A couple of years ago we paid a tax professional to help us with our taxes. Bill did a great job and got us a maximum refund. It was at that same time that we heard about Turbo Tax online Tax Freedom deal. If you meet certain criteria (lower income, military service or you qualify for the Earned Income Credit) you can use Turbo Tax for free. We ran our numbers through Turbo Tax and got the same result as the paid professional. Since that time we’ve been using Turbo Tax for our own taxes and for our kids too.
We're planning a trip to San Antonio, Texas to cheer as our son Roy graduates from Air Force basic training. We're checking rental car prices and looking for the best rates. We'll be comparing the Entertainment Book, AARP, AAA and any other discount plans we can get, and we'll let you know the results.
If you have any suggestions on who to quote, let us know.
We're starting with Thrifty, Budget and Enterprise.
When our kids were younger, we'd buy lots of party decorations and party favors from Oriental Trading Company. Whenever the catalog would arrive, each of the kids would spend hours circling the "cool" things that they wanted to have for toys and as trinkets to decorate with when guests arrived. We experienced good delivery and good customer service.
Looking for a thrift store near your home or when you're visiting a new city? TheThriftShopper.com is a great web site that will let you search by zip code to find stores in your area. As of May 2010 there are over 9300 stores listed nationwide (and they're always looking for more).
We've always bought gently used pre-owned cars (from individual owners, not dealers). One book we read calculated that over a lifetime the difference between buying new cars (with financing) and paying cash for gently used cars can save you over $128,000. We don't know about saving that much money, but we do know that we've never had a car payment, never paid a penny in interest on car loans and always found great deals on used cars.
We use Macintosh computers (always bought used) at our house. They cost a little more, but we've never had a virus problem . . . ever. But we have had hard-drives die and that has created all kinds of problems. In the past we regularly backed-up our writing (books and columns), email and other data to dvd's and stored them in a safe-deposit box at our bank. It was time consuming, but it saved us loss of data a couple of times.
Remember that most retailers kick off the holiday buying season on the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday) by dropping some killer deals. You can get a jump start on your holiday shopping and planning by visiting web sites that publicize many of those deals in advance. We use:
Having multiple sources for coupons will always save you money. We swap unused coupons from the Sunday paper with several friends. The result is that we often end up with several copies of really valuable coupons — this makes stocking up and saving money much easier.