Sep 9, 2009

Restaurant.com Update: $25 Certificate For Just $1

Hey people, I know it's a long long time but I am here with a great news. I wrote a post about how you can save money and enjoy your favorite eat-out times at the same time by purchasing gift certificates from Restaurant.com.

If you have not noticed already, today is September 9, 2009 or 9/9/09 ;) so the good people at Restaurant.com might have thought of this magical number and spread out a great coupon code - NINETY. So now you can get a $25 gift certificate for just $1 after applying this code. Almost all coupons are valid for one year from date of purchase so this is a great opportunity to stock up some for yourself ;) I am nost sure when this deal will be taken off so hurry-up and get going ... NINETY @ Restaurant.com
Update: I just confirmed, this offer will run through Sunday, September 13, 2009.

Aug 4, 2009

A Phone Call And HSBC Waived My Late Fee

I could not imagine a late credit card payment, but nothing is impossible as they say. And when I was enjoying in Albany, NY with friends I forgot my due date was also passing-by, the next day I check my HSBC credit card account and I see a $20 late penalty. Believe me I am not that irresponsible, get this: my statement balance was $3 and I was just 1 day late. Well yeah I know thier policy is policy so they had to charge me but somewhere inside I wasn't comfortable with this whopping $20 fee for a mere $3 just a day past due and this was my first default in last three years.

I discussed this with a friend and came to know that I can get this fee waived if I call HSBC customer care and request them to consider my situation. Thus I did so, I called the HSBC customer center same day:

I said: "Hey as you can see from my account details, I am charged $20 for being a day late for payment on my card. I have been with HSBC for last three years and never missed a single payment, is there a chance to revert the late fee?"


While I anticipated a little negotiation, this is what I heard next:


The Customer Rep. replied: "We thank you for being a wonderful customer for three years. I have initiated the credit and you will see the $20 off of your account in the next few days."


Oooo man that was simple, wasn't it? Just a phone call and I saved $20 ;)

Aug 3, 2009

Grocery Shopping: Thinking Of Total Bill The Moment You Enter A Store Helps


With nothing much left to do on weekends, grocery shopping is one of my favorite activities. While I suffice the shopper in me, I also fill-up the items for the week to come and thus many of my posts deal with grocery shopping. In Quicken Reveals - II I discussed how I escalated my grocery bills by misjudging the actual needs and this time it's something different.

I usually shop with my friends and the fun part comes when we eventually go to checkout counters. Every time my question will be: "So who wins today?" I compare the total billed amount for all of us and declare the winner ;) While this sounds funny at first, this became a motivation for us after their few competitive shopping experiences with me. When you focus on your total bill from the moment you enter the grocery store, it changes the way you shop for each and every item on your list resulting in a lowered total.

I realized the importance of this seemingly funny activity of mine when I went alone to Walmart a few weeks ago to get a small list of items, four to be exact. When I go for the weekend shopping my list would be somewhere from 10-12 items and believe me for a single person that's more than enough for a week. So this time it was petty four count and I lowered my guard because I thought my friends are not with me and anyways I am getting only four items. Guess how much I paid? $12. I came home, thought about it and felt ashamed of myself for being so carelss.

Now when I said focusing on the final total bill changes the way you shop for every item, I meant that in a practical way. I would not go to get an item on my list and pick the cheapest one available on the shelve; every individual has different tastes and preferences for every other item and thus it is your prudent call which item should be picked the cheapest and which ones you would not compromise. For example, though I could get cheaper ones but I will always buy my favorite strawberry shortcake; however I had to buy a floor cleaning agent yesterday and I bought the cheapest as any one is good as far as it has detergent base.

Do you adopt any such fun yet beneficial activity when you go shopping? Do leave a comment and share your views.

Jul 31, 2009

My Monetary Snapshot - July '09

Here's what it looks like at the end of this month:

Emergency Funds (High Interest Savings): $7663
Checking Accounts (Non-Interest Earning): $254
401K: $707.72
CD: $2000
Interest + Other Earnings: $73.59
(amazed how come it's $73.59 ;) all added up by paid surveys and free money)

Car Loan Balance: $11,838
Credit Card Balance: $206

July 2009: Total Assets: $10,624 Total Debt: $12,044

Jul 27, 2009

You Gotta Try Restaurant.com !!!

For two weeks under the work load that wasn't all I was left to do. One of my colleagues had guests and it spurred another eat-out plan. It wasn't the first time I used Restaurant.com nor I do any kind of advertising for them but the continued feeling of pleasure, fun, taste and savings altogether prompted me to pen this article.

To start with, I like their tag line: "EAT. DRINK. SAVE MONEY."
  • What You Need To Do?
It's easy and quick! Visit Restaurant.com and look out at the top right corner.


Step 1
is to Find a Restaurant. You can search a restaurant in your area by zipcode, state or city name. You can also select the diameter within which you would like to travel. Once you have the list of all participating restaurants, look for your favorite one. One of the features I like about the listings is the small banner at the bottom of each restaurant pic reading what kind of cuisine you can dine there.

