Financial Potpourri

Here’s a handful of financial observations I’ve had lately :)

#1. I lie to myself whenever I say I’m going to sign up to the HBO free trial and then cancel it before it renews

Do you do this too? Sign up to binge on Game of Thrones or Ballers, and then stick around for another 3-4 months more “by accident?” ;) This was us last year, so this time around I’m just not kidding myself and expect to pay for another two full months or so – AND ENJOY IT. We’ve been cable-free for over a year now (woo!), so I’m pulling the “I deserve it” card and ponying up the $14.99/mo to treat myself.

(If you’re wondering how to get the free 30 day trial twice, btw, it’s signing up under new emails and accounts from other members of your family :))

#2. Whenever I buy my morning coffee with a credit or gift card, I never remember to tip

I know I know, Starbucks is the devil and I’m throwing my money down the drain and all that, but seeing how it’s my 2nd office (I’m literally typing all this there right now), it’s a cheap price to pay for a change of scenery. And because I’m here for hours a day, I feel like it’s my duty to pony up a few extra bucks to tip the kind baristas – and now my friends – each time I partake.

The problem, however, is that I never remember to do this when I don’t use cash! Most of my transactions are through their mobile phone app, and so once I scan my phone I’m off with my coffee and never even think twice. However, when I pay with a $5 or a $10 bill and get change back, I instinctively throw a couple bucks right into the tip jar.

I imagine I act the same way at other places too, unless they have a tip line on the receipt when I go to pay (so basically, if you’re reading this Starbucks, add a line in the app and see what happens! Just make sure to attribute the extra cash to the same store’s employees!).

#3. Backing your car into a fire hydrant is both costly and embarrassing

It could have been worse with the fire hydrant immediately exploding and geysering all over my car, haha, but I still left the scene with a handful of scuffs and paint chips and it definitely stung a little.

Much more than had it been Frankencaddy where you wouldn’t have even noticed the difference :)

hydrant kiss

Still, that’s the price you pay (quite literally) for rolling around in a nicer car, and now it’s time to pay the piper either going through insurance, or out of pocket, or – dare I say it – whipping out a roll of tape and ghetto’ing it ;) Does it really matter if we plan on keeping the car forever and just running it into the ground? Will the Lexus police come after me??

#4. Buying coins for your collection sometimes feels like cheating.

world coin collection

This is a random one, but it actually applies to a number of things in life. Like when all you have to do to solve a problem or reach a goal is to throw money at it.

In this case, I started a new coin collection of trying to get one coin from every country in the world, mainly just to see if I can do it. I’ve been having fun picking off a coin or two from friends here and there through trades, but then the other week I saw a box of *thousands* of foreign coins for sale and labeled which is half the battle right there putting it all together :)

“Awesome!” I thought to myself. “I’ll just sit here for a few hours picking out every last country I need and then pony up the money and be done! Wouldn’t that be swell!”

But after 5 minutes of sorting I immediately regretted my decision. I don’t know if it was my A.D.D., or if it was because it felt like more of a chore now or what, but my suspicion is that it kinda just felt like *cheating* in the end. Up until that point I had acquired most of the coins from family and friends over the years (for free) and was just going with the flow, and then to know all I had to do was throw some money at it and voila – mission complete! – just kinda lost the appeal.

Reminds me of whenever I hear bragging about new home remodels or kitchen upgrades or mansions being bought, etc. etc. Unless you’re DIY’ing it, all you did was open up your wallet! Which is fine – we’re all allowed to spend our money however we wish, but “goals” wise anyone can do it.

And speaking of doing it yourself… (that’s what she said!)

#5. I’m constantly surprised by how CHEAP it is to entertain kids with DIY projects…

Remember how we had to fire our old babysitter over the summer for leaving our kids unattended near water? Who even brought her charger with her because she was SO OBSESSED with her phone?

Well, needless to say our replacement sitter was light years better and my children adored her :) Not only was her attention completely focused on our kids the entire time (I don’t think I ever even saw a phone?), but she literally brought them new craft projects to work on every day based on what she learned that they liked.

