8 Tips For Buying a New Cell Phone

A migraine woke me up and I spent the morning with all the curtains closed. I thought about staying home, but David promised me a new phone in August. (Yeah, August was really busy.) We had a doctor’s appointment that day in the town where there was a corporate U.S. Cellular store.

Yes, U.S. Cellular is my service provider. Why? Because U.S. Cellular covers country. In my neck of the woods, the other providers have too many holes. Southeast Iowa is not densely populated. In fact, the county south of ours does not even have one traffic light! When we looked into cell phones, U.S. Cellular was the only one that completely covered our area.

The last time David shopped for phones, he found out you can get a better deal if you go with a corporate office. He checked with the local offices and they couldn’t offer him anything. He called U.S. Cellular and was able to get 2 free phones because we have been with them since 1994.

We told Ezekiel, the representative who waited on us, that we were their oldest customer. I’m not sure that is true, but many of my friends have moved from one company to another and we chose to stick with the one we had. (Unfortunately, even after all the nice things I have said, I do not get any money from U.S. Cellular. I do not participate in affiliate marketing.)

Back to my story….the days of free phones and penny phones are gone. Now, you buy the phone on time and they give you a monthly discount of $20.00 for buying the phones from them.

We started by looking at iPhones, but I use a Samsung and a Chromebook, which are both Android products. I told Ezekiel I wanted a big phone because I am near-sighted, and I needed one that took great pictures. We looked at the LG phones next, because there was one model with a good camera. I didn’t fall in love with any of them.

Finally, we looked at the Samsung phones. I am not one who has to have the latest product. We looked at older models and found one with a “Stylus,” a small pen-shaped instrument used to input commands. Earlier I shared how I would rather write with a pen than type, see here. That was the one I wanted!

The cost of covers surprised me; most of them were $29.99 to $39.99. I asked if we could use our points to purchase a cover, but the points reward program ended last year. They did have a cover for this phone that was a flip cover for $9.99.

That’s when the debate started.

I told David I could buy the flip cover and just cut the flap off. He said the phone would not be secure because the flap had to snap into the cover. Ezekiel reminded me that I was purchasing a $535.00 phone and I should protect it. He also recommended the glass screen protector. If you drop the phone, the glass breaks, not the screen. The glass has a lifetime warranty, as long as you own the phone, and they send you a new one if it breaks.

I was overwhelmed. I like to be frugal, but I don’t want to be cheap. I knew I would hate the flip cover, but didn’t want to buy the expensive ones. I left the decision up to David because he pays the bills now. He ordered a regular cover and the glass.

I’m sure I could have gotten the phone on Ebay for less, but I could not pay for it over several months. The monthly payment is less than the $20.00 credit.

David was also eligible for a $20.00 credit on his line. He likes his phone and did not want a new one, but we asked them to add that credit to our account also because we were afraid that program might end before he needed a new phone. So his credit will offset the cost of the cover and glass screen protector. It’s a big phone and I plan on using it for several years.

Before leaving, I gave Ezekiel my business card and told him I would be blogging about buying my new phone today. He walked us to the door and opened it for us.

(Hey, Ezekiel, show this post to your boss and tell him I said you deserve a raise! Thanks for your help!)

Phone buying tips:

  1. Choose your provider based on coverage. Do you travel often? Rural area?
  2. Call or go to a corporate store.
  3. Remind them how long you have been with the company.
  4. Change phones when you are eligible for a discount. End of contract?
  5. Find the phone that fits you. Look at older models.
  6. Don’t buy something you will hate or won’t use.
  7. Do protect your investment.
  8. Take advantage of any perks, discounts, and programs offered. They don’t last forever.

How do you save money when you need a new cell phone?New Cell Phone, "8 Tips For Buying a New Cell Phone" frugalfish.org

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September Decoration Flip

Derek was not impressed when I got out my flag for September. He was hoping for colorful leaves and pumpkins. He was not expecting the apples!Fall Flag, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

But September is still warm; it was 80° yesterday. Everything is still green and you can run around barefoot.Barefoot girls on Vase, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

It is also when the fruit ripens; pears, apples, and grapes are on sale.Pear Candle, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

Rubber grapes make a nice bow on my plain wooden wreath.Wooden wreath with grapes, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

Apples and leaves are my themes for this month, mainly because I had a new, flameless candle, embedded with leaves. I set it on my apple runner and put “Apple Salt and Pepper” shakers on each side.Leaf candle with apple salt & pepper shakers, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

Instead of putting my decorative dishes in the china cabinet, I put them on the shelf leading to the basement and filled them with apple/cinnamon potpourri.Dishes filled with apple cinnamon potpourri, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

Now for My Secrets!

