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Robinhood - Free Stock Trading

April 23rd, 2017 at 06:00 pm

Anybody here using Robinhood? If so, what are your thoughts and review of this investing platform?
I just recently heard about it, and from what I have seen and read about it so far online, is that it is only available via cellphone app. So installing it on my laptop is a no go.

Although I am not a day trader, I do occasionally buy/sell stocks and ETF's. The idea of commission free trades is somewhat appealing, even though I don't trade that much. However, it would mean opening another account at another institution, which is not appealing.

Also, using a device that is smaller and harder to read isn't appealing for my old, tired eyes either.

Finally Paid Off The Auto Loan

April 2nd, 2017 at 05:29 pm

Hello Everyone,

I have not posted in a really long time, but I have been keeping my pages up to date. The good news is that I paid off the car loan almost a year early. I had been making double payments each month for the past few months. Saturday, I decided to just pay it off with the overtime I have been working lately. I am now debt free except for the mortgage.

A huge life event will possibly be coming up this Fall. The decision is whether to retire. I turn 65 in October and will be eligible for Medicare. I am sick of my job, and am ready NOW to retire, but with a medical issue here and there, I will just have to wait. So I am just padding the ole 401k until I make the leap.

I have been using a few financial websites and their calculators to see if a comfortable retirement will be viable. I am borderline to okay. One of the biggest determinants is the unknown, which is how long will I live. And the corresponding biggest fear is outliving my savings. If only I had the sense to invest for retirement at an earlier age!

Looking for a Bike Cam, Advice

May 7th, 2015 at 09:02 am

I bought my bike last July, so I have been cycling for almost a year. For all of last year I can remember only one close call with an automobile. It was a car that passed me and then cut in front of me to make a sudden right turn while approaching a stop sign. He did not bother to stop. Luckily I had already been slowing down for the stop sign, so I did not get hit.

But so far this cycling season, I have already had 3 or 4 close calls. These close calls have been like the above example of getting cut off, and of passing too close. My state has the 3 foot law that is supposed to be followed for safely passing bicycles. Most people here are courteous and follow that 3 foot law, but a few like to see just how close they can get to the cyclist while passing. One aggressive driver even yelled out of the passenger window of his truck, Get on the sidewalk!.

So for the purposes of documenting potential accidents and for insurance claims many cyclists across this and other countries have been buying these small high resolution cameras. They can also be used to just document scenic rides and as a journal.

Recently they have become really popular, and can get quite expensive. I would like to get a decent one that does not cost a fortune (under $300), but with a high enough resolution to read license plates, be able to mount either on the handle bar and/or the bike helmet. My rides usually last from 1 to 3 hours, so I need a battery charge to last that long. I looked at the Hero models, but I do not want to look like Wall-E or the Johnny 5 robot from the Short Circuit movies. They also are a little too pricey.

So my question to our fellow SavingAdvice bloggers is what cams do you use or recommend? Thanks in advance.

Laptop Finally Died! Hurray!!

April 28th, 2015 at 04:42 pm

This piece of crap, walmart special, with the much hated Vista operating system, that I bought in Nov.2008, finally quit operating. During the past month I noticed a blackening in the lower left corner of the screen over the start button, so I had an idea that maybe time was up for it being a thorn in my side. It was the bane of my existence, but not anymore.

As a replacement I went with a bigger and better laptop with a i7 processor, 12GB RAM, 1T Hard Drive and a 17.3 inch HD touchscreen. I guess the only drawback is the 8.1 windows operating system. However, I'm slowing getting used to it and it really isn't all that bad compared to the multitude of issues I had with the old laptop. And it did set me back about $1185.00, but I can pay it off within 24 months with no interest.

January 2015 Updates

January 1st, 2015 at 04:32 pm

I finally got around to updating my pages.
2014 was a pretty good year for saving and budgeting. My Savings Rate and Net Worth increased despite not yet completing the 2014 year IRA contributions. That remainder will just have to go on the 2015 saving rate, similar to last year.