Here’s what they did when she found out they liked dinosaurs :)

Specimen #1: Dinosaur Head

(hat + felt + glue!)

diy dinosaur head


Specimen #2: Dinosaur Feet

(kleenex box + construction paper + paint + glue)

dinosaur feet diy

How awesome is that??? She turned my kids into dinosaurs for literally dollars! And gave them something fun to do as well!

If you ever have a chance to hire school teachers, do it. They understand kids more than anybody, and many of them are looking for gigs during the summer and other breaks too :) Best move we made all summer… (And best money move we made as well – it was hundreds of dollars cheaper having her come to our house every day vs daycare!)

So yeah, just some random thoughts for the day :)

Anything interesting pop up on your end lately? Anyone stumble across any new $$$ hacks?

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  1. Harald @NonlinearThings October 2, 2017 at 5:42 AM

    Quite an interesting read. I can actually relate to #4. I also have some chores that I just get rid off by “throwing” money at them. For example, I recently moved to another city. Although I only live in a 1 bedroom apartment and don’t own a lot of furniture it is just such a hassle to disassemble everything, pack it nicely together, carry it to the transporter, drive it to the new city, carry them to the apartment, unpack them and assemble it back together. So what did I do? I paid a company to (at least) carry the furniture to the transporter, drive it to the new city and unload it. The rest (disassembling & assembling) is still on my side.

    However, there are also some chores that don’t bug me at all. For example, I need to wear a clean shirt for my daily job. So cleaning and ironing shirts is a regular duty. But I somehow really don’t mind doing it. Ok, using the washing machine isn’t really hard, but ironing is also quite relaxing. I usually watch a youtube documentary or a series or something else while doing it.

    Kind regards

    1. J. Money October 2, 2017 at 9:29 AM

      That’s a good idea while ironing :) I get joy from washing and drying the dishes myself. Always get a lot of good thinking in while doing that!

  2. Ember @ An Intentional Lifestyle October 2, 2017 at 6:32 AM

    Oh man. Kids are the most entertained by the cheapest, easiest things. We forget that sometimes. But you got a rockstar replacement babysitter! To do those types of crafts, that’s awesome! As a fellow parent, I get that finding a good babysitter is so dang tough! Keep that lady on lockdown!!
    Also, I’m with you on the whole Starbucks needs a line for a tip thing. I get some coffee once a week with a friend after we run (fun budget for the win!), and I keep wishing I had cash to tip. But I rarely do. Add a line Starbucks!!!!

  3. Mrs. Adventure Rich October 2, 2017 at 6:53 AM

    I am convinced that our son will be content for the rest of his youthful days with our toolset, cooking/baking items (pots and pans!) and the great outdoors!

    I also realized how amazing PB&J sandwiches are. It might sound silly but packing PB&Js has saved my hundreds of dollars (by avoiding eating out due to necessity when we are out longer than expected with our toddler!). I’ll make a few before heading to town or to the beach and I’m set for the day!

    1. J. Money October 2, 2017 at 9:30 AM

      Haha yup… we literally make pb&js for someone every single day of the week – and oftentimes for myself :)

  4. Matt @ Optimize Your Life October 2, 2017 at 7:10 AM

    Love the dinosaur arts and crafts! I think about stuff like this when I see people taking their kids on expensive vacations. It seems like they are just as happy, if not happier, doing cheap activities.

  5. Cubert October 2, 2017 at 7:18 AM

    Great post, J. I know how you feel with respect to the coin “guilt.” I remember buying the entire 1984 TOPPS baseball card set all at once with some hard earned birthday money. Man, that felt really bad because I no longer had the excitement of opening individual packs or trading with friends.
    Couldn’t agree more on finding good childcare. Our nanny once needed a reminder not to use a hair straightener while hovering over our kids in the bath tub. She now builds buses with them out of appliance boxes.
    PS – Your Frankencaddy is sweet. Reminds me of Mike Ehrmantraut’s wheels from Breaking Bad.