Step 2 involves Purchasing A Gift Certificate value. Simply select the gift certificate value you want to go with, I almost always go for $25 certificate as it seems to be sufficient for 3-4 people. Buy a gift certificate of your chosen denomination.

Step 3 is to Print The Certificate, take it to the restaurant and enjoy your food ;)
  • So How Do You Save?

Every participating restaurant will feature different denomination. So take $25 certificate for instance. Restaurant.com itself discounts the initial price to $10, and the rest of the price cut comes from various discount codes.

Restaurant.com would run weekly discount schemes typically every week (NAPKIN will work through Tuesday, try it). These discount codes could be obtained from several discount code/coupon websites and usually result in 60-80% reduction on the $10 price. I am planning to post the playing discount code every week on Let's Be Curious!!!

  • Crunching The Numbers
Having said that I usually go with the $25 certificate, let me share my recent experience. After applying the discount code the price was $4. The total on the check after dinner was $48. So after applying the gift certificate at restaurant, total bill came to $48-$25 = $23. Adding the cost of certificate itself makes it $27. If you go with friends, splitting $23 left me to pay $7 ... what do you say, isn't it worth it ;)
  • How Does It Work?
Well I honestly don't know the complete inside story but mainly the participating restaurants gain publicity and advertising through Restaurant.com. Additionally there is a chance that a customer who is just trying out today would come back more often later.


However it works, it definitely works with me :)
  • What To Keep In Mind?
Finally the part asking some attention guys, always read the regulation on your certificates before taking them to lunch/dinner. Here are the pointers which I could gather:

a) Mostly you may use Restaurant.com's gift certificate in a participating restaurant only once a month
b) Sometimes you will need to present the certificate while placing the order
c) There is always a threshold total party order value. The certificates are valid only on order reaching these thresholds. For eg. I had to spend $35 or more to use my certificate, not a tough job is it? ;)

Let me know if you know something that I missed out. If you haven't already, try these gift certificates, they are excellent value for a few bucks. Please leave comments and experiences below.

Jul 22, 2009

A Long Lull And I'm Back ;)

Yeah I know, it was July 8th then and it is July 22nd today, but guess what I'm Back :)

As many of you might know I work full-time and if you follow me on twitter then you might be aware that for the past two weeks or so I was heavily loaded with office work. Sometimes it doesn't make complete sense to overkill the 'quest to perfection' syndrome, and that is what happened to me.

While I started to struggle with more important my supervisor calmly said to me
"I had always wondered and still find it difficult to decide when is it good enough".

It was all that took me to realize that I better channel my efforts in the areas of more demand. Doesn't this also sound like a personal finance aspect demanding some prudent thinking?

Jul 8, 2009

Facebook + Starbucks + Friend => A Free Icecream Pint


Free stuff never ceases to pop :)

Here's another people! If you are on Facebook and love ice cream then this deal is for you. Visit Starbuck Icecream's Share app page on Facebook and share coupon for a free ice cream pint with one of your friends. Remember you can share just one coupon so decide it before hand.

This is how it works:
  • Starbucks is giving away 20,000 free icecream pint coupons everyday
  • you share this with your friend and your friend gets the coupon
  • you get $1 rebate coupon for sharing
  • ask (bug :P) your friend to return the favor
  • scheme to run through July 19th
  • coupons are given starting every hour
  • that means over 800 coupons every hour
  • they go really fast so act fast at the strike of next hour
  • recipients may not reside in CO, LA & TN :(
So act fast at the next hour and bag your free icecream .... I just got my friend get me my free icecream coupon. Thanks for the deal @acheapchick

Let me know when you get your coupon and share if you know of any other cool scheme.

... And So Copying Isn't Worth It!

Well I don't usually post funny/non-PF stuff but it's second today itself .... and actually I don't need to write a word, just to let you know that I'm a big Alizee fan and Tabata Jalil is considered Mexican Alizee ;)

Alizee's Performance



Tabata's Performance, same song



(Tabata Jalil is a known name in South America and has a good earned position in media through various TV shows)

I'm Sorry Blogger - But What To Do

I have been dealing with Blogger's painful editing and formatting support for more than three months now, it's only my love for my existing 40+ posts at blogger keeps me from migrating to Wordpress :(

While Google remains in the front row for developing cool and innovative products all the time ... we all are error prone ... aren't we?

I included a video for the first time in my post on Independence Day. While I needed to accept the terms and conditions for uploading a video, Blogger wouldn't show me the conditions :) See the screenshots below:


Jul 6, 2009

How Banks Calculate Average Daily Available Balance

With interest rates going a sharp downward path, High Yielding Online Savings Accounts and Rewards Checking Accounts are getting very much attention these days. Both these accounts (and several other bank products) pay us interest based on the Average Daily Available Balance (ADAB) on our accounts.