2014 was also a great year for losing quite a lot of weight, 56 lbs. Since buying a bicycle last summer I have been able to keep off the weight with a continued sensible diet and exercise regimen. I'm still walking and trying to stick with a low carb, low fat diet. I have dusted off the old weight bench, and started doing some light-weight exercises during the cold months. Hopefully this will help strengthen my core muscles which will help my cycling. I did manage to get out on x-mas day to ride for 2 hours, because the weather cooperated. The weather won't be cooperating this weekend, so no cycling, unless I bundle up like Ralphie's little brother in "A Christmas Story".

Coffee Maker Died

September 21st, 2014 at 08:00 am

My beloved Coffee Maker passed away during the night while in the Program Mode. It was about 10 years old. The Wake will be held at Noon today at the trash buggy on the carport. It is requested that in lieu of flowers please send coffee filters.

Early this morning before the caffeine withdrawals set in, I went in search of a replacement to the Chinese-American store, also known as Walmart. I could not find one Made In The USA!!! All of them were made in either China or Mexico. I ended up with another programmable Black & Decker for $32.80, which was made in China. This will be my third Black & Decker. The first one (not sure where it was made) lasted about 20 years. The last one (made in Mexico) lasted only about 10 years. I wonder how long this one will last!

I considered a Mr. Coffee brand, but it has some kind of water filtration system on it. I noticed the replacement filters cost just under $5.00. I decided I did not want that ongoing added expense. Besides, in my area we have great water.

August Updates

September 14th, 2014 at 04:04 pm

Yeah, I'm really late at updating pages for last month.

On the Investment Page my cash allocation dropped a couple percentage points because of two reasons. Equities advanced again for another month. I also added two small purchases, which continues my slow monthly increase in Real Assets allocation. I added a cheap steel producer and a base metals ETF.

I got three surprises / snowflakes in the mail. They were little mail-in-rebates of $6.44 twice and a $3.39. I added then to a local Credit Union Savings Account. They were from something I submitted last spring and completely forgot about. It's great getting money in the mail!

For the month of August my Grocery, HBA, and other little misc spending came slightly over budget, so it was a pretty good month for budgeting.

My sciatica is finally going away, and I am trying to get back on track with exercise and watching the diet. With the weather finally moderating I'm getting more bicycle time. I went out twice today and got in a couple hours of riding time.

July Updates

August 6th, 2014 at 06:38 pm

I finally got around to updating My Pages.

In the Investment Plan Page my Cash stakes increased slightly for 2 reasons. First almost all of the equity positions dropped along with Mr. Market causing cash to increase a little. I also sold my POT in July. No, not that pot, but Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan. It was a nice little 17% gain in nine months time. The proceeds will be soon used in a future purchase, probably another metals/miners or energy play.

My Weight Loss program got severely side tracked last month with a bad bout of Sciatica. The pain in my back and leg prevented any exercise at all. I'm surprised I only put back on about 2 or 3 lbs last month. Just this week I am able to resume walking and my physical therapy sessions will be done probably next week. Hopefully the doctor will let me back on my bike for some light weekend riding.

I did get the $200 bonus from the Chase Freedom card, but I have not decided what to do with it yet.

This month I will be finally paying off my new Central Heating and AC System. I've been paying on it for only 2 years but it seems like forever.

7-20 Weekly Spending and Sciatica Updates

July 20th, 2014 at 11:15 am

My grocery spending was right on budget this past week. I was able to get out and walk through the grocery store Friday night and today without too much pain. I then went to Kohls today, but the pain in my back and right leg became too much. After sitting down on one of the little benches in the shoe department to alleviate the pains, I just decided to leave without making a purchase.

At the urging of some of the contributors here, I have started some stretching exercises yesterday and this morning. I am going real slow with them, and starting out very conservatively. I also was able to do a couple of very short 15 min. rides on my new bicycle yesterday and today without hardly any pain. Because the pains have not completely gone away, I'm afraid of aggravating that dang sciatic nerve. I imagine the road to recovery is going to take some time.

07-13 Past Week Spending

July 16th, 2014 at 06:03 pm

My weekly spending was way under budget this past week mainly because I was blind sided with a bout of sciatica. It caused a halt to most shopping, because of the pain shooting down from my back into my right leg.

