Backup Your Computer In Several Places…Or Else.

A friend of mine just had both his computer AND his external backup hard drive die on the same day. Rare? Yes…but not impossible. While I have never had anything so catastrophic happen to my computer setup, I have always backed everything up both here in my house and online each day. I use an external Western Digital Passport drive with Time Machine (the built-in Apple backup application) that backs up my data every hour, and I also use BackBlaze to do daily backups over the internet. That first online backup took a few days, but now it only takes a few minutes per day (at most) because it only backs up changed files. My friend luckily used Mozy for his own online backup, so within a few days they sent him all his data via mail for him to reinstall on his now fixed computer. Thank goodness for online backups, because if he hadn’t been doing his, everything on his computer and external drive would have been gone – music, family photos, important documents – everything. And since my entire life is now digital (all my music, videos, “paperwork”, etc) is on my computer, backups are incredibly important to keep me from losing all my stuff. The lesson learned here? Don’t just do external hard drive backups, but also start doing online backups as well. BackBlaze is $5 a month for backup, and it’s the best $5 I have spent lately. Backup your computer…or else.


Current Costs To Check Baggage On Different Airlines.

As if you needed yet another reason to avoid flying, right? I haven’t flown in almost 3 years now, choosing instead to take Amtrak or even drive rather than step foot inside an airport. Every airline, except Southwest, now charges at least $15 to check a single bag aboard your flight – which is ridiculous, if you ask me. All it leads to is people trying to cram everything in oversized carry-on bags, leaving no room for everyone else on board to even bring a backpack. And since the story of increasing costs/headaches with air travel is on the news every day, I went and looked up the costs to check bags on every major U.S. airline…and this is what I found.

Alaska Air – $15 for the first bag, $25 for the second bag. Overweight bags are an extra $49.

American Airlines – $25 for the first bag, $35 for the second bag. Any more bags than that are $100 each. Overweight bags are an extra $50.

Continental Airlines – $25 for the first bag, $35 for the second bag. A few bucks cheaper if checked online. Overweight bags are an extra $50.

Delta Airlines – $25 for the first bag, $35 for the second bag. A few bucks cheaper if checked online. Overweight bags are an extra $55.

JetBlue – $0 for the first bag, $30 for the second bag. Overweight bags are an extra $20.

Southwest Airlines – $0 for the first bag, $0 for the second bag. Overweight bags are $50.

United Airlines – $25 for the first bag, $35 for the second bag. Overweight bags are an extra $125. (Yikes)

Virgin Airlines – $25 for the first bag, $25 for the second bag, and so on. You can check up to 10 bags. First bag can weigh up to 70 lbs with no additional charge; bags 2-10 can weigh up to 50 lbs.

So in addition to the hundreds you pay for the tickets, parking, transportation to and from, you now have to pay money just to bring a bag with you. My recommendation? Fly Southwest or discover traveling by Amtrak, my favorite way to go!


On Taking Your Social Security Payments Early.

My mom finally called the other day to find out about taking my dad’s social security payments. We have been telling her to look into it now that she is getting close to the retirement age, and I wanted her to find out the different monthly dollar amounts she would receive if she started taking payments now at 65, in a few years at 67, or in 5 years at 70 years old. I am so glad that she called, as after she listened to the guy at the SS office and letting me run some numbers, we decided it was best for her to start taking the payments now rather than waiting a little. While some people think it’s a bad thing to take the payments somewhat early, I figured it was actually beneficial to my mom to do so.

The guy at the SS office explained it like this – while you could realistically expect maybe an extra $100 per month (more or less) for life if you wait a little longer, you are also giving up a few thousand dollars each month by waiting to take anything. Let’s look at the math for a second, with some hypothetical numbers:

Scenario #1 – Mom waits 2 years to start taking monthly payments. Payment at that point is $2,000 per month. If she lives till she is 85, that’s a total of $432,000 being paid out over 18 years.

Scenario #2 – Mom starts taking payments now at 65 years old. Payments would be $1,875 per month. If she lives to the same 85 years old, she would be paid a total of $450,000 over 20 years.


See the difference? Just by giving up $125 per month and starting to take the payments now, she has the potential to receive much more in payments over the long term. The guy at the SS office was right – sure, you may be giving up a little per month for life by taking payments now, but how many thousands are you giving up per month until you start taking the payments? So if you or a loved one is nearing Social Security age and contemplating when to take the benefits, make sure you do the math and see the whole picture – not just the monthly dollar amount. Giving up a little bit each month could mean getting much more in the long term!

Photo by Fabricator of Useless Articles


Sunday Money Roundup – Move Your Money Edition.

Have you heard about the Move Your Money campaign yet? Thousands of people have pledged to move their money away from the casino-style Too Big To Fail banks and give their money to community banks and credit unions. I moved all my money away from Bank of America into Schwab – which while not a credit union, they didn’t take a dime of bail out money. If you bank with one of the huge banks, you may want to check out the campaign! On to the roundup…

Your Finances 101 talks about a recent experience with Pep Boys with Don’t Be a Mule: Auto Repair.

Free From Broke wants to know if you have what it takes to manage your own money.

Frugal For Life talks about 5 Steps to the Essential Frugal Life. Always great stuff from Dawn.

The Wisdom Journal has a great post up about 101 money myths. Check it out.

DebtFree Adventure provides readers with a Simple Family Budget Spreadsheet.

Money Smart Life tells you when you can expect your tax refund.

Frugal Babe does some More Estate Planning. Have you started your estate planning? Me neither.

Early Retirement Extreme talks about the 100 Things Challenge. Is it a realistic way of looking at your “stuff” or just a minimalist fad? Great post.


My New Favorite Site- Groupon: Collective Buying Power.

I found this site today and I wanted to share it with you guys as soon as possible. Groupon features an unbeatable deal on the best stuff to do, see, eat, and buy in your city, and by promising businesses a minimum number of customers, they get discounts you otherwise would never get. To sign up you just enter your email address and your city, and each morning you get a new Groupon that you can buy into. If enough people buy the deal, then everyone gets it. If not enough people do, the deal is canceled. And if you refer a friend to the website and your friend makes their first purchase within 72 hours from the time they click on the referral link you send them, you get $10 worth of credits in your account. (No, I didn’t put my account referral in this post, as I just wanted to tell you guys about it) It’s a pretty simple premise, really, and I wonder why I didn’t think of it myself. Here is what the site looks like:


I looked at Los Angeles (since I am moving back there this year) just to see what today’s deal was, and it was for a 40% discount on a Jeep-Drawn wagon tour of the San Andreas fault. $45 instead of $75…how cool is that? Anyway, I highly recommend you check it out for your area and see what kinds of deals they have. Seems they have press from every major newspaper yet I hadn’t heard of them before. So glad I found them, though!

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