I had been playing with my online savings statements to find out how financial institutions calculate this number and finally I could figure it out yesterday.


Every bank pays you interest at the end of a term. For normal savings accounts this term is typically 1 month, making them to pay interest at the end of every 30 or 31 days period. It is common sense that the more money we have in our accounts the more interest we will get but this is not it.

Banks don't consider our account balance on the last working day of a month for calculating interest, rather what matters to them is
how much money was available to them throughout a month. Banks use the term Average Daily Available Balance (ADAB) to mean this, as is clear from the term itself, this number reflects how much money we made available to the bank to be used for their business purposes.
  • Formula To Calculate Interest
Amount = Principal (1+r)n

where, Amount is the sum (with interest) you get after n years at r% per year. For eg. if you had $100 in your account for 1 year at 3% per year then

P = $100, r = 3/100 = 0.03, n = 1

This formula will give you Amount you will have after completion of 1 year. When banks calculate interest they replace Principal (P) with the Average Daily Available Balance (ADAB) so the formula becomes:

Amount = ADAB (1+r)n
  • Calculating Average Daily Available Balance
I will work with a simple example here. Consider a bank statement below:

Date
Withdrawl
Deposit
Balance
07/01/09

$100
$100
07/08/09
$50

$50
07/15/09

$50
$100
07/22/09

$100
$200
07/29/09

$100
$300

Assuming there was no transaction after 29th, it would be unfair to the bank if they had to consider $300 as the Principal for calculating interest. And that is true as $300 were not always present in the account. Let's now calculate Average Daily Available Balance for the above account.

The technique is to calculate contribution of an individual account balance towards the months average balance, sum all such contributed balances and divide the sum by number of days in that month. To do so create a table as below:

Account Balance
Days before next transaction
Contributed Balance
$100
(07/01 to 07/07 =) 7
$700
$50
(07/08 to 07/14 = ) 7
$350
$100
(07/15 to 07/21 = ) 7$700
$200
(07/22 to 07/28 = ) 7$1400
$300
(07/29 to 07/31 = ) 3$900
Total

$4050

July '09, the month under consideration has 31 days. This gives the Average Daily Available Balance (ADAB) equal to:

Average Daily Available Balance = $4050/31 = $130.65

You might be wondering whether this is correct given the account balance at the end was $300. Well it turns out that owing to the transactions made as shown above, the account balance never exceeded $100 for 21 days (07/01/09 through 07/21/09) resulting in a lower average balance.
  • Factors Affecting Your Interest
As we saw above there are three main factors affecting the interest we may get on our account balances:
  1. Average Daily Available Balance
  2. Rate of interest per year (out of our control)
  3. Time in years
Factor #2 and #3 are usually out of our control as we can't actually decide the rate and considering per month calculations the time is going to be 1/12 ~ 0.08 years.

Average balance, however, can be controlled and the only way to do that is to leave maximum you can in your account and leave it there for the longest possible.
  • Some Ways To Maximize Your Average Daily Balance
  1. Get your paycheck direct-deposited into your savings account, why carry check when it gains you nothing
  2. Don't withdraw money until it is really needed
  3. Use automatic money transfers between accounts. My car loan's monthly due date is 2nd of every month. The amount is automatically transferred on the 1st and till then it keeps gaining interest for me.
  4. Set aside some extra money if you think you are a addict of intermittent withdrawls.
What ways you implement to maximize your interest earnings? Leave a comment and share your views with other readers.
I'm in a Blog Carnival: This post was among the ones exhibited in Carnival of Money Hacks at Money Beagles. I am excited about your presence on my blog today and would be glad to know about your thoughts on this post and my blog, hope to see you around :) Consider subscribing to my feed or updates by e-mail.

Jul 4, 2009

Happy 233rd Independence Day America !!!

A Very Happy Independence Day to all :)

As it has always been about curiosity ;), I'd like to share something I just found out. It was on July 4, 1776 when the Congress adopted United States' Declaration of Independence. Actually the legal separation of American colonies from Britain happened on July 2, 1776 but it took two days for the Congress to sign and adopt the Declaration of Independence.

July 2 was supposed to be commemorated as the Independence Day but July 4 became more widely known when people came to know about signing and adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

Inserting a video for the first time. I visited New York City in December 2006 and shot the video below on Ellis Island while returning from Liberty. I don't know why but I always feel nice and proud when I see this US Flag waving on the beats of cool sea side breeze, Navy Coast Guard chopper in the background and you can literally hear the wind. BTW none of those human noises in the background are mine ... so just ignore them ;)

video

Don't forget watching the fireworks tonight. While many people enjoy spending their Independence Day driving miles and partying with friends and relatives, I found pretty diverse plans from the readers of Bargaineering.com on Jim's post titled "What Are Your July 4th Plans?". Read the comments here, some are really interesting!

