Episode 15 and 16, February 23rd, 2017 How minimum wage hike impacts you, tipping etiquette and ways to eat out for $2

Episode 15 – How the Minimum Wage Hike Impacts You: From restaurant owners to wait staff to your wallet, we’re exploring how wage increases are impacting everyone.

Episode 16 – Money Etiquette Explained:  Etiquette coach, Mrs. Hancock, explains who should be tipping and when.  Plus, save money at your favorite restaurant!  How to treat yourself for next to nothing.

This Week’s Guests:

Jonathan Frutkin from Radix Law Firm

Joan Seriale from Joe’s Diner

Zoe Hancock from Mrs. Hancock’s

Topics Discussed on the Show:

To learn more about the wage increase law and its effects go to Balletopedia.org

Ways to save money on eating out

Strategies for eating out so you don;t break the bank

 

 

 

 

Dine out often without breaking the bank $4 sandwich $2 ribs and more

I love to dine out but it can break the bank so let me share with you some of my tricks that allow me to dine out often without breaking the bank or waistline.

 One of my go-to place for a cheap healthy meal is at Sprouts. They have sandwiches for $3.99. For a meal that is really a steal try Costco food court. They have a hot dog and drink for a $1.50. Or try a slice of pizza for $1.99 and it is more like two huge slices at Costco.

 Head to Chipotle and get a $2 bean and cheese burrito. They consider bean and cheese each side, which they charge $.95 for each and the tortilla is free.

 Happy hour deals to save money on dining out

Try Famous Dave’s BBQ they have a great happy hour. It is Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 pm and 8 pm to close. Plus weekends but hours vary from locations. They have $1 pork chop sliders, St. Louis style ribs for $2 each with a max of two.

Sandbar has happy hour Monday through Friday from 5 pm to 7 pm and Saturday and Sunday from open till 7 pm. You can score house margaritas for $5, $6 food menu items to chose from like nachos, quesadilla, mini chimis and more. Culinary dropout has happy hour Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 pm you can get a sangria for $4 or glass of wine for $5, plus their famous pretzels and fondue during happy hour will cost you $7.

 When looking for deals in your area try Yelp. It is a great app for finding restaurant deals near you. Just go to search bar and type in deal and list of places offering current deals near you will pop up. You will see the reviews based on stars plus location and the deals they are having

Strategies to eating out so you can maximize the most savings

Here are some strategies you should use in order to save the most when dining at restaurants.

Follow your favorite restaurant on social media. A lot of times they will offer deals to their followers.

Buy discounted gift cards at places that discount them. You can sometimes find discounted gift cards at Costco or Sam’s Club.  You can also find them on Groupon, Restaurant.com or Cardpool.com

Drink water, which could save you $2 to $3 a glass!

Choose restaurants with free appetizers then order a smaller entree. Think, Mexican restaurants with free chips and salsa or places that offer free bread. Olive Garden is another great example. Or better yet eat an appetizer as your main dish.

Finally order the large.  Sounds counter-intuitive right?! But this is great for families who have kids and it’s not a guarantee saver.  It all depends on your situation so make sure you do the math.

Here’s an example where you could save:  for instance at an ice cream parlor most parents will get there kid their own scoop.  If you have 3 kids and a small cone is $3 that’s $9 total.  A lot of times a large will still give you three scoops for $5 to $6, so you’ll save $3. Some times thinking out of the box will save you the most.

 

Save time and money with these lifehacks: dishwasher soap, carpet freshener and untangled earbuds

When it comes to saving money reusing and repurposing things can save you time and money I call them lifehacks. Here is a couple of my favorite lifehack’s that will save you time and money.

Keeping ear buds untangled

I hate when I go to use my ear buds and they are all tangled up. By using a binder clip you get those ear buds tangle-free. Just wind up your ear buds and place binder clip around the circle and voila no tangled buds. If you want to get fancy you can even hang them up using a thumbtack and the binder clip end to hang them.

Make your bananas last longer

Save money by making your bananas last longer with this simple trick. When you get home from the store simply wrap the stems of your bananas with either plastic wrap or tape. By making those stems not exposed it will take slow down the ripening process.

 

Homemade Dishwasher soap

I do not like spending money on household cleaners. I personally think it is a waste of money. You can make your own cleaners for a lot less money than you would buy them at a store. Plus when making your own you are using only natural products like baking soda, lemons, and vinegar that do not contain any dangerous chemicals.

 

Here is a tested recipe I found for making dishwasher soap. The cost is $.02 per load

1 cup Borax

1 cup washing soda

½ cup kosher salt

5 packets unsweetened lemonade

 

Mix it all together in a tight container for storage. When ready use 1 tsp. per load. If your dishes are really dirty use 2 tsp.