The pain became so unbearable, it caused a trip to the Emergency Room, then to two other doctors. Hopefully, the new meds I am taking now will help it subside. I am just now getting able to go back to work after missing a week. Fortunately I have already met my medical deductible and annual out of pocket caps, so the 3 doctors, six x-rays, and the ER visit won't cost me anything.

But this has also interfered with my diet and exercise regimen, and temporarily put a halt to riding my new bicycle. Hopefully, I'll be back in the saddle soon.

07-06 Past Week Spending

July 6th, 2014 at 03:03 pm

I went over budget on groceries this past week for a couple reasons. I usually have a hard time staying on budget during the Kroger Mega Sales. I need to slow down on contributing to the stockpile, and really need to continue depleting it.

The 4th of July Holiday has an impact on the grocery budget also. I had relatives over for a great cookout. As a consolation I now have enough grilled meats and various salads for lunches for at least a week.

I also had to do some extra spending for some bike accessories. I spent about a $100 at a sporting goods store on a new helmet, a pump, and a lock, etc. I did manage to use a $20 off $100 store coupon.

And speaking of my new bike, I am really loving getting back into riding again, even though it's just in the big neighborhood next to mine. I'm getting plenty of exercise and slowing increasing my endurance.

6-30 Investment Plan Update

July 4th, 2014 at 06:28 pm

For June I sold one health care stock into strength for a nice little 18% gain over a short 7 month holding period. I will probably soon redeploy the proceeds into more Real Assets, either another energy, commodity or precious metals holding.

This will continue my monthly addition into this asset class, which has been on the rise lately as inflation and the war cycles ramp up. My allocation into these holdings has risen mainly on price appreciation over the past few months. We may be in the beginning stage of another long term rally for some of these beaten down sectors especially the miners.

There were no other major changes in my core allocations.

My Plan and allocations can be found in the Investment Plan page in the sidebar.

New Discover 5% Cashback Bonus

July 2nd, 2014 at 05:50 pm

I just got an email from Discover about a new 5% Cashback Bonus that is good until July 31. This would be in addition to their current quarterly 5% at Gas Stations.

"New! Earn More at a Store You Choose!"

"Sign up to earn 5% Cashback Bonus on up to $500 in purchases now through July 31, at your choice of one of these great stores.
Select ONE only to sign up instantly with just one click!"

Amazon.com.....Best Buy.....Kohls

6-28 Weight Loss Update and New Bike

June 28th, 2014 at 06:08 pm

It's been six months since I started my diet and exercise regimen. Today I stepped on the ole bathroom scales and weighed in at 165 lbs. This equates to a 55 pound weight loss since Xmas Day. (My Weight Loss Progress Page can be found in the sidebar). Now the quest is to keep the weight off.

So as a reward I bought a new bicycle. It will supplement my exercise routine. It's my first one in about 25 or 30 years, and it's amazing how bikes have changed. I researched them on the internet, and visited several sporting goods stores, big box stores, and dedicated bike shops. I decided not to go with the cheapest or the most expensive either.

The mid range model I chose after test riding several today is the JAMIS Citizen 1. I charged it on the new CHASE Freedom card with the current $200 Bonus for charging $500 in the first three months, so that $200 will help pay for it.

I don't know how to upload and post pictures, so here it is on the JAMIS website:


6-22 Week Spending and Shopping

June 22nd, 2014 at 08:25 am

I came in right at On-Budget this past week for groceries, HBA, and other consumables. I would have been well below budget if not for an impulse buy yesterday. I went up to a bike shop in the city. It just happens to be across the street from a Whole Foods Market. I suddenly decided to stop in, and sample and buy some of their great cheeses (I should have ate breakfast before leaving the house). I also picked up some organic baby spinach for this weekend salads.

On the rebound home I decided to stop at my favorite clothing store for some more work shirts. I got 3 polo style knit shirts for $12.00 at the Goodwill Outlet. They didn't have any Shorts in my size, so I have an excuse to stop in again in a week or two.

