October 16, 2015

living without ..... a phone

Today let's tackle living without a phone. It's hard for me to imagine life without a phone, I've not had to do without one for quite a few years now. But this does happen to everyone from time to time and it's necessary to know what all your options are if your in that predicament. Plus, maybe your like me and can't imagine living without two phones and can use some of these ideas to make it cheaper on you to have 2 phones for your family.

In our house, right at this minute we are with only one phone - a cell phone. Life is currently difficult with this one phone when we are used to having at least 2 phones for our family to use. But our home phone (which is through our cable company) is disconnected since I failed with my budget this month - OOPPS! But by the time you read this I will have the phone and internet back on (this is a Wed and it should be back on by Thurs night). Since this was a oops moment for us and not supposed to last more than 2 days I'm not bothering with getting any other option into place for us. If it was going to last more than that I would have went with the first options below.

Your first options should be internet calling/messages, government sponsored cell phone (if you qualify, more below), and last but usually first for us - a cheap cell phone & pre-paid plan.

If you have a computer and internet then check into Google Voice. I like it best of all and you can even get a usb phone to make it feel more like a traditional phone system. When you sign up you can pick a phone number and you can text and call from this number on the computer without anything more than a microphone and speakers. You also have the ability to get voice mail and call forwarding as well. It doesn't cost and you can talk for as long as you want. Another added bonus is if you have an Android phone, you can set this up on your phone so you use Google Voice instead of your phone plan. But your Android phone must have active service to get this to work initially.

Another option you can use if you have computer and internet is to use a service like Skype or Text Free. I don't care for Skype because I always have problems using it. But it seems lots of people really like it so you should give it a shot if your in need. Text Free on the other hand I really like to use both on the computer or on my Android phone. (I have a great Android phone but no plan.) You also get to pick a free phone number with Text Free which can be used for phone calls and text messaging (pictures and plain text). But with Text Free you only get 10 minutes initially for free and must either complete offers of some sort or spend money to get more minutes.  That's why it's not a great option but is worth a mention.

If you participate in a government program that will qualify you, then a government sponsored cell phone may be an option. The program used to be called LifeLine but now goes by the names of SafeLink, Assurance, etc. Generally you can fill out an application online or get a paper application at most government assistance offices. You should qualify if you receive help from the following programs: WIC, SNAP, TANF, SSI, or Medicaid. Each program (SafeLink, Assurance) has their own "plans" and you get an option of what one you want, usually. They all will send a phone to use, which you don't get a choice and will usually be an older model of what's "hot" (most generally are not Android). They will send another phone if something happens to the one you received initially, once you notify them. You do have to re-certify each year.

And out of the "1st options" last is buying a cheap pre-paid cell phone & plan. The good thing about this is once you buy the phone, your only cost will be paying for the plan the next time your in need of a phone! Now first of all that you need to figure out is - do you have access to buy this online? Cause if you do then you just may find a better deal than what's available locally.

-----HOLD ON A SECOND!-----

Let me say first that I have no clue on the whole - locked/unlocked cell phone thing. I just go with finding a phone that comes with the company pre-paid card or logo on the package. The only time I try to switch out sim cards is if it's a card that a friend/family has in front of me to slip in and try or if it's super cheap -- like 10 cents shipping and all! Check out Amazon, especially if you have Prime!


Generally your looking to spend at least $15 for the phone. You may find as I have that the cheaper the plan is - the more expensive the phones are. Even so I would expect that $30 should still get you a basic phone with a company that has good plans available.

Plans usually work one of two ways - daily rates or monthly rates. It really depends on how long or often you plan to use the phone of which rate is best for you. Don't assume that since your short on cash the daily rate which is WAY cheaper is the best way to go because it also depends on how you load the money onto your account. Some companies only allow you to load $15 at a time, some will allow $10. Most companies will charge taxes too.

Also fully know what your plan means. For example - AT&T pre-paid daily rate plan ends at midnight and will not charge for the next day till you make or answer another call. Boost Mobile on the other hand will charge you daily till you have no more money available on your account.

I've found that AT&T is the cheapest and most widespread company to choose for pre-paid. Virgin Mobile is has the best texting options and even decent talk plans but their phones tend to be more expensive. Boost Mobile is cheap for a monthly plan and has cheaper prices for their phones but are shady when it comes to daily rate plans. Net 10 is a decent company but can be swindlers sometimes be warned! I completely swear off Tracfone and believe them to be nothing more than money traps for the needy. These things change all the time and my opinion is sure to be different than yours so just use this as a guideline.


Second options available when you need a phone - well there aren't many lol! You can do the old standbys pay phone (if you can find one!) or asking a neighbor but you also could look into asking a family member or friend to add a line or if they have an old pre-paid sitting in the back of the junk drawer. Sometimes a family member or friend will have a cell phone that they don't use constantly and will loan it to you to use for the day or even a series of days. The key is to make sure you don't use any minutes, data, or text limits up and also it wouldn't hurt to compensate the person as soon as your able.

