Friday, January 6, 2012

Free Android App

Today Amazon has a free android app: Splashtop Remote Desktop

New Year's Resolution: Budgeting

If your New Year's Resolution is to save money via a budget and you're an Android user, this app will rock your socks:

Lifehacker: The Best Budget-Tracking App for Android

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Great lunch-box solution

Today, lifehacker had an awesome article on an Australian technique for cutting and rubberbanding an apple so that it doesn't oxidize. Love to see that great immigrant know-how!

Aussie Apple Technique Keeps Apple Slices Handy and Unoxidized

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Black Friday

Lifehacker has a great (and timely) article about when it's worth the time to stand in line at a store for Black Friday deals.

As I'm reading through this article, I'm remembering all the conversations (past and present) I've had with people about Black Friday.

Look, I don't care how good the deals are. I don't care that a lot of my friends (immigrant and US born) are going to stand in line to save a lot of money on a TV or a computer. I'm not doing it. Nope. Not interested. Lalalalalalala can't hear you!

Here's what I do instead. I go to the stores with the deals I want after 1pm. Now, obviously, I'm not after the $800 computer selling for $200. But I do get a lot of the smaller items for really cheap, and I can still use a majority of the coupons for the stores. The difference is that I don't have to stand in line, fight my way through a mob of crazy people, and then return home with my second or third choice.

Plus, there's always cyber Monday. I'd much rather wait in line in my pajamas in my warm home.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My "Aha!" Moment: Honing a knife on a coffee mug

I've had a lot of "Aha!" moments in my life. You know, it's a normal day and you're doing relatively normal things, but something causes you to extract yourself from your normal position in the universe and see things from a different point of view. Yeah, one of those moments.

I was at a friend's house for dinner and socializing, and we were all hanging out in the kitchen. He was making flatbread sandwiches with stewed goat meat (nom!) and he asked me to chop a tomato.

Copyright amyability,

No problem, I thought to myself. But there was a problem. The knife was DULL. And I mean so dull that it wouldn't even cut into the tomato. So I asked my friend, a Palestinian named Danyal, for a knife-sharpener.

"Why do you need a knife sharpener?" he queried.

"Uhh, this knife is dull."

He looked at me blankly, took an empty coffee cup that was hanging on a hook under the cabinet, and honed the knife on the rough edges on the underside.

Yep, just like this

I took the knife back and thought to myself, this knife isn't going to cut anything. But I didn't want to insult my friend without evidence, so I picked up the tomato and prepared myself for another failed attempt.

The knife slid right through that tomato.

Danyal must have been watching me because he started to laugh. He said, "In my country, we don't have many new things. We can't buy new knives - or even knife sharpeners - so we learn to make do with what we have."

And that got me to thinking....

How many times have I solved a problem by throwing money at it?

I mean, seriously. That's the American way, right? If the car doesn't start, call a tow truck. If your dress doesn't fit, buy a new one. If your purse has a hole, buy a new one. If your kitchen is too small, pay to have it remodeled. You get the picture.

Of course we don't live in a vacuum, and many solutions are going to involve money. But dollars shouldn't be the primary tool we use to solve problems. Dresses that don't fit can be altered, either by ourselves or by our friends. Heck, even if we pay for the altering, we've still saved the burden of yet another thing on an already overstuffed, consumerized way of living.

That's why I love hanging around a diverse group of people - the ability for them to take what they know from "back home" and use it here in the good ol' US of A to solve real problems. Sometimes they fail, but even failures yield valuable lessons.

Anyway, this is my new mantra.... "how can I solve X without going broke?"

Sunday, November 20, 2011

How a cheap tee can save your sweaters

For years, I purchased beautiful, dry clean only sweaters to wear in the winter. They were oh, so soft. And beautiful. And a pain in the neck to clean.

Dry cleaning is expensive. My $50 sweater costs an additional $20-$30 each winter just for cleaning!

The Solution: A $13 Tissue Tee

My dear friend, who is originally from the Ukraine, gave me this tip. She wears a thin tee shirt underneath her sweaters. So instead of the sweater absorbing all the oil and sweat from my body, the tee gets dirty. The tee is obviously cheaper to clean (just toss it in the wash) and cheap to replace.

The sweater still has to be dry-cleaned, but as long as I'm careful while eating, I can wear the sweater five or six times before it needs to be cleaned.