    1. J. Money October 2, 2017 at 9:31 AM


      Do you still have it btw, or have you sold/traded/lost it somewhere? :)

      1. Cubert October 2, 2017 at 12:07 PM

        I still have it. Each and every card neatly stowed in a clear plastic sheet. I think the Clemons rookie card is worth something. So many awesome rookies that season. Many of them ended up in heaps of trouble later on (roids, drugs, jail, etc.)

        PS – Sorry about the dupe comment. For some reason the posted comment isn’t showing after I submit, like it usually does. I blame Equifax.

        1. J. Money October 3, 2017 at 2:09 PM

          Haha, no worries – I just deleted the other one :)

          I actually had that Clemens card at one point myself! I think it was worth around $20 the last time I checked? (1997? Haha….)

          It’s too bad the card market crashed soon after… those were fun times!

  6. Budget on a Stick October 2, 2017 at 7:29 AM

    I had never thought about the remodeling thing until you pointed it out. I feel more proud about the changes we have done on our own than the ones we have paid to do. The same goes with my friends, they are more excited to show off their projects that they did.

    My wife is a teacher and she is always finding fun things for kids to do from Pinterest!

  7. [HCF] October 2, 2017 at 7:40 AM

    Cool collection… of thoughts. Just my two cents:

    1) You need an HBO subscription for that?
    2) Counter started, let’s see how fast will they implement this :)
    3) They say that some glue and permanent markers can make wonders
    4) If you need help with Serbian and/or Hungarian coins ping me
    5) Awesome, now we know where Mary Poppins went

    1. J. Money October 2, 2017 at 9:33 AM


      I have been known to Sharpie things before… like my shoes or scuff marks on furniture, etc :)

  8. Lily @ The Frugal Gene October 2, 2017 at 7:44 AM

    Ahhh the dino gear is too cute. That’s a great babysitter, congrats on finding her. I can see the logic because the teacher tip. My mom and I painted used egg shells once into faces. 12 cents including the cost of paint and it was frugal fun!

    1. J. Money October 2, 2017 at 9:33 AM

      That’s a cute idea!

  9. Ms. Frugal Asian Finance October 2, 2017 at 7:48 AM

    I love the dinosaur costume! I have been debating whether to buy Baby FAF a costume. He’s too young to know what Halloween is. But I also want to take pictures of him in his costume.

    I’m sorry about the car debt. Looks like an expensive fix. Yikes!

  10. Penny October 2, 2017 at 7:53 AM

    I do love that you can go back in the app and tip after the fact, but I wish it was for a longer window of time. Like you, I forget sometimes and realize it too late!

    Adorable dino feet! We are at the stage (2 months haha) were an open window is the best toy. Such fun to look at things he doesn’t really understand!

    1. J. Money October 2, 2017 at 9:36 AM

      Oh wait, so you can tip within the app? Where does that setting pop up?

      1. Tonya October 2, 2017 at 8:39 PM

        YES! After you pay a little window pops up that says cancel or tip. You probably close it too soon and it only sticks around for an hour or less so when you reopen it, it’s probably gone. Next time you pay using the app, keep it open and you’ll see it.

        1. J. Money October 3, 2017 at 2:12 PM

          Woahhh had no idea! Yeah, I usually just stick my phone right back into my pockets and don’t even close out the screen haha… Tomorrow I’ll pay extra attention and see if it does it for me – thanks!

  11. Apathy Ends October 2, 2017 at 8:05 AM

    I drilled my neighbors garbage can Last week backing out of the driveway – fortunately it didn’t dent my car and the can stayed up right. That would have been quite the decision point…… pick up a full garbage cans worth of garbage at 5:45 AM or hope no one saw me and blame a Racoon…..

    Those hats are sweet and I rarely tip when using a card either but when I use cash money makes it into the jar – part of it is I never have to sign a receipt because my purchase is under $5

    1. J. Money October 2, 2017 at 9:37 AM

      That would have been nasty picking up all that trash, but you would have had to do it :) (and I’d gladly do it myself if it meant my scratches going away! haha…)

  12. Balanced Dividends Mike October 2, 2017 at 8:33 AM

    As usual, entertaining and meaningful – thanks J.

