Posts Tagged ‘free stuff’

What the heck is Open Source?

Monday, April 20th, 2009

A few years ago, I was introduced to the concept of Open Source software, that is software that is non-proprietary and in other words, free.  In the world of Open Source, you have simplified, user-friendly versions of the Microsoft Office suite (i.e. Open Office) as well as pretty much anything else you can imagine.  Mozilla Firefox is a great example of Open Source software that works very well.

If you like this concept, are a tiny bit computer savvy and are tired of paying through the nose for various types of software, Open Source might be the way to go.  To get you started, here are two great Open Source sites:

Open Source As Alternative: www.osalt.com  This site will help you find Open Source alternative to your favorite proprietary programs.

For Windows users, there is also: www.opensourcewindows.org

Finally, definitely check out www.cnet.com.  They have a giant proprietary and non-proprietary download database plus user reviews that are extremely helpful–which is where I learned about my favorite encryption software, TrueCrypt.

Because of the nature of my work, I need to have my data and backup sources encrypted at all times.  And encryption software and support can be expensive, time consuming, and not to mention scary if you don’t install it correctly.

After carefully reading through the TrueCrypt instructions, and following them step-by-step, I found it quite easy to use.  If you have a need for this type of software, check it out on www.truecrypt.org.  It works with Windows, Mac & Linux.

Have a great week!

Copyright 2008-2009 Kristin Delfau, author of Turbo-Mom's Guide to Saving Money Without Wasting Time a womens' personal finance book, and Aji Publishing.

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Guilt-Free Shopping

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Hi Everyone! Sorry for the posting delay…tax season makes it a bit crazy for me!

A special hello to all of the new visitors coming from the Blog Party at 5minutesformom!

So what is guilt-free shopping? It’s when you buy something and you know you can afford it because there is money in the bank to pay for it!  In our house, we stick to a debit/cash payment style 95% of the time.  The only time we use a credit card is when making an online purchase for something like airfare, where we don’t find it to be a good idea to put our debit card number out on the web, even if it does have a Visa logo on it. 

But what happens when you are not in guilt-free shopping mode?  What if there are credit card bills piling up?  Where do you start to undo them?

The lousy part of this economy is that it brings out the vultures in our society–those who prey on people suffering.  Those who say they can “fix” your credit if you just pay them $500 or $1000  and they will get everything fixed for you.  Or they tell you you can “just declare bankruptcy” and that will work.  And then when it doesn’t work out you feel double-ripped off and helpless.

If you or someone you know is having problems managing their debt, there is a legit non-profit out there to help.   Try www.debtadvice.org.  This is the website for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, a branch of Consumer Credit Counseling Services (www.cccsinc.org).  With these folks, you have the opportunity to work with a trained, certified NFCC counselor.  And you can achieve for free or very little cost what these debt settlement companies may charge thousands of dollars for. 

I actually called these folks and interviewed one of their staff members for my book and asked every question I could think of to determine their legitimacy and understand how they work to make sure I wasn’t recommending a group that would rip off my readers.  These are good folks that can get you on the right track when you are ready to take control of your debt.  Then it is 100% guilt-free shopping!

Copyright 2008-2009 Kristin Delfau, author of Turbo-Mom's Guide to Saving Money Without Wasting Time a womens' personal finance book, and Aji Publishing.

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Springtime, Yard Stuff, & A Special Treat

Monday, March 16th, 2009

March in CT is a time that fills me with happiness–spring is near–but dread as well…because it means yard work!

Saving money and time with gardening can be really challenging, particularly if you live in an area of the country where you sort of feel like the weeds are in charge no matter what you do!  And landscaping  services might be out of your price  range. 

So here’s what I’ve found that can help:

Get yourself some good tools. Aside from rakes and the usually gardening paraphernalia, here are some gadgets that actually have worked for me:

  • Leaf picker-uppers a.k.a. leaf scoops.  I saw these on HSN last year flipping through one day for $20…and then happily found them in Walmart for $4!  They help you pick up larger bunches of leaves & debris at once, thus saving your back.  It looks like Ace Hardware sells them as well, for $7: http://www.acehardware.com/sm-gardex-leaf-scoop-gardex-leaf-scoop-price-6-99-the–pi-1278101.html
  • Weed pullers:I don’t know about you, but I find digging out dandelions to be a pain in the butt, not to mention knees and back.  Looking for a solution, I skeptically bought a Fiskars weed puller, since I saw this on some home show as being the best that they tried out.   It actually worked–and I also got to enjoy ejecting the weeds on to a tarp for easy pick up.  Here it is: http://www.fiskars.com/EX/Garden/Other+Garden+Tools/Other/Product+Detail139910.html
  • Pop-up gardening buckets a.k.a “kangaroo containers”:  Since weeding in CT is usually a big chore on a regular basis, you can easily go through 2 or 3 garbage buckets in one weeding session!  I found that the pop-up bucket makes for easier storage.  I use it with plastic garbage bags, empty the bags at the local mulching center, and then reuse them until the holes get too big.  Fiskars makes these pop-up buckets but many brands can be found on www.amazon.com if you type in “pop up gardening buckets”.