 

Homemade Carpet cleaner

Have your carpets smelling fresh without having to spend a lot of money and or use any harsh chemicals.

 

Take an old container that has will allow you sprinkle your freshener. Add 1/2 cup of baking soda and add 20 drops of tea tree oil and 20 drops of lavender essential oil into the shaker. Shake it all up. Let it sit for 24 hours. When you are ready to vacuum shake the freshener on your carpet, let it sit for 10 minutes. Then vacuum away. I think you will be very impressed with how clean and fresh your house smells. A simple, frugal solution to helping you save money. Carpet freshener from the store will cost you about $1.75 versus the homemade recipe will cost you $.50 for a batch.

Episode 13 and 14 February 16th Maximize Your Tax Refund, save on electric bill and more

SHOW HEADLINE/DESCRIPTION:

Episode 14  Maximize Your Tax Refund – Tax season is here! We’re talking about a tax profession to find out how you get back the biggest refund.  Then, a side-by-side comparison of Turbotax.com and HRBlock.com. Which website will save you the most?  Plus, where to score free tax services.

Episode 13: Save on Your Electric Bill (The Poor Man’s Way) –  Some uncommon and crazy ways you can save on your electric bill.  Plus, should you invest in solar panels? We’re breaking down the pros and cons.

This Week’s Guests:

Jim Simpson Ph.D., CPA from Scottsdale Community College to discuss ways to save the most on your taxes, plus some unique deductions you would never think of.

Annie DeGraw Public Relations with APS talked about ways to save on your power bills. to find out more information on the programs she mentioned just go to APS.com

 

Topics Discussed on the Show:

Scammers want your tax returns. What can you do to protect yourself?

A side by side comparison of tax software. Turbotax.com versus HRBlock.com, which one will give you the best bang for your buck?

Solar Panels should you get them or not? Are they worth the initial expense and how long will it take to get your investment back? 

Don’t get scammed on your taxes things to watch

It is tax season!

And I wanted to begin by giving everyone a warning:

And that warning is: Scammers are out and about!

Those scammers are calling people like you. Claiming they are from the IRS and you owe them big bucks! I’ll let you in on a little secret: The IRS will never and I repeat, never call you.

So if you get someone calling you claiming to be the IRS hang up the phone and tell him or her to “f” off. It’s not just over the phone. They are sending out fake emails. Asking for your information on your w2 or your social security number.

Not only will they call you but they’ll also try and file your tax return first! And steal your refund. So file now!

Those crooks even go as far as sending out emails that look like they are from legit places like H & R Block or Turbo Tax and when you click on the link it’ll send you to a ‘fake’ tax website, which will steal your information. So don’t click on those! If in doubt don’t click instead make a call to verify and keep your money safe.

 

 

Who will give you the best bang for your buck when it comes to tax software?

Who will give you the best bang for your buck when it comes to tax software?

This is a debate I have in my house every year, H&R Block Versus Turbo Tax.

As a single woman, I’ve always used H&R Block.  So I’m a little biased to it. Now that I’m married my husband uses Turbo Tax. I handle the monthly budget.  He handles the taxes. So now we use Turbo Tax because that’s what he prefers.

So I wanted to break it down and see which one will fit your needs better.

On the surface, both have similar prices. You will pay around $90 bucks for the premier version and one state filing.

But if you dig a little deeper you’ll notice: Turbo Tax’s “throw it all at us” version, which is designed for those of you who are entrepreneurs or landlords is more than $100. H&R Block’s is about $25 dollars cheaper.

Also, H&R Blocks expanded free works with the 1040 and Schedule A this year. As opposed to the 1040ez or the 1040a.

If you are in the military: Turbo tax will give you a discount but it isn’t much.

Now let’s talk about the differences with those paid versions:

Itemizers will probably be ok with the deluxe versions so you don’t need to shell out the extra dough. Those premium services are usually for those who are serious investors or have rental properties.

If you’re self-employed Turbo Tax will make you pay for another option, which is their self-employed version.

H&R Blocks premium version should be able to handle the heavy lifting. Which is why in the long run H&R Block could be cheaper for you. Both will handle your state returns. They’ll both also let you e-file for free.

So when it comes to prices I’d have to say I won this academic debate with my husband. If you need all the bells and whistles then H&R Block is better. However, if you are just your basic filer and not an entrepreneur the prices are the same.

On the other hand, when it comes to ease of use, I hear Turbo Tax wins that debate.

