Fluffster sitting next to car

Why Did We Just Spend $1150 Repairing Our $500 Car?

So we just spent $1150 on car repairs… oh, and the trade-in value for our car is roughly $500 (from a dealer; we could surely get quite a lot more selling it ourselves, but probably still less than $1150). When does spending more money on repairs than the value of the car make sense financially? Let’s explore [cue evil laugh].

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White car with dark spots on it from a bad paint job

Six Steps to Saving Money by DIYing Everything Like a Bad-ass Engineer

In my freshman engineering seminar, there was one phrase forever drilled into my head: “Engineers Solve Problems (ESP™).”

ESP was the one thing that brought all the disciplines together – from six sigma-ing industrial engineers to code monkey computer engineers (engineers can be super cliquey).

So how can you be like an engineer? You guessed it – by solving problems. Why would you want to? Oh, man, because engineering is cool? No? Okay, how about saving money, time, and sanity? Yeah, I thought so.

Step 1: Destroy Mental Barriers

“But everyone solves problems,” I hear you groan, “What makes engineers special?”

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Golden Retriever, Fluffster, looking at camera with eye patch

How to Get Free SSL Certification, and Why That Matters

In this post, we’ll cover what SSL Certification is (short answer: that “https” thing), why bloggers should care about it (short answer: don’t freak out if you don’t have it), and how to get it entirely free (Fergus did it in roughly half an hour!).

Steve from Think, Save, Retire wrote a great piece on what SSL is, why it matters, and why it generally does not matter much to blogs. Steve’s got a wonderful blog, has very recently retired, and is super supportive in the Personal Finance blogging community.

There are, however, two additional things about SSL certification that are important to note that prompted us to write this article:

  1. SSL Certification does not mean $$$
  2. There are instances where it could make a security difference to blogs

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Fluffster with money on snout

Letting It Rain for a Good Cause

It’s not like we have never donated to charities before. We’ve sent the Red Cross the odd donation, and we’ve donated on behalf of coworkers running for charity. We’ve even pitched in for a couple Go Fund Me’s for friends in tough situations. It was just never a lot – $200-$300 a year at the most.

This year, we’re 10Xing that.

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Saving Money on Money (International Transfers)

This is not a sponsored post, but there are affiliate links to TransferWise, a company we enthusiastically support and reached out to.

I love technology. So much information at our fingertips, such almighty power compared to twenty years ago. So why is so much banking technology awful? At work I could spin up a network of VMs in minutes, so why does it take multiple days to make a transfer of funds from one bank in Massachusetts to another bank in Massachusetts? Why? Why does it need to be that way?

The worst culprit by far has been international transfers and exchanges. We have family outside of the US, and occasionally we like to send money overseas. Our first experience with transferring money was just painful. We searched around, trying to find the best combination of rate and fee for our use case.

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Be Lazy, Eat In: Frugal Kitchen Breakfast Edition

I am spoiled. Fergus is in charge of cooking, and for good reason: his food is delicious (plus he enjoys cooking). Some mornings I literally wake up to the offer of breakfast in bed.

Yet as I write this Fergus, is away on a business trip. And I can’t cook. And I hate cleaning the kitchen. What’s a frugally minded, culinarily-impaired engineer to do? Since we only go to restaurants rarely (and they have to be special, not just a convenience purchase), eating out is not an option. That would be weak.

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$4/mo Smart Phone Plan

While there are quite a few things we’re willing to spend extra money on, cell phone service plans are most certainly not on that list.

We spend a whopping $4/mo per phone, which includes hours of talking, dozens of texts daily, and mobile data. Here’s how.

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Montreal and New Straw

We went on vacation to Montreal earlier this month! During a snowstorm! And it was fun!

We live in the Boston area, meaning we’re about a five hour drive away from Montreal. And yet, in our years living around Boston, we’ve never visited Canada. A foreign country, with a foreign language (in Quebec province), right there, close enough to take Fluffster along for the ride. Granted, most people there speak English, but I still got to order a croissant in French.

At this point you might be wondering why “straw” is in the title, much less “new straw.”

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We Just Spent (and Consumed) $84 on Chocolate. Here’s Why That’s Frugal.

Fergus and I went to Cafe Fleuri at The Langham in Boston, where we spent $42 per person to eat at the “Chocolate Bar.” Plus tax and tip, the entire trip was over $100. It was a really interesting experience that we don’t regret (even though we probably won’t do that ever again). This post explains the insanity.

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Lil Fixes (Mini Frugal Tip)

I drink a lot of loose leaf tea. It’s cheap and yummy.

However, my tea strainer/tea infuser/mesh tea ball/whatever you want to call it started to develop what others called an “overbite.”

I was definitely contemplating buying a new, probably novelty tea strainer when it hit me: “Umm, you are an engineer. Why don’t you, I don’t know, solve this problem yourself and fix it?” Great idea, me!

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