After four tiresome road-trips in June I am taking off of the weekend spree this time, finding for myself how it feels to stay back and enjoy the lull, clean-up my apartment and car, finish reading few finance books. Today was no-work day, I browsed many shopping zones around which I haven't been to since I came here. It was fun, hope to have some good time tomorrow too ... thinking about my plans, ummmmm ... a movie in mall, a cold coffee, While Molten Chocolate Cake @ Chili's and obviously the fireworks ... Happy Independece Day Readers :)

I would love to hear h
ow are you spending/spent your Independence weekend, drop me a few lines!

Jul 2, 2009

How I Trimmed My Dining Bills by 59% - "No Eat-Out Experiment" Result

With the inception of June '09 I halted my eat-out habits for a month. Today that 1 month period is over and I would like to share with you the savings I witnessed over the past one month.
  • What was the experiment
I coined it a "No Eat-Out Month" Experiment when I pledged to not spend at all eating out. Food is my weakness and so I couldn't stop myself from wandering away from the seemingly pledge but I did try my best and here is the result. It reminds me of setting the bar higher, in this case I lowered the bar a little, though, but still it looks like a success :)
  • Result
I saved 59.6% in my dining bills last month. Below is a snapshot from my Quicken Online account with dining trends for June '09:


As seen above I spent $50 on dining bills. Below is the snapshot for my eat-out spending for May '09 when I spent $124 on dining:


That's a $74 savings straight-away! While many people consider 74 bucks as just a mere amount, I see it as my 8-months Netflix bill :)
  • How I did it

I cook (almost) every night and take lunch box to work, this habit saves me enough already. In May '09 I joined several friends to get on to roads for some beautiful and eventful trips, and my wallet was slain there. In June '09 I went on 3 road trips but still the results are in my favor.

Here are few things I made sure to put to action:

  1. cook at home regularly

  2. eat properly before leaving home (for work, shopping, etc.)

  3. while on a road trip, prefer coffee with sugar at a service station. Sugar energizes (and satiates) you while coffee lets you keep going

  4. meet with friends at home and plan to cook and eat together inside, it's pure frugal fun
  5. (@trenttsd suggests) stop at a grocery shop while on a trip than at a diner

  6. next time you shop groceries buy something that you really savor when you crave. Use it to control your eat-out yearnings

  7. if you should go out, then order something you were longing to eat. Satisfaction is a m ust when it comes to taste fellas ;)
  • So where did I spend

So where did I spend those $50 and when did I spend them. I am not sure how clear will the following image be once it's published:

This is the list of my dining bills for June '09. As you can see I mostly had coffee and that was when I was driving ;) Secondly Cold Stone which I miss these days was another venue. Panera Bread and Formosa Chinese were where I went to had some real meal with friends.

Julia @BargainBabe.com, with her numerous readers, is observing a spending moratorium month in July '09 that started yesterday. If you feel motivated enough, give it a try and join BargainBabe this month.

Have you ever considered such experiment? How did it go? What do you think of such activities? Please leave a comment.

Jul 1, 2009

My Monetary Snapshot - June '09

Let's Be Curious is more than two months old today :)

Here's what it looks like at the end of this month:

Emergency Funds (High Interest Savings): $5578
Checking Accounts (Non-Interest Earning): $917
401K: $608
CD: $2000
Interest + Other Earnings: $97.66
(amazed how come it's $97 ;) all added up by paid surveys and free money)

Car Loan Balance: $13,512
Credit Card Balance: $71

June 2009: Total Assets: $9103 Total Debt: $13,583
May 2009: Total Assets: $8321 Total Debt: $14,522
April 2009: Total Assets: $6065 Total Debt: $15,163

Jun 30, 2009

Extra Paycheck Month - July '09

There are 52 weeks in a regular year and 4 weeks in a month. Ohhhh did I miss something, because 4 weeks a month makes it 48 weeks a year? No people, I am correct here! So where are the (52-48=) 4 weeks?

When we talk of "4 weeks a month", we are actually talking about the "complete weeks". In the months having 30 or 31 days, the number of weeks are a little more above 4. The extra days constituting these extra little weeks make up the 4 missing weeks through an year I mentioned above.

If you are lucky enough and are paid weekly, one of the extra day in the month may be your paycheck day. For me it's Wednesday and thus July '09 brings in 5 paychecks for me instead of 4 :)

Whether you budget or not, almost all of us are used to manage our monthly expenses with 4 paychecks a month and thus this extra paycheck you get in July '09 can be used to fulfill one of your long awaited goals.

What can you do with your extra paycheck:
  • deposit it towards your loan or mortgage
  • start/strengthen your emergency funds
  • stash your high yielding savings or checking account
  • create a CD account
  • invest it in
  • go for your favorite authentic cuisine restaurant
  • plan a short weekend outing
  • get yourself something that you were long waiting to buy
  • secure your annual subscriptions (my annual Netflix subscription is $120, my annual HSBC CreditKeeper bill is $84)
I am planning to put my one whole paycheck towards my car loan this month.