6-15 Cheap Bayer Aspirin and Deodorant

June 15th, 2014 at 07:22 am

In todays Redplum insert in the newspaper there are 2 great high value coupons, $4 off 2 and a $2 off 1 for the Bayer (20 ct or higher). This could mean a moneymaker at your Walmart, as some have the 36 ct at $1.98. My nearest store had them for $2.17 so your mileage may vary. I went ahead and got 6 for $.17 each instead of waiting for a little better price.

We are wrapping up the second week of the Kroger Mega Sale which included Secret and Gillette Deodorant for $1.29 (after $5 off 5). We have $2 off 2 MCs for the Gillette and $1 off 1 MCs on the Secret from the June P&G insert. Kroger finally restocked, so in the past 2 weeks I have picked up 4 of each Deo for $.29 each.

I came in under budget again this week for Groceries, HBA, and consumables. But barely.

I've been out looking for a reasonably priced bicycle to ride around the neighborhood or short trips to the corner store. There are a couple at Walmart and Sports Authority that are possibilities. I'm going to keep looking and try to catch something on sale or deeply discounted. I guess the days of the 50 dollar bike are over.

06-11 Weight Loss Update and Cycling

June 11th, 2014 at 11:53 am

I finally hit the 50 lb weight loss point when I stepped on the scales today. Yippee! For a reward I was thinking about purchasing a bicycle to help with my moderate exercise routine, which for now is nothing but a lot of walking.

I have not owned a bike in over 20 years, and at my age(just over 60), I am not looking for anything really expensive, or off road, or racing at the speed of sound. I'm thinking about something economical that I can just cycle around the neighborhood, or maybe a very short trip to the corner store.

I have just begun researching the latest models and a couple of them caught my eye. The Cruiser models with just one speed, fenders, and the old fashioned pedal-back braking is reminiscent of the bike I had as a child. My understanding that the next step up is the Comfort models with gears.

My small town doesn't have a cycle shop, but the next little town over from me does have a couple. The one online site I visited had nothing under $600.00. No way! I went to a sporting goods store in the city nearby, but they didn't have any of the Cruiser models on display. I'm going to check out another sporting goods store this weekend.

If anyone has any suggestions, I'll gladly consider.
Thanks in advance.

06-07 CVS Couponing Trip

June 7th, 2014 at 09:10 am

Current Sale ends today.

I got all of the below for $0.16 plus .64 tax = $0.80.

I went into this transaction with $4.00 ExtraCareBucks:

1 - Colgate Optic White Toothpaste, 3.5 oz, @ $3.00
Less $1.00 MC and $2.00 Magic Coupon Machine Q => Free

2 - Ban Total Refresh Cooling Body Cloths, @ $3.39 each
Less 2 $2.00 MC's => $2.78 for both.

2 - Arizona Tea, 20 oz, on sale for $.69 each => $1.38

Total = $2.78 + $1.38 = $4.16, less $4.00 ECB = $.16

I then got another $4.00 ECB for the Ban product.

Note: It's my understanding that the Buy 2 Ban Cloths and get a $4 ECB is a June monthly deal, and the limit is 4.

If you cannot stand the heat....

June 4th, 2014 at 03:54 pm

No, I did not get out of the kitchen.

I turned on the Air Conditioner.

I held out for as long as I could without Central Air. I was using ceiling fans and a box fan. It's about the longest I have gone into the hot months without AC.

In my area we were actually doing fairly well until we got lots of rain almost everyday last week. Then this week the sun is out, and the temperatures are getting into the lower 90s. That means the humidity has shot up too. And, with no real cooldown at night, it has become too uncomfortable.

There goes the Electric Bill!!!

06-03 Investment Plan Update

June 3rd, 2014 at 05:06 pm

The Plan and Portfolio are now updated. But there are no significant changes. I did increase the Real Assets category just a little with the addition of 2 ETF's last month that track the other white metals:
PALL - ETFS Physical Palladium Shares
PPLT - ETFS Physical Platinum Shares.

