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Well, this was an unexpected event.

Last weekend my wife and I went to the Verizon store to get new smartphones. While we were waiting to be seen, we were approached by a couple of representatives talking about their Fios program, which offers phone, internet and phone. Most of the time I tell people I’m happy with my service, but this time I told them I’d listen to their offer.

Bart via Compfight

I have to admit, it sounds like a great offer when compared to what we have now with cable. However, I had one of my wife’s phrases running in the back of my mind: “Oh wait, there’s more.”

Sure enough, there was more. The upfront offer was spectacular. Now it was time for everything else. If we wanted DVR services it was either $14.99 a box or we could get the package where you can get 3 boxed for $30, which includes the $15 service that allows you to record on a main box but watch those programs on any TV’s that have a box.

Then there was the TV programs package, of which they had 4. My wife has one channel in particular that she almost exclusively watches. It turns out that package was on their 3rd highest tier, which of course means the price went up even more. Sure, it also means we get a lot of premium paid subscriptions channels like Showtime and Cinemax, channels we never really watched that much before. It also turned out that it didn’t cover the one channel I’m known to watch here and there, HBO. However, they threw in a 65% discount for 12 months; I couldn’t object much to that.

All still seemed like it would be fine, and we’d still be saving a pretty penny. And yet, “Oh wait, there’s more” was still in my mind. I knew something else was coming.

And it did, but this I wasn’t expecting. The lady then said that if we were interested in exploring it further they would have to do a credit check on us. That caught me off guard; a credit check to get a service?

I had to think about it. Not that I was worried about my credit but I was weighing whether this was all really worth it. I decided it was and gave them my home phone number, which is already associated with the company. Then they said that they had to check my wife’s credit instead because, even though my name is on the home phone, her name is on the wireless account and hers was the newer account.

That made no sense but my wife agreed, and we passed easily. It was still a bit irritating to have to do it, especially when initially they were getting ready to put it all under her name and she didn’t want that. However, smarter heads prevailed, not only because my name was on the main account but because we decided to add a second line.

In the end… this coming week we should have the service installed, and in the long run we’ll be saving about $100 a month from both the cable service and the phone we already have being rolled into this package, as it had gone up to just over $65 monthly from the $32 it was just 3 years ago; they blamed it on taxes.

One final thing. All of this stuff takes time to do; you might as well be buying a car on credit for as long as it takes. But I only had to sign one piece of paper; I guess that’s something…

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Back in 2012 we wrote an article titled 5 Foods That Will Help You Stretch Your Food Budget. That talked more about individual items, although one could look at soup as a multiple foods item. Still, we thought it was time to update this list a bit. So, here are 5 more food ideas for you, more about full meals.

spaghetti 29/365
Nikkorz via Compfight

1. Spaghetti sauce. We couch it under spaghetti but truthfully, you can use spaghetti sauce for lots of different things. Truth be told, if you know how to make a spaghetti sauce from scratch you could probably save a lot more money than we can. Still, spaghetti sauce is one of those things that, if you make it in bulk, you can have it last for a very long time, whether you decide to put it in the refrigerator to eat through the course of a week or freeze some for a later time.

2. Chili. Once again, you could start with a tomato sauce of your own making and either use your own chili spices or chili mix of some kind. If you add meat and beans it makes it heartier, and making something to eat it with, such as rice or even spaghetti (I sense a theme) it will spread further. Once again, you could eat off it for the week or freeze some.

3. Hamburger. We don’t mean the one pound of hamburger that costs at least $3.99 a pound. If you have the space you can get sizes of 6 pounds or more usually for $1.99, and in some places like outlet stores it might cost even less. Six pounds of hamburger comes out to 24 quarter pound burgers, but you can also use portions of it for your spaghetti sauce or chili if you like meat in your meals. Some outlet stores sell even larger portions; buying in bulk, if you have the space, always makes sense.

4. Pulled pork. As expensive as ham seems to be, what costs way less is pork, especially big pieces of meat like pork shoulder. If you go to the right store you can get a 10-pound slab of pork for around $8.00. If you take that and put it into a slow cooker, within hours you’ll have enough pork to eat off for more than a week. Mix it into things like chili or soup, or flavor it up with some barbecue sauce and eat it with bread or rolls, and you’ll have a lot of meals at a very low cost.

5. Cake. Yes, I’m tossing some dessert in here; who doesn’t like dessert? The thing about cake is that it actually costs very little money to make, even with frosting, and you can freeze it easier than you can pie. If you take an 8-inch round double layer cake and cut it into 12 slices, they’ll normally come out around 4 ounces each, which is plenty of cake (for some even that might be too much). For less than $10, you have a very affordable dessert that keeps giving.

By the way, if you have a large family then obviously these meals won’t spread as far. But they’ll still cost you less, even if you want to add vegetables to the mix. By the way, the reason vegetables weren’t added to this article is because some of them perish fairly quickly unless you’re buying frozen.

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There are three major reasons why there are conversations about trying to be more eco-friendly. The first reason is to better protect the environment. The second reason is to try to come up with cost saving measures. The third reason is because we don’t want to run out of the natural resources that bring us this energy.

Refinery in GTA on New Years Day
Ryan via Compfight

Asking if we could really run out of energy is kind of a strange question, because energy in some form will always be out there. The question probably should be whether we’ll have access to the types of energy we have access to now, or the catalyst for that energy. That will provide a much different answer, and one that we all need to address as we go forward with our green initiatives.

In general, oil comes from plant and animal life that has decayed over millions of years, coalesced and become oil. That’s pretty much a simplification of things, but for our purposes it will do. There’s a lot of that inside the earth, which has been a good thing. The problem is that there are more people now than at any other time in known history, and we’re going through oil at an alarming rate. It’s also something we can’t reproduce, so if we happen to go through it all that’s pretty much that.

Some of it happens to be in areas that are protected natural resources. There are some who believe that it’s more important that we access the oil than it is to preserve the environment. Right now that’s not as big an issue, but it could one day if the financial situations don’t improve. And if that happens, then it means we will probably go through our reserves even faster.

So then what about the sun? The sun will still be around for at least a few billion more years, but that’s not really the issue (since Earth might not be). The issue is twofold.

One, even right now solar energy costs a lot of money to try to capture and store. Technology has not moved as fast as one would’ve expected in making the cost lower, so it’s still not all that widespread.

Two, even if we could capture all the suns energy, we would still need other resources such as substances for lubrication. There may be some scientists working on that problem, and if they can find something else that can be used that’s a good thing, but we have to hope that whatever they come up with is still safe for the environment and for the rest of us.

What about wind, hydro, and nuclear power? To an extent all of those are limiting as well. There aren’t enough places in the world where you can set up a dam to create power from water in enough abundance. The same goes for wind, plus the technology is still limiting as far as how much energy it can capture. Nuclear power also requires being near enough to a large water source so that you can keep the reactors cool. It’s also somewhat dangerous as you know.

Right now, all the other forms of capturing energy still require one main component; oil. If we can improve these other energy sources, we might be in a position where we require less oil, maybe even being more cost effective and lass of a financial burden to we, the consumers. It’s something we still have to think about right now as we move forward with our energy initiatives.

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