What are your plans?
Where else do you think can one spend an extra paycheck wisely? Please leave comment.

Jun 29, 2009

Tips For Saving On Traffic Fines: Handling Traffic Stops

With the Independence Long Weekend around the corner, I thought of writing something about road-trips. I just love them!


Recently I went to Wilmington, DE on my first longest road-trip since I bought my car. Though it was (only?) 5 hours drive but driving alone all-the-way down and coming back isn't that exciting! (driving pleasures apart) It was a Saturday morning when I started, drove through New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware; while the surroundings change there were few common things throughout: us behind the wheels trying to stick to our plans and those watching us doing so safely. Yeah, those here refer to the state patrol troops, rangers and police officers. While they do their duty penalizing if we disobey, we still have chances to save on those fines.


On my way to Delaware I saw some cars pulled over and may be most of them got fined for violating traffic laws, that left me pondering over the topic and inspired me to share this on Let's Be Curious. This is what the article is about: tips on how to tackle a traffic stop and avoid getting a fine.
  • Yearly Speeding Tickets by State

Governor's Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is a non-profit organization which administers several programs to enforce safe driving habits on interstates. GHSA conducts and publishes relevant surveys from time to time under title 'Survey Of The States'. Most recent and relevant one I found was published in 2005 based on three years data on 'speeding' habits.

I was amazed by the numbers when I grazed over the report. Let me tabulate some of the eye-catchers:

State
Average Speeding Citations Over Past Few years
California 957,758
Texas 553,912
Illinois 441,303
Dist. Of Columbia 385,618
Massachusetts 363,688
North Carolina 360,000
Maryland 358,729
South Carolina 280,142
Pennsylvania 224,258

Note: Although GHSA operates in all states but data for some of them was not available, including New York!

This table itself is enough to give an idea about how much revenue these citations might be generating for the states, worth driving and behaving careful while at the wheels fellas, read on ...
  • The Golden Rule - Keep Watching For Signs On Road
No sign will ever say "there's a cop ahead", but they do tell us what cops don't want us to do. It's really simple and I shouldn't be telling you if you have a valid driving license: keep scanning the road signs while you are driving and follow them, because,

- it is safe
- it is recommended
- it gives you sufficient time to adjust to changing traffic conditions
  • Dealing With A Traffic Ticket
Let's get down to business. So you see flashing lights in your rear mirror and (to make it worse) hear sirens calling you from continuing your journey, what to do next? How to talk to the officer? What to say? (More importantly) What NOT to say?
    1. Stop Immediately, Safely and Properly
The officer behind you is there because you (potentially) had violated a law, start acting responsibly asap. Keep the following things in mind while pulling over:

a) Pull-off to a safe position on right, if there is shoulder then stop on the
shoulder

b) Turn-off engine
c) Keep your driver license and vehicle registration ready
d) Roll down driver side window, if not already
e) Keep both your hands on steering
f) Think what is the speed limit of this zone. If you don't remember use your
experience and judgement to come-up with something logical and safe.

Traffic stops are supposed to be very dangerous tasks in a Police Officer's day-to-day activities and thus they are extra cautious when approaching the stopped vehicle. Any kind of movement in the vehicle by driver OR any of passengers is seen as highly suspicious, don't just do it. If you are in between any of the above steps when officer approaches, just stop whatever you are doing. Stay calm and wait for the officer's arrival at your window.
    1. Be Quiet, Let Officer Say The First Words - The 2 Important Questions
Remember, any thing you say can be used against you in court so don't talk in the hurly-burly, be calm and let the officer begin the conversation. Almost all the traffic stops follow two questions to the driver:

a) Do you know why you are stopped?
b) Do you know at what speed you were going?

Every traffic ticket can be challenged in court and this is officer's attempt to make you admit something which will wipe out all your chances to do so. Take your time to collect yourself and answer when you are ready. Below are the best of the responses to above questions:

a) Do you know why you are stopped? Answer: No officer.
b) Do you know at what speed you were going? Answer: Use the limit you
recollected/calculated as told in the previous section.

Never even try to admit what went wrong on your part, there are high chances that you might say something which the officer had not yet noticed. Never say you don't know what speed you were going at, you are responsible for maintaining your speed within safe limits and that's what the speed limit signs are meant for.

