Monday, March 16, 2009

Review: Real Simple Magazine

Happy Monday everyone! It's the beginning of a brand new week. I'm sure you have lots to do, but I have a quick review for you to start the week off.

If you're like millions of folks in America, I'm sure you've read or heard of Real Simple Magazine. I remember when they came out with their first issue. People were aflutter about this new magazine that would change the way people live.

The folks over at Real Simple contacted me about looking over their March issue. They're excited about their article about 71 ways to save money. Their total? Over $19,000 this year.

Who doesn't want to save $19,000? Okay, get outta here then. But come back tomorrow. ;)

So I dove into the magazine, remembering all the things I love about it. Their product comparisons (I personally prefer carmex and the lip conditioner from - neither of which were listed, but that's my opinion.), I adore their advice column where normal folks like you and me write in with tips, and I really like their recipes.

There are many things to love, which reminds me, I need to reup my subscription.

About their money saving article... to be honest, there were things in there that gave me good ideas, but for me personally, most of them were "been there, done that." Not to say that you won't find it useful...

But I personally have never spent $20 a week on flowers. When I read that some people do, I turned to Hubsters and said "OMG, I'm supposed to be able to spend $20 a week on flowers. Did you know this?" Yeah, I'm totally excited about that possibility.

Seriously, I have house plants. I always have. Philodendron is a great house plant, low maintenance, only asks for water every few weeks and really likes bad lighting. I also have small Boston ferns, maiden hair ferns, snake tongue plant, orchids ($7.50 at Walmart) and a variety of others. None of which I paid over $5. And there is one in every room.

Next, we don't go to movies. In fact, I waited in line at the kiosk of one of those mega theaters, got up there (it was 4pm which in our area means matinee) and the price was $10.50. 30 minutes of waiting for $10.50? I turned around and walked off. Saw the same movie at my local (still new, just not as monstrous) theater for $5. No wait. It has to be a major event (like James Bond) for us to see a movie in a theater. For a few reasons. Concessions. Overpriced? Heck yes. Insane ticket prices? Heck yes. Kids disturbing my enjoyment, people talking on cell phones, and popcorn in the hair, huh!

Do I understand that theaters have to make money some how? Yes. Do I like the prices? No. Do I have to go there? No. That's why we have a theater room in our basement. Nothing fancy. Just a TV with a stereo that provides a bit of surround sound, some old couches, comfy blankets, a discount mini fridge and an older microwave that acts as our concession area. I'm decorating it to look like an old timey theater. And guess what... no phones, no kids, no popcorn in the hair.

Honestly, did you buy one of those large flat screen TVs for Christmas? Do you have a VCR, TV and/or DVD player in your home?! RENT! Make it a Friday Night movie, complete with your own affordable popcorn, a beer, and a blanket.

We love hulu. We also subscribe to netflix. And on occasion, we'll rent from the redbox (mentioned in the article) or from our local grocery. With a handy dandy wire, we can watch hulu or netflix insta-watch on our TV in the movie room. Wire cost? $8. Do I mind seeing advertisements on hulu? NO! They're shorter than on TV. Not to mention if you get to a movie theater early (like I do) You have to watch 30 minutes of advertising anyway. 30 minutes of ads or 15 seconds worth 4 or 5 times during a show? That's whopping minute!

As for books, I support my library, but I will always buy books. I never buy hardbacks. I buy paperbacks. $3 romance novels that give me hours of enjoyment. Or ebooks. Not the $9 rip offs. Again $3 or $4 romances. Let me think..... $10.50 for a movie I may or may not enjoy (plus all above stated issues with theater watching) for 2 hours or 5 hours of blissful quiet in my own home for $3, that's such a tough decision.

Here are a few other things we did that cut back on costs:

*got rid of a land line. Hate talking on the phone anyway, and we each have a cellphone. We switched to Vonage. Cheap, free long distance. I can call Europe for a penny a minute or something like that.
* got rid of our second line and toll free line. We own our own company, thus the second line and 800 number. But those two weren't getting the use we thought they would, so chop chop.
* we reduced our cable as low as it would go. We still have high speed Internet because we own our own company... web design would be hard without it.
*we got rid of a car. Honestly, we've used one car for 5 years now. No sense keeping the other and paying insurance on something we never used.
* we found out about a group insurance rate we're eligible for. Saving over $200 a month there.
* we don't have kids = cheap.
* we don't have iPhones, big screen TVs or go on elaborate vacations. We don't drive a monster vehicle that gets 5 miles to the gallon. We don't buy expensive clothes, shoes, or jewelry.
* we love yard sales, thrift stores, etc. It's so much fund to find a "find."
* we're not afraid to redo something... a chair, a table, an accessory.
* we don't belong to a gym, country club or golf course and have never wanted to.

So where do we spend our money?
*out to eat
*house projects

It should be noted that we're very blessed. We're lucky this go round. During the last downturn in 2002, hubby was without a job for 9 months. I was still in school. We do our best to work hard, diversify our incomes, save money, have a savings. But we also don't watch the news. We try not to make decisions based on the chaotic views of some. We try to be frugal, give back to others, and lead by example. Is our way the right way? Who knows. It's our way. We're happy. We're blessed. We still buy things we want and need. We have that luxury this go round. We understand that not spending is not going to solve an economic crisis. We do things ourselves to save money, but we also hire out to help others make money.

All of that said, Real Simple gets an A. I will resubscribe. But I hope that every issue from now on is not so locked into "don't spend, save every penny" mode. That's as depressing as the news.

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