    1. We did the same thing for Ballers for two seasons, but need to get the third. I agree to cancel is important if you don’t find value in it, but $15 or whatever a month won’t break the bank for you. If you like it or find enjoyment from it, keep it; if you don’t, get rid of it.

    2. Same thoughts as #1.

    3. Sorry about your car! Yeah, it does stink when that happens. I’ve had some family and friends back into their own closed garage doors before though, so at least (hopefully) the damage was only to your car and minor as well.

    4. I don’t have a coin collection, but I do have some arcade coins if you’d like to diversify your portfolio.

    5. Awesome idea! Going to try that soon.

    As far as other recent money hacks:

    – Orange Theory Fitness: I’m a huge fan and have been going for 8 or 9 months now. I had my first no-show fee applied by mistake because I overslept. They charge you $14 for any class you miss and/or cancel or rebook within 8 hours of a scheduled class. Talk about a hit to your gut and wallet.

    – Dinner at home: Mrs. BD had a couple of her girlfriends over for dinner on Saturday night. We made food, people brought some dishes, and we drank a lot of wine. It was awesome – lasted 4 hours when dinner out would have lasted only 90 minutes, was much cheaper, and – most importantly – everyone had a great time.

    – Neighborhood hole in the wall restaurants. Went out to dinner with some family last night at a terrific Italian place. Food was amazing and insanely cheap for the wider area. The place looks like a dump on the outside and is a bit far from the trendy scenes in town.

    1. J. Money October 2, 2017 at 9:39 AM

      Glad you enjoyed the article :)

      Huge congrats on going to the gym for so long too – that’s great! I’ve started doing pushups every day, but so far can’t seem to get into the rhythm again myself :(

  13. Paul October 2, 2017 at 8:50 AM

    Guilty, I still have HBO now and GOT has been over for a minute…. Thanks for the reminder. Cancelling today…(if I “remember” later on).

    And why would anyone tip for coffee? That sounds ridiculous

  14. Mr. Freaky Frugal October 2, 2017 at 9:44 AM

    Long ago, I used to spend lots of time building my coin collection. Now I spend lots of time selling coins from my coin collection. Funny how that works!

    1. J. Money October 3, 2017 at 2:12 PM

      And equally exciting on both ends :)

  15. Budget Kitty October 2, 2017 at 9:49 AM

    LOVE the dinosaur feet, that is so clever! And you’re right about teachers…they make great babysitters, tutors, and even coaches.

  16. Brian October 2, 2017 at 10:10 AM

    I was pretty happy the other day when I purchased my giant Polar Pop for circle K for $/0.79. I gave the cashier $1.02 and when I got my change back I had a War Nickel in my change! It was beat to hell, but it is the first one I have ever received in change. Besides being cool, the melt value is like $0.94 so I totally won that transaction.

    1. J. Money October 3, 2017 at 2:13 PM

      Yeah, totally! That’s pretty cool – you don’t see them too often in change :) Probably because 99.9999% of people even know they contain silver, haha

  17. Mrs. BITA October 2, 2017 at 11:22 AM

    Love the dinosaur feet. We should take advantage of the imagination of our children more often. Toddler BITA and I have been known to play hide and seek with an imaginary object – and the game can last a surprisingly long time. She also likes to pretend to be a dog. I love this one, because my involvement is typically limited to petting her occasionally and throwing a sock around for her to ‘fetch’.

  18. Joe October 2, 2017 at 11:55 AM

    We get HBO “free” with our internet. The internet is pretty expensive, though. Oh well, you have to pay one way or another.
    Great to hear you found a good babysitter. The previous one sounds unsafe.
    Ouch for your car, but it doesn’t look too bad. The damage is on one panel and the body shop can probably fix it without too much trouble. Good luck with the insurance, though. It’ll probably be easier to pay out of pocket.

  19. Shannon October 2, 2017 at 12:54 PM

    #1 Totally get that! We bought a truck and it came with 3 months of Sirius XM radio for free. We loved it and will miss it (frantically wrote down all the new bands I’ve discovered so I can look them up later), but we asked each other what we thought it was worth BEFORE the renewal bill came in the mail. They offered new subscription rates (not at the value we put on it), but we knew we’d never remember to cancel when the time comes. Luckily it ended at 3 months without us doing anything.