There are three leaf-shaped votive candles on top of wooden napkin rings on the tiny shelf by the door. Underneath, a mug with gold leaves on it.Leaf-shaped votive candles on wooden napkin rings, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

On the windowsill between the kitchen and dining room, I put a plaque and two votive candles.Plaque and candles, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

The candles were not tall enough. I filled the votive holders with cornmeal to raise them up!Cornmeal raises candle, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

On the dining room table, I put a burgundy tablecloth and a red runner for the two different shades of apples. This runner is tone on tone and the backside blended with the tablecloth better. I removed the tag and you cannot tell it is the backside. Apple, acorn, candle, centerpiece, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

A leaf brooch dresses up the towels in the bathroom.Leaf brooch on towels, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

Without a washcloth in the color I desired, I used the “spring” washcloth and folded the decorated side over the back.Tuck decorated portion of towel behind, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

Those are my “September Decorating Flips:”

  1. Use a napkin ring as a votive candle holder or small pine cone holder.
  2. Use cornmeal, or popcorn, to raise a small candle up to the desired level.
  3. Flip your table runner and remove the tag.
  4. Tuck the decorated side of a washcloth behind to have a plain colored washcloth.

I didn’t spend any money to decorate for September; since I picked up the leaf candle last winter on clearance. You can see different ways I used these same decorations on my Pinterest page!

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Frugalfish Friday

I blame Paula…and Michele. I had blogged for a week and they both told me I should start a blog about saving money.

“You have the best tips.” 

“You can stretch a dollar further than anyone I know.” 

But starting 2 blogs in the same month is crazy. I foolishly started a third blog, which I later discontinued, and a month later bought a website.

Dumb.

It was too much, too fast. I was writing posts for my first blog, thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com, every day, and posts for frugalfish.com on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. My plan was to post on the third blog on Tuesday and Thursday, but I also had to learn all the technicalities of blogging.

Adding to the chaos was taking an HTML class, which taught me enough to lock myself out of my website…twice. I was studying the book, “WordPress for Dummies,” and making decisions about the nuts and bolts of two blogs and a website. (The rules are different for a website than they are for a blog.)

Last week, I read the most discouraging article, “Get More Blog Traffic,” which said he wrote 3 posts and then spent 90% of his time marketing and writing on other blogs. If you count the posts in my third blog, I have written over 3,600 posts. Sigh.

I patterned this blog the way I like to read blogs: no pop-ups, no ads, no donation requests, no affiliate marketing. I even allow you to view the entire post in your email. I did that because sometimes you have time to read a short post, but not a long one. It takes time: to hit the link, wait for the website to open, and see how long the post is.

That makes it nice for my followers, but they never have to visit the blog. That translates into no visitors and invisible comments.

My comments are invisible because they are all on my Facebook pages. Most of my followers read my posts on Facebook.

So, I took a break.

There are steps I need to take to make my blog visible. When I started blogging, I was on page 1 of Google. But now everyone blogs, and I am way down on their list. (I stopped looking after page 23.) Anyway, there are things I can do to correct that, but it will take time…lots of time.

A few years ago, I started posting to Frugalfish on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This week, I decided to post to this blog only on Fridays, at least until I can do my homework. There are 600 posts for you to read should you have withdrawal.

But that means my Facebook friends will have to actually go to my blog!

I’ll see you next Frugalfish Friday!

Office for two.

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What’s in the Frig?

We had just returned from a weekend away, where we ate at really nice restaurants. We even tried new foods! I wanted something fancy for dinner. I asked the all important question –

“What’s in the frig?”

There was pork thawed out and fresh peaches. There was also some fresh kale the mysteriously turned up. (Sometimes, my daughter leaves things she decides she doesn’t like, but this time, it was from my son’s girlfriend.)

I went online and found a recipe for “Pork with Peaches” and another one for “Sautéed Kale.” I followed the directions a felt a bit like a chef. I baked a potato to go with those dishes. I was pleased with the results. My meal was just as colorful as the ones in restaurants.Potatoes, Pork, Peaches, and Kale on a plate.

The next time you want something fancy, start by asking the question, “What’s in the frig?”

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Easy Fix for Shoes that Slip Off of Your Heel

I have one pair of dress shoes. That is not by choice, I just have a hard time finding them in my size – 7 EE. No, that is not a typo; it is 2 “E”s. On top of the odd size, I prefer leather because it will be years before I can find another pair. I think these pumps, made by Aravon, are 10 years old.

Granted, I do not wear them often because the dress code for the worship band at church is jeans, sneakers, dressy tee shirts. But I do have the occasional wedding or funeral to attend.

Last weekend was the wedding of our cousin’s son. I wanted to wear these pumps. Unfortunately, the elastic in the front was no longer tight. The shoes slipped off the back of my heel.

First, I tried sewing pieces of elastic on under the straps to strengthen them. I cut them too short and the straps cut into my feet. Then I tried finding those little plastic things you can put in the back of the heel but was unsuccessful. Elastic pieces and pumps

Mom stopped by while I was ripping out the stitches and the elastic that I had sewn on the weekend before. She worked in a shoe store before she married. Her suggestion was to buy plain insoles and put them under the insoles in the shoe. It makes the shoe fit tighter and your foot will not slide down further into the shoe as you wear them.