Based on my experience with speed limits in New York state, here are few limits I always remember:

a) Interstates - 65 mph
b) State Highways - 55 mph
c) When entering a city/town/village - 45 mph
d) City/Village/Town - 30-35 mph
e) Watch out for reduced speeds for road works
  1. Be Polite And Respect Their Job
The officer who stopped you might be starving, experiencing extreme weather conditions and what not, just to make the roads safer for everybody. Being rude, arrogant, insulting or authoritative is the easiest way to invite a traffic ticket. Officers, many a times, stay neutral about citations until they talk to the driver. You may want to consider this situation, it is very likely that an officer may just let you go with a warning word. Moreover an officer's testimony to your arrogant behavior may result in the judge to sentence increased fines in court. Respect officers, they are doing their jobs to make our road trips and journeys enjoyable and safe.
  1. If You Get A Ticket, Plead Not-Guilty ASAP
If above steps didn't work and you got home with a ticket then immediately plead not-guilty and return the ticket to the court at the earliest possible. It's always suggested to accompany your plea with a letter to District Attorney (DA) explaining:

a) Who are you

b) You realize the severity of getting points on your driving record
c) Your have an impeccable record so far
d) Request to dismiss a ticket or at least reduce the fine and/or points

Many a times it is also suggested to try to postpone the appearance date in court in a hope for the officer who issued you the ticket would not show and ticket will be dismissed, I am not sure how much this trick may help, let me know if you have had any such experience.
  1. Consult Any Free Services Available
Look around and find out if there are any free suggestions available to you. Talk to friends, tweet your questions, ask for experiences, what-to's and what-not-to's. Communicate on Orkut, Facebook, MySpace, etc ........... Most universities usually have a free law consulting department for students, find that out if you are a student. Many traffic lawyers give limited suggestions without charging any fee.
  1. Be Ready To Accept Any Deal Offered In Court
Appear on time at court on the given date. Carry all required documents. Upon reaching, look for the DA or the officer who cited you. It happens both ways: the officer (or DA) fights to have you pay the fine to the state treasury while you try to eliminate any fine or at least minimize it. In an attempt to make this happen in a mutually beneficial way, the authorities typically make you an offer. The offers may vary among a wide number of options but mainly to:

a) reduce the fine
b) reduce the points on your record
c) reduce both
d) reduce severity/charges of the ticket

Usually accepting these offers results in reduced fines, at least; only thing they need you to do is accept the reduced charges. There have been many instances when people rejected the offers and contended to prove their case, resulting in a win and dismissal of all citations. However, to make sure winning a case in a traffic court needs rigorous planning and adequate evidences, if you are confident you have those, it's worth giving it a try.
  • Try To Avoid A Ticket In Future
Start taking lessons from life right away, do your best to avoid getting into the traffic ticket traps again. Always follow traffic rules, never violate a law, drive safe and make proper decisions. If you had got a traffic ticket and managed to get out of it or got your fines reduced, please leave your story and any tips for readers.

Jun 25, 2009

Free: Nescafe Taster's Choice Samples, 6 Flavors

Love coffee? Get this!

Nescafe is sending out stick pack samples of 6 Taster's Choice Flavors absolutely free. All you have to do is click here to register on the website and fill-in your name and mailing details. Only conditions are:
  • 1 sample per person
  • 2 sample per household
OK we can be that content, can't we?

Nescafe believes it will "make a believer out of you", let's se how much weight their claim holds. Leave me a comment below if you find your free samples enjoying!

By the way, Let's Be Curious completes 2 months today! :) :) :)

Jun 22, 2009

Quicken Reveals - II: Harms Of Misjudging Grocery Needs

According to my Quicken analysis, Groceries make up 4% of my total expenses. Yeah this is one of the advantages to single-never-married individuals. I believe groceries eat up a huge share of family's total income every week or every month.
  • Some Grocery Shopping Facts
Let me share some of the things I know about grocery shopping. I am certain there are a bevy of experienced people than me so feel free to leave me comments if I am missing any. Whenever I am planning to visit my grocery store I make sure that:
  1. I check my shelves and refrigerator to notice any items I am missing
  2. I check my shelves and refrigerator to see any items that may exhaust over coming week
  3. I make a list of grocery items I need to buy and try not to deviate from my list
  4. I stack-up any coupons I may have
  5. I shop as earliest in a day as possible, I get freshly stocked stuff doing so
  6. I don't rush through the store, it disables my ability to make free and wise decisions
  7. I am not hungry
  • Numbers Say So ...
My monthly gorceries totalled $263 in January 2009. It didn't shock me then but I was stunned when I was going over my Quicken account. While today I know that many families of 4 or 5 manage to survive in $150, I was totally unaware of the facts then. The number stroked $147 in February 2009 and again rose to $245 in March. I hope you see what the problem was here, let me reiterate, these are the grocery expenses of a single person.
  • When I realized The Problem
I was talking to a friends and we were discussing our monthly grocery bills. He was appalled on hearing my bills as he could manage the same within $40 living with three other roommates.

It was then when I realized what was probably going wrong. It struck me that most of the stuff I was buying in a week wasn't being completely consumed by 3 or 4 weeks after that and this wasn't holding me back from restocking week after week.
  • What Did I Do For It?
I strictly followed the 7 ways I mentioned above. Having a look in the fridge and store before leaving for shopping helps a big deal. Another important thing to realize for me was my journey from on-campus job to a full-time job. I was spending more since I started earning more, but then I gave some serious thought to start saving money for future and buy (mostly) based on need than want.
  • Result
Yes this was enough! I spent only $72 in groceries in April 2009 that is whopping 70% drop in my bill followed by May when I spent $78. April gave me a good inspiration and encouragement continuing to ponder over money matters and spending wisely.