Some other tips on saving money & time w/ gardening:

  • Start clean ups early in the season.  The earlier you get on top of these problems, the more manageable they are as the months go on.  We had an instance last year where we had let a certain area get out of control and had to call in the professionals to clean it up.  After that, we were able to maintain it and not need landscaping services for the rest of the year.
  • It might be better to plant in the fall rather than the spring.  Depending on where you live, you may save yourself money and aggravation if you wait until the fall to plant trees, shrubs and bulbs.  Usually by September or October, perennials and bulbs go on sale so you are getting a discount.  Then, many plants actually have a better chance of survival because they have the whole winter to establish their root systems.  If you plant in the spring and have a hot, dry summer, you may lose more plants than had you waited until the fall to buy them. 
  • Find out if your town has a local mulching/recycling center or lawn debris pick-up.  Danbury has both; for those of you who are local and didn’t know about these services, Ferris Mulch Products is the drop-off center and it is free.  Curbside pickup is listed on the City of Danbury website, but if you want them to pick-up your stuff curbside in a reasonable amount of time, call City Hall and they’ll send a truck your way.

Happy gardening!

And since you were so kind to read to the bottom of this post…here’s a great deal that came to me by way of Christina O.  As part of a legitimate software review program, you can get yourself some free software, including products such as HGTV Home & Landscape, which sells for $99 normally. They currently have about 25 left of each to review. There are also other types of software to review including Scrapbook Factory Pro and Hallmark Card Studio.  The catch is that you have to have an Amazon.com profile and must review the software.  If you are interested in this invitation only freebie, click on this link: http://www.critiquemanager.com/review278.html and enjoy!

You can read more about the review program here: http://www.critiquemanager.com/review278.html 

Copyright 2008-2009 Kristin Delfau, author of Turbo-Mom's Guide to Saving Money Without Wasting Time a womens' personal finance book, and Aji Publishing.

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Public Libraries: A great way to save money and time

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

I don’t know how many of you utilize your local libraries, but they can be a real time and money saver.

 

I admit, ever since I was 7 or 8, I’ve loved libraries.  I almost always took out the maximum amount of books—10—and loved going through them.  Even at that time, I loved the fact that you could have lots of books for free—as long as you returned them on time.

 

Nowadays, libraries have significantly evolved and they are a great place for free stuff.  Consider this: according to the American Library Association, almost 100% of libraries now have public internet access! 

 

Many libraries also have free adult education programs on everything from learning Microsoft Excel to how to sell your items on eBay.  I attended a talk on the latter and saved myself numerous hours trying to figure out the process myself.  And I actually managed to sell a few items lingering in my closet!

 

Here are a few other things that libraries are good for:

 

  1. Saving you money on home decoration/renovation projects.  When we are getting ready for a home renovation, it can be our impulse to go to the book store and buy every book and magazine about decks or basements or kitchens.  Instead, why not go to the library, check out every book on the subject for free, and then go buy the book or two that ends up being your main inspiration?  Much cheaper.  Then you can put the money you saved on books and magazines toward your improvement.

  2. Job search materials.  Of course, there is a usual selection of job search books in the stacks, but did you know that the librarians can help you research local companies that hire in your field?  Or, if you are starting your own business, to get you in touch with the proper state offices to get yourself registered correctly? Save time by learning what they already know. 

  3. Movie rentals. Many libraries have movie rentals—which can save you a bunch in Netflix or Blockbuster fees.  Our library allows 5 movies for up to one week for free.  Also, your library may not only have the latest released blockbusters but also independent or foreign films that didn’t have the ad budget of a big studio but are nonetheless interesting.

 

So if you haven’t been in awhile, check out your local library and reap the savings!

Copyright 2008-2009 Kristin Delfau, author of Turbo-Mom's Guide to Saving Money Without Wasting Time a womens' personal finance book, and Aji Publishing.

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