Tag Archives: savings

Buying vs. Leasing Technology Hardware


Courtesy Dream Designs

Lease or buy technology hardware?  Black consumers need to ask themselves this question because, as I have said before, Black people don’t play when it comes to money. 

Consider your cellphone; cell phone carriers have long practiced the art of selling you a cellphone with their service without actually selling you a cell phone. You know the deal, sign a two year contract and get the cellphone for free or at a discount. Cellphones have never been cheap and the true price of the phones are buried in your wireless bill. Now cell carriers are dropping those two year contracts, slashing monthly fees and creating new programs for the actual cost of the phone.  The option of buying or leasing a phone has become serious money choice.

Consider this, cheaper phones means a cheaper bill every month. If you are sensitive to the steep price of some of the more advanced phones you can drop your monthly bill by selecting a cheaper phone. 

But lets face it; the best way to save big money is to keep your old phone. Think about it, do your really need the latest smartphone just because it’s the newest thing on the market? That is what the cellphone makers want you to think!

Once your current phone is paid for that cost comes off your bill putting $20-30 a month back in your pocket.  Before the death of two year contracts service providers didn’t lower your bill even if you didn’t upgrade to a newer device.

If you must have a new phone for whatever reason you can always buy a nice refurbished smartphone. They are often just a year or two old and much cheaper than brand new phones. Many of these phones are refurbished by the manufacturer and are hard to tell from new. Finding these phones is simple just search online.

You have to do the math and see where your best deal is. Sprint and other carriers are offering some interesting deals where you get to upgrade the phone every two years without actually buying it. Sprint comes right out and says you are leasing it.

At the end of the lease you have the option of turning in the old phone (just two years) and getting an upgrade and keep paying. Or you can pay off the balance on the phone and just pay for the monthly service. 

AT&T recently has changed its phone plans making it tough to own a phone. Where it once offered three plans AT&T now offers only two. The new plan, titled AT&T Next Every Year, offers an annual upgrade and lets you trade-in your current phone as long as you’ve paid 50 percent of its retail value. The other option, AT&T’s Next plan, offers a 30-month financing plan. With AT&T Next you trade-in your phone after two years as long as you’ve paid 80 percent of its value. You also have the option of 24, 18 or 12 month lease plans. But you need to check the fine print on these plans. Both plans require you to trade-in the financed device meaning there’s no option to simply pay one off and start fresh with a new device or just buying a service plan. You just keep paying. The cellphone industry is getting tricky so you need to seriously consider buying versus leasing your next phone.

Another area to consider lease versus buy is your home Internet connectivity. Ask yourself this question; how long have you been leasing you Internet router and cable modem? Probably years. Now do the math. How much would a new router and modem cost you that you own free and clear? As little as $99 each. The average person can save as much as $250 dollars a year depending on the combination of router and service you currently pay for.  Starting to get the picture?

Here are a few things to think about when considering leasing versus buying a router and modem. To start make sure the equipment you buy is compatible with your Internet providers networks. You can usually find that information on their website or give them a call. Also consider technical things like learning how to configure it for maximum performance and security. If you have multiple wireless devices in your home you must consider how your router will perform and that includes television and telephone service. Some routers have a limited number of devices it can service effectively. Finally, if you have trouble or a breakdown of equipment you are responsible for repair or replacement of the equipment. 

With a lease you won’t have these worries. You just call your provider and problem solved.

Now you know.



App of The Week: Mint Financial Management App

MintcomPaying bills is not the most exciting of chores. But it has to be done. And of course keeping track of your money and managing your budget is even less exciting. But as I always say; black people don’t play when it comes to money. You better be on top of it.  The Mint app can help you do both.

The Mint app connects to any U.S. bank or financial institution that is online.  But that is not the end of the Mint’s abilities. Mint can link all of your accounts including investments, retirement funds, credit cards, and other financial accounts. The app quickly gives you a complete picture of your financial health. Mint is free and capable of supporting more banks in more places  but only in the U.S. and Canada.

