5 Ways to Save on the Costs of PC Repairs

Saving on the Costs of PC Repair

I will be the first to admit that I am technologically challenged. Even though I lived through the birth of the internet, it took me a long time to embrace new tech. Since I never had much interest in it, I never took any IT classes in high school or college. Perhaps my lack of exposure made me averse to it. However, I soon learned that if I didn’t keep up, I’d be overlooked in the job market. Furthermore, my ignorance left me vulnerable to overspending when I needed new devices and repairs. Here’s how my online education is helping me stay relevant and save on the costs of PC repairs.

5 Ways to Save on the Costs of PC Repairs

Whenever I approach a new challenge, I begin by reading. I try to learn as much as I can, especially before making a big purchase. Knowledge really is powerful. And, it can be a useful tool in helping you to save on the cost of PC repairs.

 1. Know What You’re Buying

The most immediate financial benefit is that you become a more informed buyer. It is much harder for someone to take advantage of you if you’ve done your homework. Once you know more about the different components and which specs matter most in your PC, you’ll have a better idea of what you’ll need. Additionally, you’ll know which questions to ask. Furthermore, you also learn which manufacturers and models to avoid.

Your primary purpose for the computer will also determine how much you’ll need to spend. Shopping around and talking to people can help you determine which computer best suits your needs and budget. Sites like Laptop vs Laptop can give you a summary and side-by-side comparison of specs and price points as well.

2. Prevent Overspending

Another reason I do my research is to prevent myself from overspending. When I bought my first laptop, I completely relied on the advice of an acquaintance. Not only did he talk me into buying a higher-end gaming computer I didn’t need, but he also tried selling me expensive warranties. As a college student, I could barely afford to eat, let alone pay for costly add-ons.

Furthermore, when I asked for recommendations, he would send me to his friends or associates where he would earn a commission. Had I done an online search instead for more affordable repair shops, I could have saved tons of money.

3. Tutorials for Troubleshooting

The most significant way that I have saved on the costs of PC repairs was by learning to do my own troubleshooting. Sure, turning your computer off and then back on again will solve many issues. However, there are times when you will need a little more finesse and in-depth knowledge to find the fix.

Although I could spend $50 at a PC repair shop to run a diagnostic for me, I prefer to try it myself first. A Google search of the problem will usually direct you to sites that show you how to troubleshoot it. You can also find step-by-step tech tutorials and YouTube videos that can walk you through common issues. If I had to estimate, I have been able to solve my own issues about 75% of the time.

Unfortunately, if a virus corrupts your files or you experience a serious hardware malfunction, there’s no way to fix it yourself. In these cases, it’s best to seek expert advice.

4. Bring Dinosaurs Back to Life

Another way I’ve used this knowledge for my financial benefit was by salvaging computers deemed outdated or beyond repair. Learning how to run my own diagnostic scans and optimize the startup menu has helped me bring some tech dinosaurs out of the graveyard.

While it doesn’t work every time, it has saved us thousands of dollars over the years. For example, my husband invested in a really nice computer during college. However, it was riddled with viruses and malware. He set it aside and forgot about it for several years until we came across it while cleaning out the office. By running a few scans, cleanups, and installing a new antivirus, I was able to revive it and pass it on to my niece. Not only did we get more use out of the initial investment, but it also saved someone else from buying a new laptop.

5. Ask for Recommendations

Although I was ignorant in the beginning, I have learned a lot about basic PC maintenance and repair. While online tech libraries provided a wealth of information, I learned even more by talking to people and asking friends for help. I embraced the fact that I was a novice, and stopped worrying about asking stupid questions.

Most people were happy to answer them and talk shop. They directed me to the best resources, advised me on programs worth investing in, and offered second opinions on complex computer problems. Their recommendations have likely saved me thousands of dollars in unnecessary purchases and PC repair costs.

However, when I needed a professional, they also offered recommendations for PC repair shops in my area with a good reputation. On their suggestions, I have found competent techs who know what their doing, explain the process, and won’t rip you off. And really, you can’t put a price tag on finding a service provider you can trust.

Helpful Sites for Learning about PCs

For those who are starting out from the very beginning like I was, here are a few sites that helped me along the way.