The metals may be in a bottoming mode or may have already bottomed. Then again, maybe not! Anyway I've been trying to tiptoe back into that category a little at a time. The miners certainly have been beaten up badly since Fall 2011.

The complete Plan and Portfolio page can be found in the sidebar.

06-01 Weekly Spending Update

June 1st, 2014 at 05:45 pm

I came in under budget again for the second week in a row. Hooray! Although it was mainly grocery spending I did pick up a couple cheap Blu-rays last weekend.

Today I sprang for a Lowes Gift Card while at Kroger. They are offering 4X Fuel Points for selected GC's through 6/17(I think). So the $25 GC means to an extra 100 fuel points for June, which translates to an extra $.10 per gallon of gas. The GC will be used toward more line for the weedeater and some other home improvement items.

06-01 Weight Loss Update

June 1st, 2014 at 04:38 am

I've been serious about weight and waist reduction for 5 months now. I dropped another 5 lbs last month, but my waist line reduced by only one half inch. I would like to lose more of the ole spare tire around my waist by turning it into a flat tire.

My Weight Loss Progress Page can be found in the sidebar.

Cheap Blu-rays at Best Buy

May 26th, 2014 at 06:15 pm

Today I picked up a couple Blu-rays for $4.99 based on the work of John Steinbeck:

The Grapes Of Wrath
Viva Zapata!

List of some other $4.99 Blu-rays at Best Buy:
The Big Country
The Big Trail
A Bridge Too Far
Broken Arrow
The Comancheros
Force 10 from Navarone
The Grapes of Wrath
The Great Escape
Hang 'Em High
The Horse Soldiers
The Magnificent Seven
Rescue Dawn
Viva Zapata!
Von Ryan's Express

Your mileage may vary at your local store.

We Be Grillin

May 25th, 2014 at 12:58 pm

My puppy dog woke me at 6 this morning even though I wanted to sleep in some. After a couple cups of coffee I decided to get started, and fire up the grill. In addition to the usual smoked sausages, hotdogs, and hamburgers the following veggies were also tossed on the grill:

Corn on the Cob in the Husk
Sliced Pineapple
Vidalia Onion
Sweet Mini Peppers

The peppers and onion were then chopped up with some Monterrey Jack mixed in. It's then zapped in the microwave just a minute to melt the cheese. It makes a great topping on the burgers or as a side dish.

I now have enough leftovers to make lunches all week.

5-24 Weekly Spending Update

May 24th, 2014 at 02:47 pm

I made a trip to Kroger late last night and bought just under $30 for under $17. The receipt says I saved 65%. Using some good Q's, I picked up some cheap Simply Lemonade($1.25), Breyer Ice Cream(1.50), Wishbone Dressing(1.29), Gwaltney Hot Dogs(.70) for the weekend Grilling Session.

Their produce department was really lacking in substance, like it usually does on late Friday nights, so I did another trip this AM. The saving percentage was not as good @ 48%, because I did not have many produce Q's. A couple eQ's scored some free mini carrots and $2 off $10 in the produce dept. I also got three free Snickers Bites with $1.00/1 Q's. The Jello will be reimbursed through SavingStar. The cost of the second trip was just under $20.00.

As long as I don't have to go back Sunday to get more stuff, my weekly spending total will be about $36, which will be well under budget for a change. This is the area of my budget that I really need to reduce and start using more crap in the ole stockpile.

5-20 Weight Loss Update

May 20th, 2014 at 10:06 am

Back on Xmas Day of 2013 I stepped on the ole antique bathroom scale, and was astonished at the amount of weight I have gained in the last couple of years. Of course the ever tightening of my belt was giving me plenty of hints. I weighed in at 220 lbs, and I decided it was time for action. My goal was to lose a safe rate of 1.5 lbs per week or 6 lbs per month, for a 3 month period. Then I would stop and reassess the results, then either proceed with the plan or stop(I decided to continue). Now, because I have never been good at New Years resolutions I certainly did not want to call it that. I decided that the new year just happened to coincide with my weight loss plan.

When I stepped on the bathroom scale today I weighed in at 175 lbs, meaning a 45 lbs weight loss so far. So how did I do it, everyone asks? Perseverance is usually the first word I say. But there is more to it than that, of course.