    #5 My sister’s nanny has an education degree and she does so many great crafts with the kids! They give her a monthly craft budget so she can buy supplies if needed, but it’s all cheap stuff. The dino-feet are awesome!

    1. J. Money October 3, 2017 at 2:14 PM

      I’m surprised it didn’t automatically start charging you after the months! That’s great!

  20. Done by Forty October 2, 2017 at 2:43 PM

    We have a similar decision with our car, now that the AZ sun has started taking the clear coat off of it all over. Should we pony up a thousand bucks to re-paint or just roll with it and know certain people will judge.

    It’s a Toyota though, so no Lexus police to worry about. ;)

    Your coin comment reminded me we have more to send your way, if you still want em!

    1. J. Money October 3, 2017 at 2:16 PM


      What countries? I made a list so I finally know what I have and what I don’t have :) Wouldn’t want you to waste your stamp money on any duplicates!

  21. Krystal @ Simple Finance Mom October 2, 2017 at 2:58 PM

    Oh my gooooooosssshhhhhhh!! My husband conveniently does the same thing with Hulu, Netflix, sports packages with our cable provider, you name it. haha And can I second hiring school teachers for the summer?!?! I used to be one, and some teachers crave the creativity during the three month break from the school year.

  22. Adriana @MoneyJourney October 2, 2017 at 3:13 PM

    Hi hi! Yes, kids can be entertained with so little! My friend’s latest “invention” to entertain her baby is a plastic bottle filled with some rice. It’s free, it’s interesting for the kid and it best the heck out of buying a new toy ever time the child gets bored! Being inventive like that pays off! :)

    1. J. Money October 3, 2017 at 2:17 PM

      MY KIDS USED TO LOVE THAT!!!! I picked them up from grandma’s once and was like “What is all that rattling???” then saw what she had done haha… Super clever, and cheap! :)

  23. Gabe @ The Shiny Dollar October 2, 2017 at 3:45 PM

    I just can’t wait for Kleenex dinosaur feet but my baby is still a few years away.

  24. Miss Mazuma October 2, 2017 at 4:01 PM

    Not sure what countries you’re missing but I have Hungary, Cuba, and prob Thailand if you need em. I probably have others that I can’t think of right now. :)

    1. J. Money October 3, 2017 at 2:19 PM

      Ahh – just picked up a Cuban one! Have the others too, but please do shout when you come across any others throughout your traveling :)

      And have fun with Nate today!! I hear you guys are meeting up – so cool!!

  25. Kristin @ The Wayward Home October 2, 2017 at 5:34 PM

    This cracked me up, ha! I related to your car one because I drove my car over a curb and totally put a hole in the radiator! What a stupid, expensive repair. And good reminder on Starbucks tipping; I forget to do that, too.

    1. J. Money October 3, 2017 at 2:19 PM

      Oh wow, haha… at least it was a problem you were forced to handle right away! :) I have a feeling this one will be here for a couple of years until I do something about it…

  26. Chris @ Keep Thrifty October 2, 2017 at 9:25 PM

    I feel you on the car one. In the span of two months I had two accidents with our car that’s only a couple years old and felt like an idiot. I backed into a cinder block and jacked up the tailpipe and rear-ended a car with plywood sticking out the trunk.

    We got the tail pipe fixed, but still have a bit of body damage in the front and back.

    The good news? It made me all the more committed to holding on to this car until it dies :)

    I say roll with the scratches and just own it. It adds street cred, right?

    1. J. Money October 3, 2017 at 2:20 PM

      Haha – i’ll do it if you do it!

  27. Miguel @ The Rich Miser October 2, 2017 at 10:31 PM

    Sorry to hear about the hydrant accident! I used to work for insurance companies, and I’d suggest not filing a claim if at all possible. Not only will you have to pay your deductible anyways, but there’s a really good chance that your premiums will go up. Even if the insurer pays for your repairs, it could be “penny wise, pound foolish”.

