Thursday, May 26, 2016

Pinching the Phone Bill

Recently, Brandon and I noticed our 12 month deal we had negotiated with Time Warner Cable had come to an end. Our bill was going to jump $25 for just internet and phone!  (Side note: Don't just accept rate raises. Call and negotiate your cable bill yearly! That's a subject for a future blog post.)

We pretty much use our cell phones all the time; but, my mother has a difficult time hearing us on the cell phones, so we added a landline for her since it was basically free with the deal we negotiated with Time Warner Cable a year ago.  When we called this year, we were able to renegotiate our cable internet bill down to an acceptable price, but they were still going to charge us $20 extra for the phone. And, sorry, Mom, but $20/month is a lot to pay so you can hear us better!

We decided to go ahead and drop the phone, and I started doing research to see what we could replace it with.  I discovered something that seemed almost too good to be true: OBiTALK. It's a tiny little box that uses Google Voice to provide phone service, and we were able to get on Amazon for a one-time cost of $42. With a monthly bill of $0. Perfect! I was a bit skeptical, but we figured it was worth a try because this was our one option of keeping mom happy.

It uses Google Voice to provide phone service, which is free.  We already had a Google Voice number so we elected to use that, but we could have kept our phone number for a $20 one-time fee. Google Voice has a lot of free features, including voicemail, voicemail transcription, conference calls, call blocking, etc . You can check them out here: The one thing Google Voice does NOT support is 911 calls, If this feature is important to you, please check out calling 911 with an OBi.

When we got the box, we were really happy to see how small it was. It was about the size of the palm of a hand (SO much better than the monstrosity we had gotten from the phone company).  We plugged it into the internet/router, followed the directions, and we had it set up in about ten minutes.

The real test, though, was calling mom.  So, we held our breath and dialed.  Mom loved it! She said it was even clearer than the TWC line. Phew!  Needless to say, we're pretty ecstatic. Mom is happy because she can hear us, and we're happy because we were able to SAVE!

OBiTALK has quite a few different devices. You can get a phone adapter to plug your phone into, or you can just get an OBiTALK phone. Check them out below.

Please share in the comments below how you save on your bills!

Keep on pinching!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Saving Money with Your Smartphone - Ibotta

It's probably not surprising, given that I'm always looking for ways to save, that I have lots of apps on my phone that save me money.

I like coupons. However, I never seem to remember to check for printable coupons before I go to the store; and, even when I do, only a few of them ever seem to match what I wish to purchase.

Enter Ibotta. I was introduced to this app by a friend of mine who enjoys saving money, too, and it quickly became my favorite coupon app. Firstly, it allows you to save on non-name brand items. You can get $.20 off any brand of bananas! It often has discounts for any (or non) brand pasta, coffee, ice cream, potatoes, tomatoes, apples and many more. In addition, it has quite a variety of name brand items. Of course, they don't have just food coupons, they have offers for other merchants, like $15 off $75 at Eddie Bauer or coupons for $10 off any HP printer at Best Buy.

You can go to their website to select current available items and print a shopping list; or, if you don't remember until you're in the store (like me!) you can browse the list on your app. You can even take a look at the app after you've already shopped and gotten your items home to see if there's any coupons for items you already purchased if you forgot to look earlier (also like me!).

It's pretty simple to save using Ibotta:

  1. Sign up at or download the app from your app store (if you use referral code of qfivxeh, you'll receive $1 right away just for signing up!)
  2. Browse the shopping list on the website or on your app
  3. Add items that interest you on the website or on the app (by clicking on the little heart icon in the top right of the app screen)
  4.  You might need to "unlock" certain offers by answering a single survey question, viewing a recipe, or watching a short advertisement.
  5. Shop!
  6. Take a picture of your receipt, select the items you purchased, verify, and submit
    • It's possible, if you have a loyalty card with your retailer, that you don't even need to take a picture of your receipt! See under "Help" for details!
  7. Watch your savings grow!
Please share your favorite money-saving apps in the comments below! And, if you have friends who like saving money, please feel free to use the sharing links at the bottom of this post.

Keep on pinching!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Saving Money Online - Coupons

The internet is a treasure trove for bargain shoppers. There's usually a coupon out there for anywhere I want to shop - free shipping, percentages off, free items, and more! It's another reason why most of my shopping is online.

While (see my previous post) usually provides coupon codes in addition to the cash back rebate, I always like to check to see if there is a better offer available.

My old method of finding coupons was to just do a simple search. For example, I would type
"coupon for Kohls" into the browser. Multiple websites would come up, and I could comb through them looking for the best coupon. This is still a great way to find coupons. However, with having less time to look for coupons, I was thrilled to find a site that always seemed to have the best coupons available. It's probably because a community of bargain shoppers can share the deals they find.

This wonderful site is..... RetailMeNot

It's not necessary to create an account to find and use savings; but, if you join the community, and you post coupons or share coupons you find with your friends, you not only help others but gain points which can lead to prizes and rewards for you.

One pointer, though: if you want to use both the rebates from MrRebates and coupons from RetailMeNot (double savings!), make sure that the you click through MrRebates and continue to use the page that you accessed from the MrRebates link. If you start using a page that pops up from RetailMeNot, MrRebates will not know about the purchase, and you won't get credit for it.

My online saving process:

  1. Go to RetailMeNot and look to see what coupons are available. (Sometimes the coupons are not available until you click through; so, if you need to, click through and write down the coupon code.)
  2. Pull up in a separate tab or window to see if the store is available and what coupons are available
  3. Click through to the desired store and shop like normal. Make sure to enter the coupon code you got from RetailMeNot or MrRebates before checking out! 
Please share your favorite coupon websites or ways to save money in online shopping in the comments section below!

Keep on pinching!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Saving Money Online -

I shop online a lot. It's just more convenient than making time to stop at a store, there's a lot more variety to choose from and then it's like Christmas when the package arrives on my front porch! In addition, there are lots of ways to save money online. I hate paying shipping, so free shipping is one of the things I look for.

My absolutely favorite way to save money online is using MrRebates. It's like going to a big online mall and clicking on my favorite store. It often has coupons right there; and, in addition, you can get a rebate back on the purchase you were going to make anyway! It has most of the big name websites: WalMart, Target, Home Depot, Lowe's, FTD Flowers, Orbitz, Priceline, and many more. For example, if you're going to pay $500 for a hotel stay through Orbitz, and you click through MrRebates, you'll currently get a 3% rebate or $15 back!

I've earned anywhere from 1% to 20% back on a purchase. As you can see below, in the time that I've used MrRebates, I've received $1,815.90 back on purchases I would have made anyway!

So, if you wanted to get started:
  1. Sign up at MrRebates
  2. Search for the store where you plan to shop
  3. Click through the link and shop like normal!
Remember, anytime you want to shop online, look at MrRebates first! The rebates add up quickly; and, before you know it, you'll be requesting your first payment!

Keep on pinching!

Welcome to my new blog!

Hi, my name is Christa, and I am a penny pincher. Having lived on very small income most of my life, I've become an expert. I squeeze every bit of enjoyment out of every penny I spend. Hey, if we save money, that means we have more to spend (and save for the future)! However, I'm always looking for new ways to save, so please comment below with some of the ways that you enjoy saving!