If you take a look at my Quicken Grocery Trend above, you can appreciate the difference between the first three months and last three months. Yes, 70% drop it is ;)

Have you ever struggled to bring down your groceries bills? What techniques you use to keep hold of your grocery bills? Please leave me a comment!

Jun 18, 2009

McAfee Virus Scan Plus 2009: Free After Main-In Rebate From Amazon

You must be accessing your bank records and other important details daily from your computer, then why take chances? If already don't have any latest security software then here's the deal. Amazon is selling McAfee's Virus Scan Plus 2009 for $50. After filling-in the $50 mail-in rebate form the brand anti-virus and anti-spyware with firewall and website safety ratings is all yours for absolutely free.

Just click here to buy the software and download the rebate form to fill.

Keep in mind:
  • purchase must be made before June 30th, 2009
  • one rebate per household
  • rebate forms to be post marked by July 30th, 2009

Let me know your experience with your new security software!

Jun 16, 2009

Update: "No Eat-Out Month" Experiment

So how am I doing? Almost half of June has gone since I started my No Eat-Out Month Experiment, I thought why not share my eat-out details with you.

When it comes to food I can't be as honest as otherwise, I know but that's .... my weakness! So let's see where have I spent in the last 15 days:

* Coffee: $17.79
* Panera Bread: $7.89

------------------------
Total: $25.68

I anticipated on the very on-set of this seemingly experimental activity of mine, that it is impossible for me to spend nothing on eating out but yeah the above figures, kind of, look like going in the direction of success ;) I spent $124 on food in May '09 which prompted me to sort to this activity and now the total is way too low, yup it is working fellas ....

However, $17.79 for only coffee is bad enough, I agree, but this time it wasn't me alone. I got pleasant company of my brother-in-law who is visiting the US on his business trip of a month or so. We spent this past weekend together roaming around in the suburbs of Wilmington, DE. Fortunately and unfortunately, I could only spend on coffee. Well in the end we had wonderful and eventful time!

I will post again when this experiment concludes on July 1, 2009 with actual figures of my eat-out spendings and how was this experience for me to go through. Till then, let's hope I don't spend a big chunk there ;)

How practical do you think these experiments are? Have you undergone any such by yourself? If so, how was it? Did you achieve what you aimed for? Leave a comment!

Jun 15, 2009

Journey From On-Campus Job to Full-Time Job


As we drive through our lives we take some valuable turns that remain scored onto the milestones of our living avenues. Getting into graduate school, going through the rigorous program and now getting accustomed to full-time job routine was one such turn for me. Being a student has taught me million things and so will the employee life but this transition left me pondering over few clouds of monetary inclinations that change over time and the way they change.

I had been little nostalgic about my college days lately. Those days of academic struggle, the times of temporary hardships, the laborious work hours to earn meager but seemingly ample wages, the fast ticking of my clock, those anticipated-ly productive but worthless night-outs before exams, ... and list goes on and on and on. Suddenly all golden memories have come to life today on my mind's screen.

Forgive me if this read like an article about my college time memories but it isn't. I mentioned those recollections because our college guy also has similar reminiscence. Oh, the college guy, I went to college with him, my friend. I can't believe I started working full-time 6 months ago but this person was always there with me. So let me share some of his traits with you today.
  • Survival of a student
If you are not counted among the few elites on campus, your life might not be just as comfortable. Our college guy came to school with the burden of a huge educational loan and was really committed to putting all he could into studies. He roofed himself in a cheap apartment and worked hard the maximum allowable hours on-campus aiming to earn as much as possible while attempting to ace his courses. Life could be managed with lower hours but he couldn't leave the desire to earn extra.

A saver indeed, bought only what he needs, saved whatever he could, stashed it in his bank account with negligible interest. Had $1 cheese pizza slices for lunch to save on food, saved $1 bus fares by not going to malls on weekends.

What a saver, wasn't he? Yes that's past tense there, because our college guy eventually graduated and found a full-time job for himself. But then what? Continue reading ...
  • Living the life
My friend is not going to take any criticism after living that frugal and savvy life he lived as I depicted above, it is the time and he has big cash-flow running in to his pocket. He is ought to live the life king-size. Isn't he?

A luxury apartment was indeed a dream. Hours are fixed so no worries of working more. But the views are drastically changed now. He doesn't take lunch to work rather eats out daily. Buys what he wants, keeps absolutely no account for his balances. Bought himself a nice ride, goes to mall quite frequently. Planning to marry soon, but planning to save then.