Over the past couple of years I had been slowly decreasing the amount of red meat in my diet, and was increasing the poultry and pork and processed meats like smoked sausages. I also had been increasing dishes containing those meats along with lots of pastas and rice. This meant lots of Italian and Cajun dishes like Chicken Alfredo, Spaghetti, and Jambalaya's and Gumbos. Because of the high carbohydrate content I decided to change my diet altogether.

I went to a higher protein, lower fat, and lower carbohydrate diet. This meant I had to cut out the rice and pasta, and increase the non-processed meats, and I added more fish like tuna and salmon. I also incorporated some stir-fry type of dishes of meat and veggies, but without the rice and tropical oils. After the first 3 month period was over, I decided to start adding back into the diet some pasta, rice, and potatoes, but on a limited basis. This also means Portion Control on everything. And, this meant No Super-Sizing, and no more seconds and thirds.

I decided that some exercise was needed. I did not want to join a gym again, and I did not want to do any high impact stuff like aerobics, so I decided to just do some old fashioned walking to increase my metabolism. I try to walk at least an hour a day. I also try to emphasize doing some of that walking after meals.

So in conclusion, it has been a plan of incorporating Moderate Exercise, along with Reasonable Portions, and of course Perseverance.

5-17 New Budget and Savings Plan Pages

May 17th, 2014 at 05:44 pm

I finally got around to creating the new pages. With all the rain today I wasn't able to get any yard work done. So, I also worked on the Investment Plan page today. It's still a Work In Progress though. In fact all three of them will need more tweaking.

5-10 Donation

May 9th, 2014 at 11:01 am

My local Post Office is having their annual Letter Carrier "Stamp Out Hunger" food drive Saturday, 5/10, for the food banks and pantries. Supposedly all donations stay in the local communities. I managed to put together a grocery bag of canned goods from the ole stock pile. Because of a good chance of rain I won't be including any packaged goods, just canned goods.

05-05 IWS - Internet Withdrawal Syndrome

May 5th, 2014 at 12:44 pm

My internet went down early Saturday afternoon and just got back up this Monday morning. My withdrawals are now subsiding. Talk about an Addiction!

However, I did manage to stay busy doing lots of yard work(the Joys of Home Ownership). I got sick of dealing with my very old Craftsman weedeater and decided to pick up another one that does a better job of edging the driveway. After stops at a few of the usual stores, I found a reasonable electric Black and Decker model at Lowes.

I did the second $6.44 Hamburger Mail In Rebate at Wally World, so the meat will eventually be rebated.

Kroger's second week of the recent Mega Event Sale is ending in my area tomorrow, so I did manage to pick up a few more cheapies this past weekend. Crest toothpaste was also on sale for 10 for $10. I had a couple Q's for $.75 off 1. I was also able to combine a couple Kroger sales with SavingStar promotions which made Kraft Mac & Cheese free, and a cheap Liberte yogurt. I also got a bunch of Avocados with an additional 20 percent off. These will go well with the home made burritos in commemoration of Cinco de Mayo.

4-30 WAGS 81mg Bayer Aspirin for $0.24

April 30th, 2014 at 08:43 am

For all those on the daily 81mg regimen there is a great sale this week at WAGS. It's Buy One and Get Second at 50 Percent Off. The May Savings Book has a $1.00/1 off Q, which is effective as of 4/27, and can be applied to both bottles in the sale. Plus you can use two $1/1 Q's from several past RedPlum and SmartSource Inserts. My store has the 36 count chewables for $2.99, so after buying 2, and applying 2 insert Q's and the May Savings Book Q, it came to $0.48 plus tax for 2 bottles or $0.24 each.

The expiration date on the boxes that I got is 11/2016, so I got 8 bottles to stock up a little more. This brings up the subject of watching the expiration dates of HBA's and especially OTC meds. You may not want to buy so much that you will end up with a lot of bottles of aspirin that have expired. I did this when I first stated extreme couponning/saving, and now I'm donating some stuff that is about to expire.

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