    1. J. Money October 3, 2017 at 2:25 PM

      True true.. would def. have to run the #’s if we end up wanting to get it professionally fixed.

      I wonder how much time you have to report such incidents though, do you know? Like, could I report it in a year from now and would be the same thing? (Or would you have to lie and say it just happened and hope they don’t do a forensic test? :))

      1. Miguel @ The Rich Miser October 4, 2017 at 12:17 AM

        Generally you have to report it relatively soon. The exact amount of time you have could vary depending on the company, but it will be in the policy paperwork. You might have to dig into the actual long-form policy document.

        If it were me, I would pay for the repairs unless it’s a really big amount over the deductible (which you’ll have to pay anyways if you make a claim).

        I’m also thinking, what if you file the claim and then have the bad luck of getting into another accident soon? Then you could have two claims in a short period. That could really jack up your premiums, or even make the company drop you (if legal in your area).

        I don’t mean to be alarmist; I’ve just seen a thing or two when it comes to insurance.

        1. J. Money October 4, 2017 at 5:34 AM

          totally – all good things to think about, thanks :)

  28. Dividend Diplomats October 3, 2017 at 10:24 PM

    J –

    Hilarious on the last one. When/if I have children, may have to use these as time/entertainment/creativity bait for them. Just as long as they don’t get glue on the walls or something.. haha


  29. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life October 5, 2017 at 1:18 AM

    “ALL” we did was open our wallets for our reno? Do you not understand how painful that was for me??? ;D I kid. Not about the pain. It was painful. But we are not cool or handy enough to emulate Mr 1500’s house DIY and we only had 12 weeks to completely make over a whole house so DIY was not an option. We did learn so much about houses, guts and all, going through this though, I’m glad we worked with the person that we did.

    All joking aside, I completely understand losing interest once you took the “easy” way out. So often we forget that the journey is the point, more than the end goal, when we get used to doing it the easy but $$ way. I’m glad we’re in a community where it’s easy to remember how to get back to our roots!

    1. J. Money October 6, 2017 at 3:24 PM

      Me too, friend :) And the people I was referring to above were mainly the ones who go around bragging about how fancy or expensive their new kitchens or additions were as if they were doing all the work themselves. With enough money ANYONE could make stuff look great! Haha…

  30. Kris October 5, 2017 at 4:38 PM

    Sorry about hydrant accident. I’d say use a sharpie or spray paint since the paints chips doesn’t look that huge.
    Man good find on the sitter, hopefully you can keep her for while. She’s pretty creative with the Halloween costumes especially using tissue boxes for dinosaur feet.

    1. J. Money October 6, 2017 at 3:24 PM

      yup! I’ve been known to whip out the Sharpie on multiple occasions :)

  31. George October 7, 2017 at 2:37 PM

    I drove a Lexus with a scrape on its side for 6years. The Lexus police were fine.

    1. J. Money October 9, 2017 at 9:25 AM

      Hah – good to know :)

  32. Paul N October 7, 2017 at 4:08 PM

    Hey J Money,
    I have some random foreign coins sitting around in a box from when I traveled around Europe, like 20 years ago before they switched to the Euro. For all of the help I’ve received from your financial blogs, I’d love to send them to you as a small token (get it?) of my gratitude. Shoot me an email if you’d like.

    1. J. Money October 9, 2017 at 9:26 AM

      hey, very cool!! will shoot you an email now – thank you so much :)

  33. ZJ Thorne October 9, 2017 at 10:34 AM

    I forgot that a sitter left your kids unattended by water!!! AGH!

    Not gonna lie, I want that dinosaur hat. Does she she babysit adults?

    To me, it does not feel like cheating to use my money to complete certain tasks. I do not have every skill in the world and I only have so much time and energy. I think of it as contributing to the economy. I can focus on my business if I am not too busy trying to master many little skills that I could easily pay someone else to complete.

    1. J. Money October 9, 2017 at 11:23 AM

      Haha – you can make the hat yourself! Make it a date night :)

      (And good way of thinking of it too to hire others for things – I like that)