  • YouTube – This was the first place I went for troubleshooting tutorials. If you type in your specific issue, you can usually find a video that will walk you through the process step by step. It’s a free resource, but you could spend hours watching videos to find what you need.
  • Bleeping Computer – I really like this site because it caters to users at any level. The layout is very organized and user-friendly, providing easy access to the glossary of terms, articles, tutorials, and forums. It also offers discounts for online courses through its site.
  • edX – I have used this site to take several college-level courses for free. they have offerings from universities around the world. You can choose general or specialized courses, and learn at your own pace. Best of all, it’s free unless you want to pay for the certification.

While it can be overwhelming to learn something new, it can also be liberating. You don’t have to become an expert, but a little information can go a long way towards saving you on the costs of PC repairs.

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7 Smart Reasons Why You Should Have 4 Bank Accounts

Smart Reasons Why You Should Have 4 Bank Accounts

This is a simple method designed to help people build their savings. Not only is it easy to follow, but it is also adaptable and applicable to all income levels. There are many reasons why you should have 4 bank accounts. However, the most obvious is that it is an easy way to help you gain control of your finances and your future.

What Is the 4 Bank Accounts System?

1. A Checking Account to Pay the Bills

Your first account should be a checking account to cover your basic living necessities. It is also the one that you should deposit your paycheck into if your employer cannot split it between multiple accounts.

The money that you put into this account should only be used to pay your recurring monthly bills. This includes housing fees (mortgage or rent), utilities, transportation, insurance, cell phone, groceries, etc. You should figure out the exact figure by tallying up your bills and ensuring you leave enough in the account to cover all your living expenses. Don’t forget to include payments that happen at less frequent intervals as well, such as property taxes.

Depositing your money in this account first guarantees that the money will be there, ready to use when bills come due. You can also automate payments to avoid late penalties as well. Since this checking account should only be used for bills, you won’t need a debit card for it. Not having one will help you avoid the temptation to use the funds for other things.

2. A Checking Account for All Your Other Expenses

Your second checking account will pay for everything else, like entertainment costs, shopping trips, gifts, and small splurges. Look at this account as spending for things you want, but don’t need. You’ll want a debit card for this account since this will be your primary expense account.

3. A Savings Account for Emergencies

Everyone needs a rainy day fund for life’s expenses that you can’t plan for such as car repairs, medical bills, or unemployment. Therefore, you should set aside money every month to create a safety net. This will help reduce the financial impact of large, unexpected expenses down the line. Experts suggest keeping a fund that could cover three to six months’ worth of expenses. However, this money is only intended for emergencies. So, you shouldn’t touch the account until you need it.

4. A Savings Account for Financial Goals

Your last bank account should be a savings account that is specifically dedicated for larger purchases like a car, a down payment on a house, or a vacation. You may view this as a savings account for your long-term desires. Or, you could use it as a retirement account. Either way, it helps you build savings for the future. Depending on how ambitious your savings goals are, you may want to create separate accounts for each one.

7 Reasons Why You Should Have 4 Bank Accounts

1. It forces you to look at your monthly expenses and create a budget.

Shockingly, many people have never learned how to create and live on a budget. However, setting up these different accounts forces you to categorize your expenses and calculate a figure of how much you spend each month. The 4 Bank Accounts System is an easy way to correct any imbalances and establish your financial goals.

2. The 4 Bank Accounts System prioritizes your expenses.

As you calculate your expenses, you must look at each one and decide which account it goes into. While you go through this process, you also qualify each item as a necessary or non-essential living expense. If you aren’t reaching your savings goals fast enough, it will also help you decide which ones you can do without to get there quicker.

3. Having a dedicated account ensures that your bills get paid first.

Since your account for living expenses is the first one to get funded, you never have to worry about running out of money at the end of the month. And, there is no risk of having your utilities turned off or not being able to afford groceries. If you set up automated payments, it helps you avoid late fees as well.

4. It will give you a clear picture of your spending habits.

One of the top reasons why you should have 4 bank accounts is because it highlights your spending habits. It neatly divides your finances into categories and allows you to see how much you spend each month on non-essential things. The process can also show you areas where you can reduce spending and help you live below your means.

5. Multiple bank accounts make it harder to spend money set aside for other goals.

You are less likely to make withdrawals or use an account that you don’t have a debit card for. So, it’s easier to resist temptation since the money is out of reach. Additionally, it makes you think about what you are spending your money on. The truth is that most people are unlikely to go to the trouble of transferring money for impulse buys. Therefore, it helps you spend money on things you don’t need.

