrassment, or competition. If nobody knows what you make or what you owe, then you have nothing to be ashamed of.

Also, let’s not forget how this tendancy is a huge advantage to employers, who basically rely on you being more worried about your co-workers knowing what you make than being worried about whether you are the victim of pay inequity. Is the price of having to admit what we make/spend really that high?