He is in his twenties, can still be some of a saver he was in college and this time his savings habits would damn going to be a boon. But no, he has started to feel light, seemingly on that heavy paycheck he is enjoying the sight of all those monetary restrictions of yore down below the height of his flight. But in this flight to nowhere, he probably forgot about his burden of educational loan and much more ...
  • Who is College Guy?
Let me stop here folks. My college guy is nobody else but one of us. This is a story of thousands like me and may be you yourself. I am not a proponent of being an ultimate saver and living a pathetically frugal life. Rather I believe in wanting to achieve what I need and what I enjoy in comparison to feeling royal at present and taste the lacking next moment. College guy was supposed to put his hard earned wealth of knowledge and experience to work here, he could be much more self-content in the practicality of this real world than living the disgruntled life he is about to see.
  • So what's the conclusion?
I have seen many friends making this transition and completely changing their lifestyles ignorant of their imminent repent. We seem to learn the lesson the hard way but the time has started to give way now, if it can't be earlier it is going to be another bad day really soon in future.
I could ascertain two reasons to this whole social pattern of progress culminated ignorance:
  1. while being students we always dream of the life after graduation. School life is full of short turns but life after that is not going to be one. Instead of anticipating what's around the corner down the lane, students ought to plan to witness any surprises. Those 2-4 years could be easily managed without any pondering but life after graduation takes a lot of planning. The real challenge starts then and will be on till the end.
  2. money saved is money earned, a long proved modus operandi. While all visit the "money earned" part, many ignore the "money saved" part.
There are numerous Personal Finance blogs today talking about budgeting, saving and frugality. It's not just about students but we all have, during some part of our lives, not just learned these tricks but even applied those skills to our daily lives. We tend to, however, forget to take these practices forward with us. It is human tendency to follow what we couldn't do but quite often we forget to continue what we know how to do. Once we start earning more, we tend to feel the freedom of our mind from the shackles of monetary fears. While we start to spend in all ways we wished, we forget that we also saved, budgeted and lived a frugal life then.

Being today's GenY, current graduates represent tomorrow's future. I am far away from politics and don't know a word about GenY's contribution in future economy. But I know that GenY makes-up a gigantic portion of society and thus influence greatly the monetary practices of the world. Being part of today's turmoil demands the youth to garner all they have experienced and all they are witnessing now, and strike the future with such a vigor that time doesn't see such a fiscal despair again.

I'm in a Blog Carnival
: This post was among the ones exhibited in Carnival of Money Stories at The Consumer Boomer. I am excited about your presence on my blog today and would be glad to know about your thoughts on this post and my blog, hope to see you around :) Consider subscribing to my feed or updates by e-mail.

Jun 9, 2009

Welcome BargainBabe Readers

A warm Welcome to Bargain Babe's readers at Let's Be Curious!

I feel admired by your pleasant presence on my blog and wish to create a continued relationship with you as a reader of Let's Be Curious. Consider subscribing to my RSS Feed.

Feel free to browse through my posts, however, to save your time here are the best of Let's Be Curious:
Hope you enjoyed reading my article at BargainBabe.com and found it interesting that how pondering about non-monetary factors may result in reaping smarter value of your money. I'd love to know about your experiences and comments about my articles and my blog.

Hope to see you around! :)

Jun 5, 2009

Quicken Reveals - I: "No Eat-Out Month" Experiment

I was looking at my Quicken view of spendings and was amazed at my eat-out habits. Above is the screenshot of how my expenses looked like in the last six months of 2009. I am single and a BIG foodie but still I consider above figures as holes in my pocket!

Analysis
I spent $124 on eat-outs in May 09 making up 10% of my spendings. If sweet little February 09 is ignored then almost every month I am spending $109 on the average. Hey and just look at the goals I set, the red line in the graph marked as 'Budget', it's always way below the actual expenditure. My goal was $50 in May and I spent $124, 2.48 times more!

I Was Aware
I have been thinking that I am trying hard to get hold of my eat-out bills but Quicken reveals I am not, actually. I cook daily, take lunch-box to work and avoid eating outs as far as possible, but then one fine day comes and I meet with my good old friends and those meetings make it all possible.

What I'm Gonna Do
I have read people observe no-spend-day and believe me I literally spend only 2-3 days a week. I also agree with Ramit Sethi that one should take gradual steps towards their goals and this implies cutting down my eat-out bills gradually but this ain't gonna work for me. Whatever I decide, I will always spend more on food so why not set my spending limit to the least!

So this is what I am gonna do: I am pledging to eat nothing out this month. Already 5 days are gone and fortunately I haven't spend a buck on food out of home.

Will It Work
I am certain that my eat-out bills can absolutely not be $0 but yeah if I attempt to achieve that, it will be certainly less than $124 this time.

Is It Worth It
I am not expecting a jackpot, nor I will save a million doing this but I believe in spending on what I need and when it's needed. And that makes, at least a part of, the definition of 'Frugality'. Let's see how well can I keep upto my promise and how much can I save.


Do you notice any such 'holes' in your pocket? What's the reason? Are you doing anything about it? Do you have any suggestions for me? Comment please :)