Again, I’ve never used Turbo Tax but I’ve read a lot of blogs and talked to a lot of people and the general consensus is TurboTax.com is more user-friendly with their Q&A style, intuitive interface. However, no one said H&R Block was terrible. Just that Turbo Tax was a tiny bit better. Again, I’m not a tax whiz and I was able to figure it out just fine. So really it all comes down to your individual needs and what you feel comfortable with.  Both are stellar Website services and will get the job DONE!

Are buying solar panels worth it?

Living in Arizona the sun shines about 300 days of the year so having solar panels might be a no-brainer, but what about the cost? Are the benefits worth the expense? How long will it be till you can recoup your money back?

I did some research and discovered solar panels have come down significantly in price compared to 1970’s. Solar panels use to cost $70 per watt where as now they cost around $1 per watt. That is just the cost for the panels it does not include the cost of installation. On average you will pay about $3.50 per watt for those panels and installation.

Let’s break it down the cost of those panels. On average a solar panel system on a 2,000 to 2,500 square foot home is around 5000 watts. The average cost for those panels is $3.50 per watt, times that by 5000; your cost for that system is $17,500.

Don’t forget those tax credits. They are in effect until 2019. This will reduce your overall cost for those solar panels. Currently, if you purchased a new solar system for your home you can get a 30% tax credit off the total cost from the feds and 25% for Arizona residence with a maximum cap of $1,000. Take those credits, which comes out to $6000 at the end of the year you’ll pay just $11,500 with tax credits for those panels.

How long will it take you to recoup your investment on those panels? You figure an average monthly utility bill will run you around $150 a month. If you take that amount and divide it by your cost of panels in this example it will take 6 years and 4 months to get your return on your investment of $11,500. You have to decide if this works for you. After the 6 years, your electric bill will amount to almost nothing every month. If you are planning on being in your house for the long term this maybe the route to go. If it were less than 6 years I wouldn’t do it.

Keep in mind I only looked at the options for buying your solar panel out right. If you decide to lease your panels that maybe more affordable in terms of monthly payments but you will be paying a lot more than $3.50 per watt for those panels because they focus on overall monthly out of pocket, not the total cost.

Again my advice you do the math whether it is buying out right or leasing and decide if the cost will out weight the benefits.

Federal tax credit description

https://energy.gov/savings/residential-renewable-energy-tax-credit

State tax credit description

http://www.azleg.gov/viewdocument/?docName=http://www.azleg.gov/ars/43/01083.htm

 

 

 

Episode 11 and 12, February 9th, Free tech services from your public libraries, plus reduced vaccinations for your pet, Deal of the Day at Venezia’s

Episode 11-  Hip to Snip:  Local non-profit, Altered Tails, shares where you can find low-cost options to spay or neuter your pets.

Episode 12 – Sweet Valentine’s Day Savings: Find out how you can save on some of the most popular Valentine’s day gifts.  Or even better yet, find out how you can celebrate for FREE!

This Week’s Guests:

Sandy Rizzo with the Red Mountain library branch in Mesa

Ellen with Altered Tails

Topics Discussed on the Show:

Think Spot free technology and learning center at the Red Mountain Branch Library in Mesa. To find out more information go to Mesathinkspot.org

To find out more about the services mention from Mesa public libraries go to Mesalibrary.org

Find a library near you in Maricopa county go to Publiclibraries.com/arizona.htm

Find Affordable neutering and spaying for your pets. Plus get low-cost vaccinations services check out Altered Tails

For other free or affordable neutering or spaying check out:

Maricopa County Animal Care and Control offers free monthly events on a first come first serve basis. Usually, these monthly clinics can get up to 25 pets neutered or spayed during an event. To find out when the next event is happening to go  Maricopa.gov/pets/snip

Also if you need low-cost vaccinations check the Arizona Humane Society affordable vaccination clinics go to Azhumane.org/veterinary-services/vaccinations/

Score a slice of pizza for $1.25. It is a Smart Shopper Deal of the Day with Venezia’s happening on Sunday, February 12, 2017. Click here for all the details

Smart Shopper Deal of the Day with Venezia’s Pizzeria

Smart Shoppers score an exclusive Deal of the Day at Venezia’s on Sunday, February, 12th 2017. Stop in and mention you heard it on The Smart Shopper Show and get a slice of cheese or one topping pizza for just $1.25. If you want pizza for the entire crew you can get a large cheese or one topping pizza for half off the regular price. Normal a large one topping would cost you $13.50 but you will get for just less than$7. This deal is only good on Sunday and only two discounts person and no delivery ONLY dine in or take out.