6. You consistently work towards your financial goals without even thinking about it.

When you deposit the money directly into your accounts, you create the habit of putting your financial goals first. And, you don’t have the chance to spend it. Furthermore, compounding interest accelerates your savings goals even more.

You can simplify it even more if your employer can deposit your paycheck into multiple accounts. Then, your savings plan can become completely automated.

7. It teaches you how to manage your money.

The sad truth is that many of us never received a proper financial education. This is a contributing factor for why so many people struggle to save and get out of debt. One of the best reasons you should have 4 bank accounts is that it teaches you the fundamentals of saving money. Not only is the system is easy to understand, but it will also quickly establish good savings habits.

The Bottom Line

People have thought up tons of challenges and systems to help people save money. However, the 4 Bank Accounts System is one of the simplest and most straightforward that I have encountered. But, the system only works if you remain consistent. Whichever method you will stick with is the best one for you.

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10 Things You Shouldn’t Pay For

10 Things You Shouldn't Pay For

We are all guilty of spending money on things we don’t need. Although sometimes it is worthwhile to pay for the convenience, there are some things you shouldn’t pay for. Here are ten items that are costing you extra money.

10 Things You Shouldn’t Pay For

1. Water

Bottled water is one of the biggest wastes of money people have bought into. Each year Americans spend an estimated $100 billion on bottled water. Not only does it produce tons of waste and pollute the environment, but several quality tests show that it is just as safe as the tap water from your sink. America has some of the cleanest potable water in the world. So, save yourself a ton of cash and use a refillable water bottle instead.

2. Books

Books are another item you shouldn’t pay for. New books cost anywhere from $10 to $20 depending on whether you get the paperback or hard cover copy. Instead of buying new ones, I browse these free online resources or visit my library when I’m looking for new reading material. Some of my favorite novels have come to me from book exchanges with friends as well. There are endless ways to access free books. So, unless it’s a must-have in your library, you don’t need to spend extra money to find good books.

3. Mobile Apps

At one time or another, most of us have paid for downloadable apps. Most of my paid apps only cost a few bucks a month. However, once I found the free alternatives, I canceled this unnecessary expense. By avoiding these microtransactions, particularly in-game purchases, I saved money every month. It can be hard to resist spending a dollar or two here and there. But, simply remove your credit card information to also remove the temptation.

4. Cable TV

Cable TV is no longer considered a necessary expense. In fact, many would say it is becoming more obsolete as we get more online streaming options. Services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and YouTube have largely replaced cable TV. With bundled services and customized packages, you only pay for the shows you want to watch. So, you shouldn’t pay extra when you have better and cheaper options available.

5. Late Fees

Late fees are another expense you can completely avoid. With the ability to automate payments and set reminders, there is no reason you should incur late fees if you have the funds. You can schedule and manage alerts from your credit card, bank accounts, and monthly bills right from your phone. However, if you do overlook a payment and receive a late fee, most companies will waive the fee as a courtesy if it is only a one-time mistake. However, if you have a history of late payments or cannot pay the full amount, call the company and arrange a payment plan to avoid additional fees in the future.

6. Banking Fees

You shouldn’t have to pay to access your money. Therefore, banking fees are among the things you shouldn’t pay for. If your bank charges high ATM, maintenance, or overdraft fees, you may want to consider changing banks. However, you can easily avoid these pesky fees by using your bank’s ATMs and setting alerts on your accounts to notify you when balances are low. Mobile apps like Mint can also help keep track of your finances and offer free ways to help you better manage your money.

7. Credit Reports

Although you likely have seen several advertisements for paid services, you should never pay for your credit report. Simply go online and request your free ones at creditreport.com or ask your bank for your FICO score. There is no need to spend money on something that the law entitles you to. Every citizen can receive a free copy of their credit report from all three reporting bureaus every year. I prefer to stagger my requests to receive one every four months to better monitor my personal finances. Regular checks ensure that my information is safe and that there is no fraudulent activity with my accounts.

8. Newspapers and Magazines

With news available through TV, radio, satellite, and online, there is no need to spend money on newspapers or magazines. You’re also more likely to receive up-to-the-minute information through these sources since print media can’t keep up with breaking news. However, if you still want to find copies of your favorite periodicals, visit your local library or digital copies online.

9. Extended Warranties

Whenever you make a large purchase, the salesman will always offer to sell you an extended warranty from the manufacturer. Although you might be tempted to buy in, remember these companies only exist to generate profit. They exist to bring in more than they pay out. Furthermore, the extended warranty usually provides poor coverage that reduces payouts through the fine print. And, you will still have to pay deductibles as well. Unless there are higher probabilities of your purchases needing repairs, extended warranties are usually just another waste of money.