The app also helps you create a household budget and warns you if you if you stray away from it. Mint allows you to see how much you’re spending  and on what. It helps you manage all types of household purchases or utilities, set up savings goals, and help you to stick to them. The Mint app doesn’t actually touch your money. What it does is use read-only access to show you everything you are doing with your money in real time. It suggests financial products to you that could help you save money over time like showing lower-interest credit cards or higher-interest savings accounts. Some might call that advertising. Mint was named one of the Five Best Personal Financial Tools by LifeHacker.com

But in all honesty there are some issues with the Mint app. The user has to share a significant amount of his or her financial information with the service. As you can well imagine this leaves them vulnerable to a potential hacker or data breach. Especially if you are using an Android phone which are prone to malware. It is, no doubt, a serious risk to place your financial life in the hands of the app.  An article in the New York Times asks; “Should You Trust Mint.com?”

Mint.com  understands that consumers are leery of entering all of their bank information into its site. As a result of this concern, and to gain more customers, Mint.com has introduced a new service that does not require the user to reveal their financial information but still help them reach long term financial goals.

After examining the app I have still decided to award it the App of the Week. Why? Because although you can you don’t have to use it as a total financial management tool.  A smart person would never put all their eggs in one basket. Using the app to manage your household budget and pay bills is enough.  Leave managing your 401k and other investment accounts to the pros.

Mint is available on AppleAndroid and Windows phones.

Online Coupons Save Black Families Money


Courtesy of Stuart Miles

Back in the 80’s there was a rap song with some interesting lyrics.  It went like this, “Its All About Money Ain’t a Damn This Funny!” African-Americans know that’s real. And its not about how much money you make but how much you keep in your pocket. So I’m here to talk  about coupons that you can find on the Internet.

Black people need to understand how much money using coupons can save them. The simple fact is that black families can save as much as 50% a month on their grocery bill by using coupons. Do you need a better reason to start couponing?

Did you know the more coupons you use the more come your way. You know I complain constantly about corporate spying but here is an example where all that data benefits the African-American consumer. When you use coupons retailers become aware of this and begin to target you for more coupons. They may show up in your mail box, or in your email. Have you ever taken a good look at your store receipt? Check the back of it. A lot of great money saving coupons are printed on the back of your receipt. I saved $7 at a CVS pharmacy. My purchase went form $10.00 to $3.00 just by looking at the back of a receipt. I’m being real with you. The retailer’s objective is to get you back in the store to buy more. Your objective is to get what you want for less money. You can when this game by carefully selecting the coupons you need. Make sure you shop on the off days for the grocery store. Yes, some days are better than others when grocery shopping.  The best day for grocery shopping is Wednesday. Remember that.

Here is the best news, you don’t have to clip and cut coupons from a newspaper, but I suggest you do. You can use your smartphone to download coupons on the run. There a plenty of coupon and shopping apps that will save you money on everything from apples to gasoline to shoes. But you gotta be in the game! Saving money is very possible if you work at it. You can find the best coupon websites here. Now some of these sites will request an email address so they can email you printable coupons. Here is where a little of the work comes in. Set up special email account just for your grocery and shopping coupons. Then make a practice of checking it a couple of times a week before you do your “WEDNESDAY” grocery shopping.

Another good practice is to pull that smartphone out when you are in the store. I don’t care what store you’re in. Do a quick search on your smartphone for available coupons. You might be surprised what you find. For example, I was in an art store buying assorted supplies. I whipped out my iPhone and did quick search for the store coupons. I came upon a coupon for 50% off any one item. So I decided to use the coupon on the most expensive item resulting in a savings of $23.00. That’s $23.00 that stayed in my pocket when I walked out the store. I shared this information with two other black women who had found a coupon online for only 40% off. I save my sistahs another 10%.

Look, if you have a family they need to eat, they need clothes, school supplies, you need gas for the car and you need what you need. Start using the Internet for your benefit by searching for coupons wherever you happen to be shopping at the moment. Do it  before you get in line or while standing in line. But do it. Have them email you the coupons directly. Do it! Hold on to your money! Cause money ain’t funny!

Now you know.