Well, that's all I can think of for this topic for now. But as I sit here I realize that there might be room for another post on how to use an inactive Android phone with wifi as a phone or messaging option. I'll have to add that to my list of things to write on =)  Plus I'll need to try out some other apps so I have a little more variety to tell about!


October 2, 2015

super cheap and easy chicken noodle soup recipe

I was trying to push coax my son and his family into doing some prepping type things this weekend and thought .... since it's so chilly it would be a good idea to make some chicken noodle soup and freeze half of it for later. I told them I have a recipe for a cheap and easy chicken noodle soup -- and I do....... in my HEAD lol  Not an actual recipe that's view-able online or typed out! So I thought better get to work writing it out. So here it goes.

dirt cheap chicken noodle soup

     6 chicken bouillon cubes
8-12 cups of water
     1 bag/box of tiny noodles (stars, ABCs, etc)
        pepper (to taste)

directions: get water boiling; add bouillon and pepper, stir to dissolve; bring back to boil; dump in noodles and stir for 15 seconds; shut off burner; wait about 4 mins and stir again; soup is done when noodles are soft (about 10 mins).

now depending on how lucky you are, there might be some things you can add to this soup to make it even tastier. Here's some things I can think of that are cheap and easy.

(add any of these BEFORE noodles!)
  • canned chicken
  • 1 small onion diced
  • ½ bottle of dried onion flakes
  • fresh celery or carrots (about 1 each)
  • garlic (about 2 tablespoons)
  • ½ Tablespoon garlic powder (NOT garlic salt!)
  • ½ Tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 or 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • more bags of noodles
  •  2 Tablespoons of oil or butter
  • a can of corn
 I try to put all of that above in mine, maybe less bouillon, and I also try to put in the following herbs (just a sprinkle each) - thyme, parsley, herbs de provence, and celery seed. Also if I have the chance I will boil chicken in water then pull the chicken out, chop it up, add it instead of canned chicken - then use the leftover water for the water that's listed above.

If for some reason you don't have chicken bouillon you can use chicken ramen noodle seasoning packs. Also you can use ANY kind of noodle. I would suggest breaking up large ones but you don't have to. We've had chicken noodle soup with broken up macaroni before! lol

And everyone who knows me knows I ALWAYS make all recipes doubled at least so..........


September 30, 2015

living without......... cable

Ahhhh.... this is one of the easy ones! =)  Don't get me wrong it's difficult to do but in the last 10-15 years living without cable has become much easier. Also I know there are many guides or experiences written out here on the internet -- I know I'm not new with this idea! So because of that I will share a few well written links and then share my experiences =)

links -

a great guide & info with a nice chart to help out =)

Here at our house we use alot of different options all at once. First of all we have 2 traditional put on a pole outside antennas. We put one facing one direction and the other facing perpendicular. This means we have to have converters on any tv that we want to make use of this but most new tvs have it built in so it's not too difficult. (we also have a dvd player that we use on older tvs because it has a built in converter) Worst case scenario we'll get 0 channels but usually 2 -- best case scenario we can get 15! It really depends on your area, a good antenna does wonders though. Here's a website to check out whats available in your area http://antennaweb.org/Address.aspx  If you've checked this site in the past and it didn't seem like there was much available, try again. I've checked just last year and there was only 1 channel available in my area and I just checked today and now there are 3 available! I think various stations are starting to add boosters to their antennas (?) and slowly are making them accessible at further distances.

We also have in the past made use of the local library and it's selection of dvds (or vhs back in the day!). Currently we make use more of free movie websites, youtube, and network tv websites. I don't want to share the sites we visit for fear of bad traffic to my blog here.

One of the biggest things we do for entertainment is watch one of the 1000+ dvds we own lol Seriously! If you'd like to browse through our dvd collection then look here -- http://www.invelos.com/DVDCollection.aspx/kingdarkside 

We also own 2 ps3's and a roku (1st ed since then I can hook it up to older tvs). With both of these devices we are able to make use of our Netflix and Amazon Prime accounts. Also with shows or movies we have ripped into our computer or downloaded we can use PS3 Media Server to play them on with the ps3. It works really well for all our needs and it's free. (PS3 Media Server can be found here - http://www.ps3mediaserver.org/)

As for Netflix and Amazon Prime. Netflix is cheaper to get started but Amazon Prime is a better buy IMO. Since Amazon Prime is a one time a year fee once you have that taken care of it seems like nothing to pay out the monthly fee for the Netflix.

When it comes to living without cable it really is a personal preference of what direction you want to go in. With the internet and an internet capable device your costs can be $0 a month and it's possible to spend out untold amounts depending on how much or kinds of devices and options available today. The main thing to remember is you don't have to do without entertainment in today's world.