10. Car Leases

If you want to drive a new vehicle but can’t afford the price tag, car leases can be very attractive. It may seem like a good deal if they offer low monthly payments, but it will actually cost you more in the long run. Unless you decide to buy it once the lease is up, you must return the car with no benefits of ownership. Moreover, dealerships limit your annual mileage and ability to customize your car. However, you will still be on the hook for any damage and repairs to the vehicle. Leasing a car gives you all the responsibility of owning a vehicle with none of the benefits.

Tracking your finances is crucial to your long-term goals. So, it is important to review your spending on a regular basis and adjust your budget. So, if you are looking for ways to save money, cutting out these unnecessary expenses could save you significant chunk of change each month.

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How to Live Below Your Means

With rising prices and ever increasing consumer demands, it becomes more challenging for many individuals to live below their means. Credit card bills, keeping up with the Joneses, and other unnecessary expenses are among some of the reasons it is exceedingly hard to stick to a budget. Some find themselves unable to spend less than the amount of money they are able to make each month. Here are a few suggestions to help you live below your means and improve your financial health.

Living Below Your Means
Living Below Your Means

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Blue Apron Free Trial Review

Blue Apron Free Trial Review

Let’s be honest, many of us lack the time or the money to cook unique, cost-efficient meals today.  Whether you are a couple or a family, it is sometimes easiest to just eat out.  Eating out on a regular basis can get very expensive.  So, it’s easy to see how meal delivery services have become so popular, especially with their attractive introductory offers. I recently received a Blue Apron free trial.  I was eager to try and cook my way through a new and adventurous meal, something I wouldn’t normally eat.

As this was a Blue Apron free trial, I had nothing to lose.  I had three meals delivered right to my door.  All of the packaging was recyclable, and it came with a couple of nice reusable freezer packs.  Here is my experience:

Blue Apron Meal: Chipotle-Glazed Meatloaf

Blue Apron Free Trial: Chipotle-Glazed Meatloaf

What I expected:

Blue Apron said the prep time for this meal was just 10 minutes with the cooking time of the meal being between 35-45 minutes.  The card (included in the picture) came with a quick description of the meal along with all of the ingredients for the meal.  Each ingredient listed even came with a picture in case you weren’t sure.  The flip side of the card also came with step by step instructions on how to prepare the meal. Additionally, there were some pictures to assist you along the way.  I laid out all of the ingredients on top of my counter along with the card and began.

The Good: 

You have all of the ingredients you need to create a unique dish.  If you tried to go to the grocery store and buy all of the necessary items to create something similar, you would spend way more than $10/meal.  Also, all of the items looked fresh and appeared top notch.  Everything from the beef, to the potatoes, to the garlic looked like it had been prepared just mere days before.  Finally, Blue Apron also pairs each of the dishes with a wine.

The Bad: 

While the meal card said the prep time was just 10 minutes, this was not the case.  It took me about double that time to prepare the meal.  The only way someone could have done the prep in 10 minutes is if they were highly experienced in the kitchen or if they had prepared this meal before.  The meal also lacked a side of vegetables.  While this might seem quite minor in the details, some healthy vegetables to go along with this meal would have made it complete.  I ended up cooking some green beans to go along with the meat and potatoes.  You also needed some cooking experience to help guide you through.  I don’t believe these meals are for the complete rookie.  For instance, you had to mince garlic, slice potatoes, and needed a few kitchen accessories to complete the meal.

Chipotle-Glazed Meatloaf Dish

Final Opinion of Blue Apron’s Free Trial

Ultimately my Blue Apron free trial was a success.  I was able to create a delicious, unique meal all by myself.  At just around $10/meal, it is also a great value because the same ingredients would cost much more if you purchased them at the store.  Downsides would be that it requires some basic kitchen knowledge and elementary kitchen items.  This meal service is great for a couple who enjoys cooking together and wants to spend some time create different dishes and bonding over the experience.

Continuing Beyond the Free Trial

If you decide to continue purchasing Blue Apron meals after the trial, you have a variety of meal options. The website is very user friendly and lets you browse through their selections easily. Furthermore, they cater to specific dietary needs as well. Pricing varies based on the serving size and the plan you choose. However, you receive a discount for your first week and free shipping. If you aren’t quite ready to commit to the program, the Blue Apron free trial is perfect for you. There’s no risk and you’ll have the chance to sample new dishes for free!