She was right! The insoles worked. The shoe did not slip off of the back of my heel throughout the entire wedding! Snug and comfortable pumps

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Block That Standby Light on DVD Player

I like it dark in our bedroom. I mean, pitch black. I have black, energy-efficient, light-blocking drapes and mini-blinds that I close. I have a piano book on its side in front of the TV to block the red “standby light” at its base. I turned the phone sideways to keep the standby light from shining toward the bed.

Our satellite box faces the black curtains. When it faced our white walls I would be awakened by a flash of light at 2:30 am when the updates arrived. Now the light shines into the dark curtains and is not reflected back to the bed.

My husband also likes a deep, dark bedroom. Before he turns in, he throws a black cloth over the radio alarm clock to block the glow from the time.

Imagine my disgust, when I moved a DVD player into the bedroom. It has a bright, red, standby light that is piercing. I tried duct tape, but that red light penetrated through it.Red Standby Light on DVD Player

I came up with a different solution…

Aluminum Foil Tape

Plumbers use this “peel-off tape” to block gaps in furnaces and air conditioner units. I used it around all the seams on my heat ducts and to secure the pipes under my registers to the floor.Aluminum Foil Tape on DVD Player

Now it has a new use…light blocking. I cut a tiny square off of one corner and taped it over that standby light. It worked. Not a red glow came through and I could get a good night’s sleep.No Light on DVD Player

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Where to Store Ice Packs in the Freezer

Last week I cleaned out the refrigerator and freezer. I keep my freezer organized by using baskets. One is for frozen fruits and two are for meat.

I used to keep my spices and vegetables in the door but ended up moving the smaller spice bottles because they break when frozen. I hated having cilantro spread across the floor of the freezer. You can see my former spices storage here. With fewer spices stored in the door, I am able to keep the shredded cheese there.

One thing that I hated to see taking up space was the ice packs. They take a lot of space and they are worthless unless they are frozen. I decided to line them up along the back of the freezer behind the baskets. There was plenty of room and the baskets did not touch the door. When stored in the back, they stay frozen solid.Ice packs in back of freezer.

Now if I could only get rid of the contraband that my son put in my freezer…”State Fair Corn Dogs.” Why? 1) A frozen corn dog can never compare to a hot one served at the fair. 2) I hate hot dogs. 3) He never shares anyway. (Sigh)

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Simple Trick to Shorten Long Sleeves

The white, button-down shirt is a classic piece that is in everyone’s closet. I have a hard time finding them because I need 100% cotton and…er, I had three kids. Being a frugal mom, I did not bottle feed my babies. Enough said.

I have to order my shirts one or two sizes larger to keep them from gaping between the buttons. When I finally found a shirt that fit nicely on my torso, the sleeves went halfway down my hand. They were way too long.The sleeve was too long.

Instead of going to a tailor, or trying to remove the cuff and move it up, I decided to move the buttons over. I tried on the shirt and pulled the buttonholes over to make the cuff fit correctly. I marked the spots with a pencil.Markings for new button placement

After using a seam ripper to remove the buttons, I sewed them back on over the pencil marks. Now the cuff is too narrow to slide down over my hand. My hand does not get covered, but everything else does!Smaller cuff

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Bacon Cheeseburger Macaroni

This casserole has been a hit at my house. I use the Cheap Cheese Sauce recipe for the macaroni and cheese.

Bacon Cheeseburger Macaroni

1 lb. Ground Beef

1/2 lb. Bacon

1 Tablespoon Dry Diced Onion

Salt and Pepper

7 Ounces Macaroni Shells

Cheap Cheese Sauce

1 c. Sliced Pickles

Ketchup and Mustard

Cook bacon until crisp, dice. Cook ground beef with the onion, salt, and pepper. Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Make the cheese sauce. Combine the macaroni and cheese. Add the hamburger, bacon, and pickles. Drizzle with ketchup and mustard. Fold together. It’s best if you don’t combine them completely. Then you are surprised when you taste ketchup or mustard.Macaroni and cheese with beef and bacon

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Summer Decorating Secrets

Today is the first day of the Iowa State Fair! (Cue the music: “Our state fair is a great state fair…”) I had such a good time last year; I used my “State Fair” cup in my summer decorating! You can see how we saved money at the fair last year here.cookie cutter, cup, and keys

I promised to show you may tricks and secrets on Tuesday. The runner on the kitchen table is actually my St. Patrick’s Day runner turned over.Candle in bowl with flowers on table runner

The runner on the dining room table isn’t a runner at all! It is 2 napkins strategically folded. Another example of using napkins to make a runner is here.2 folded napkins

There is a rose pin attached to the washcloth in my bathroom. The roses in the towels are light pink to dark pink. The pin is actually red!Red rose pin

Colors do not have to match exactly, they have to agree. Another example of decorating with colors that agree is here.

I hope these secrets give you an idea of another way to use a decorative item in your home.

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