Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Frugality Tips #5 & #6

Welcome back! Here are your tips for today:

Frugal Tip #5

Cut down on your entertainment costs by using free (and legal) services!

Do you rent movies? Do you watch TV?
If you answer
ed "Yes" to these questions, read on.

Chances are you're paying $4+ dollars for a weeklong rental if you're renting movies. And how many times did you watch that movie? Probably once. So stop renting at Blockbuster and start using Redbox, Hulu and your library!

You can get free rentals with Redbox as long as you return the movie the day after you borrow it. Go here to get some Redbox codes for free rentals, or sign up for their newsletter to receive them exclusively from Redbox.

Hulu has movies you can watch on your computer for free. They're supported by the ad breaks that show up every once in a while and are perfectly legal. If you're at all handy with a computer, you can hook your computer up to your TV and watch the movies just like you normally would.

Your library probably has movies that you can rent there as well! Lots of libraries rent them for free, some, like the one that I used to live by, charge a dollar for a week's rental. And they use that dollar to buy the newest movies out! (Yes, even movies like The Dark Knight and whatnot! Wow!) Either way, it's much cheaper than renting from Blockbuster or Hollywood or the like, and you can keep yourself entertained.

As far as TV watching goes, if you're paying $30 or $40 a month to have 100+ channels to watch, chances are you only watch a couple of shows out of those 100 channels and if you're watching more than that, you should probably cut down on your usage anyway.

Use Hulu instead! Hulu has up to 5 of the latest episodes of most TV shows on their website and you can watch them for free! And there is much less commercial interruption (three 30 second breaks instead of three loooong breaks). If you use the TV for the news, most TV stations have their shows on their websites, and you can pick and choose which segments you want to read or watch. Why pay for TV service and an internet connection when you really only need one? This is a big big money saver, in my opinion. I watch all my TV shows, whenever I want, without an expensive DVR and without paying for cable/dish and internet too. That saves me $30 a month.

Frugal Tip #6

Go open source.

You probably have no idea what I mean by "Open Source", so I'll explain it to you! I must explain now, that I'm a bit of a geek. Yes, I know, geeky women are weird. But I promise, I am not! I don't even play World of Warcraft!

So anyway, open source refers to software for your computer where the "source" or development code of the software is open to anyone to look at, edit, or help to develop. Microsoft is not "open source". They guard their secrets jealously and charge you big bucks to use it. Open source software is generally free, though the developers do ask for donations if you have the means.

Open source is very open to suggestions and criticism from the public, and the public is often the beta testers on the software. What I mean by that is, if you told Microsoft "You know, Vista is really slow, can you speed it up a little?". They would ignore you. If you told an open source developer that about their operating system, they'd say "Oh, ok, let me look at that." and they'd try and fix it. Or they'd say "Here, try this to make it faster!". Or something. People in the open source community are very nice. They also release changes to their products more often than microsoft, so you get the latest technology every few months, rather than ever 3 years.

Here are some examples of open source software that are awesome and free:

OpenOffice - Does the same things as Microsoft Office, but is totally free (savings of about $120). Saves documents in MSOffice format and will read MSOffice documents. Much more sophisticated than MSWorks too.

Firefox - The equivalent of Internet Explorer, but -much- faster (IE 7 is SO SLOW!!!) and much more customizable. I have the weather on the bottom of my firefox and several tools to help me build websites. You can also change the skin to make it look nice, as well as add on pretty much any sort of widget you want without having five hundred toolbars up top. Doesn't really save you money, but still more awesome than IE. (Use Adblock to get rid of the nasty ads on all websites too!)

Linux Ubuntu - An operating system, just like Microsoft Windows, but free! Takes a little getting used to and you might need help at first, but once I made the switch I was amazed. Ubuntu is very customizable and takes up a lot less space than Vista. If you were to get a free old computer from someone that had a very old version of Windows on it, you could uninstall it and put Ubuntu on it instead. You'd have all the functionality of Vista, but it would work on a much older computer and run just fine. And it would be free free free. And you don't need antivirus software for it either; it doesn't get viruses, so free free free!

The GIMP - If you need a picture editor, this is the free equivalent of photoshop. I don't like it much, but a lot of people do! :D And it's free! It doesn't hurt to try it at least, because free is free!

There are a lot of programs like this. If you are possibly having to purchase software for your computer, look for an open source version first. There are even open source antivirus programs that work well and are less annoying than Norton. There are open source ecommerce solutions (ZenCart, Magento), etc. It's a wide, free world out there in open source!

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