Are you interested in Blue Apron? Get $30 off your first week using this link.

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Why Are More Young Americans Living with Their Parents?

More Young Americans Are Living with Their Parents

A recent study conducted by the Pew Research Institute reported that more young Americans are living with their parents than ever before. While there are a myriad of reason why children move home, the Covid-19 pandemic and rising unemployment rates have been important contributing factors. With no clear end in sight and our financially stability in question, many young adults are looking to save money any way possible.

The Lost Generation

Let me begin by stating that I am a Millennial, born between 1981 and 1996. Let me then preface this first statement by debunking the stereotypes associated with my generation. Many call us lazy and self-righteous, soft and coddled children. We are not ungrateful or demanding. On the contrary, many of us are just trying to survive.

Some have dubbed us “the lost generation.” We grew up in the age before cell phones, witnessed the birth of the internet, and lived through a terrorist attack on home soil all before we graduated high school. Then, we were forced to take expensive loans in order to get a college education only to graduate in the midst of the mortgage crisis. We are now facing a second economic downturn just as we are reaching our prime earning years.

The promises we had been fed about working hard and getting a good education have fallen short. However, living through such adversity has taught us to adapt and be resilient. The majority of us are simply getting by. Like most Americans, we live paycheck to paycheck, and pray not to get sick or lose our jobs right now.

How Covid-19 Has Affected Employment

Although we are better educated than previous generations, we are the first generation to be worse off than our parents. Most young adults have little savings and fewer investments. Few of us can afford our own homes because we have outstanding debts to pay off first. The only thing that keeps this precarious boat afloat is a steady income. Unfortunately, recent closures and quarantine measures have left thousands of people out of work.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, American unemployment rates have skyrocketed. Millennials have been hit especially hard since many hold jobs in the service industry. The reported job losses in the wake of the economic downturn are the highest ever since the Great Depression. These conditions have forced many young adults to move back in with their parents. According to the Pew Research Center, 52% of Americans ages 18-30 live with one or both of their parents. While unemployment is not the only reason for children moving home, it is a significant factor. Furthermore, no one is certain how long conditions will continue or an economic recovery will take.

Financial Stability of Young Americans

Another intangible mark this has left on our generation is an attitude of pessimism and lack of trust in financial institutions. Paying monthly bills has become a challenge with reduced hours and widespread layoffs. The first stimulus check issued by the government offered some temporary relief, but when rent comes due many tenants will be unable to pay. It’s no wonder why many young Americans are living with their parents. Cutting out a monthly rent payment offers a huge financial relief.

The uncertainty of just how long conditions will persist only exacerbates these negative feelings. Conservative predictions estimate that it will take the better part of a decade for the economy to fully recover. This further complicates any plans to pay off debt, purchase homes, invest and retire. I can only speak for myself, but I think it’s safe to say that most young adults do not want to live with their parents. Unfortunately, with little savings and job opportunities it is becoming more of a necessity until we can better understand the full and lasting economic impacts of the coronavirus.

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Why Install A DICK’s Sporting Goods App

Dick's Sporting Goods App

During the lockdown period, it can be more difficult to do your shopping, especially when it comes to non-food goods and services. Thankfully, Dick’s Sporting Goods has come up with an innovative way to ensure that you can easily access different goods and deals that it has to offer.  Continue reading

Should You Roll Over A Retirement Plan Distribution

retirement plan redistribution

Different circumstances arise that call for one to rollover their retirement plan. You may be left with little time and tough decisions to make. The decisions you make on whether you rollover your retirement plan and how you rollover your retirement plan distribution can have profound effects on several areas of your life, including how much you are taxed. Whether or not you rollover your distribution is not a decision to be taken lightly.  Continue reading

How I Save Costs as a Sports Fan

sports-fan-saving-costs

A study has found that being a fan of a professional sports team can cost you almost $ 86,453 over a lifetime. Fans of sports like football, motor racing or soccer can expect to pay over $1,294 a year for entry and entrance prices, transport and retail expenses. For some, the expense is even greater with more than a fifth reporting that they spend an average of about $267 a year. Continue reading

How to Save Money on Sports Events

A sporting event can be a great way for your friends or family to create memories and enjoy a warm summer day. But, if you are not cautious, the costs of a single sporting event may stack up fast. Continue reading