How to Save Money on Spaying and Neutering

Recently, we got a little fuzzy friend. He’s a little orange fellow who’s awfully adorable with his love of chasing laser pointer lights and curling up in my arms while I’m typing. He’s about five months old, and it’s nearing time for the great betrayal. I understand that getting him neutered is a no-brainer, but I’ve been intimidated by the costs of going to a clinic or vet hospital to get the job done. Here is how to save money on spaying and neutering.

Options for Spaying and Neutering

Petsmart, or other pet store
This was more of an emergency clinic, taking care of sick dogs and cats. When we asked about this routine surgery, we were quoted a price of $250 for spaying and $200 for neutering. While we are striving valiantly to make that kind of money, we haven’t reached the point where we can spare that kind of cash in the budget for an indoor kitty.

The vets in our local area are rather cagey about posting their prices online, though an informal survey showed that the prices were just a little bit under the ones offered by Petsmart. While this is definitely an option for developing rapport with one of the vets in the area, we don’t want to break the bank with our cat’s needs.

Humane Society
The Humane Society offers low-cost spay and neutering to people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it. They offer links to organizations who are able to help out here.

Through the Humane Society website, we found out that Friends of Animals offers spaying and neutering certificates, offsetting some of the costs of taking care of our fuzzy friends. Their certificate costs are:

  • Female Cat Spay – $65
  • Male Cat Neuter – $51
  • Female Dog Spay – $90
  • Male Dog Neuter – $64

To save money on spaying and neutering, the best option would be to go to the Humane Society and examine the resources which are available there. When you have a little extra cash and wish to give to a worthy cause, donate to any one of the organizations listed by the Humane Society. They do wonders for animals, making sure that they stay healthy.

This picture courtesy of Maarjaara on Flickr and is used through the Creative Commons license.

What resources have you found for cheaply spaying and neutering your fuzzy friends?

9 Solid Tips About How to Save Money on Electricity

Power bills account for $2200 in the average yearly household budget, making it third in household expenditures behind food. By taking steps to become more efficient, you are not only decreasing the amount of energy you are using (making your home more green), but you are keeping more money in your pocket. Here are 9 tips about how to save money on electricity.

I personally save over $50 each month.

1. Hot Water Heater Insulation

Wrap a hot water heater blanket around your hot water heater. This will keep the water hot a little bit longer, reducing the energy needs of the tank.

2. Replace Old Appliances

As appliances become older, they become less efficient in doing their jobs. That 20 year old dishwasher that you picked up at a yard sale will use more water than the Energy Star model, and it is more likely to break down.

3. Clean Air and Lint Filters

Cleaning the air filter for your air conditioning unit and the lint filter for your dryer will improve the effectiveness of these appliances by allowing air to flow more freely around the unit.

4. Get it Checked

Get a technician to come and take a look at your larger appliances. They might have suggestions to keep themm running longer, saving you more money. Their ‘tune up’ of your appliances will also give them a small boost.

5. Check for Leaks

Air leaks around windows allow air to come in from the outside. If you are running an air conditioning unit, it has to work harder. Many homes waste up to 25% of their energy through leaks and other easily repaired inconsistencies.

6. Keep the Temperature Stable

Find a temperature for your home and stick with it. One of the best ways to save money is to keep your home just a little colder in winter, and just a little warmer in summer. Your pocketbook will thank you.

7. Look at the Fridge

If your fridge is anything like mine, there’s plenty of stuff which can be thrown away. There are pickled radishes, there are greens which aren’t green, and more. Your refrigerator needs the air circulation to keep the good stuff cool.

8. Lights

Changing the light bulbs from the old lights to the new CFL bulbs will save money because they last longer and they’re more energy efficient. While you might be thrown off by the slightly increased price tags, it will pay back its price tenfold in energy savings.

9. Avoid Pre-Washing

Countless gallons of water are used by pre-washing the dishes before they get put into the dishwasher. They only need a simple scrape into the compost pile before they’re set into the racks. The energy efficient dishwashers on the market today take smaller amounts of water and will clean just as well.

Saving money on electricity is not only great for your pocketbook, but it’s great for the environment. Doing your part doesn’t have to be tedious – just think about the great things that you can do with the extra cash.

Photo courtesy of D.C. Atty on Flickr. Used with respect to the Creative Commons License.

For more suggestions about how to save on YOUR power bills, check out this page.

Crowdsourcing to Save Money

Unless you are a trust fund baby, independently wealthy or some sort of entertainment or banking star you probably have wondered at some point in time (maybe within the past few minutes even), how you can possibly save enough money. We are told inflation is tame, that it is ok to spend and everything will be alright, but in the meantime it seems we have less money every month.

As the saying goes, two heads are better than one so why not 25 heads? Some of the top personal finance bloggers have come together to crowdsource ways to save more money and here they are for your saving pleasure: Crowdsourcing works, if you’re willing to listen to the answers.

1. Steve from Money Infant – My favorite way to save more money is by making more money. Keep your expenses stable and don’t become a victim of lifestyle creep and every extra dollar you make is another dollar saved. Plus it is fun and exciting and the potential to increase your savings is theoretically unlimited. The saying spend less than you earn doesn’t always mean you have to spend less, it can also mean you need to earn more.

2. Emily from Million Ways to Save – My favorite way to save more money is to be mindful of saving money. By taking those first steps toward mindfulness and your money, you can thwart the personal demons of loss of self control and bad spending. Saving money is all about keeping a little more in your pocket, rather than having personal financial regret.

I’m sending this on to Haru over at I’m Bleeding Money. He’s got plenty of money saving tips up his sleeve! 🙂

According to the Wikipedia entry, the global video game market in June 2011 was valued at $65 billion. That number doesn’t surprise me at all, actually. In fact, I expected that number to be a lot more because of the casual gamers and the WoW players. That $20 a month subscription definitely adds up when you multiply it by 15 million people. Here are some excellent ways to cut down the cost that YOU are paying to the video game industry.

1. Use Older Consoles

We have a PS2 here, one which is used quite liberally for the Japanese RPGs. Quite often, I’ll pass by and see fights in Mana Khemia or one of the Final FantasyFinal Fantasy games. If you’ve not played it, it’s new to you, right? The cost of a PS2 on Amazon is $99. The cost of a PS3 is $250.

The difference in the games themselves is just as dramatic. For one of the newer games on the PS3, you can expect to pay $50. For one of the games on the PS2, you’re looking at around $20. The savings you can receive on these games definitely adds up.

2. Borrow From Friends

There’s a great possibility that your friends have some of the same tastes as you when it comes to your favorite video games. If the both of you are gamers, you might have had long arguments over whether an amped up Mephisto run was harder than The Ancients in Act 5. If they play the latest and greatest games, see if you can borrow one of them. Chances are, they’ll say yes and you don’t have to spend a dime.

3. Reviews

Reviews are your friend. They can give you an excellent idea about whether a game sucks, what the sticking points are, and other information which will form your opinion about whether you want to spend your precious time on a game that can last many hours.

Some excellent game review sites are:
Gamespot
IGN
Metacritic
Gamespy
1Up

These sites offer reviews on both the latest and greatest as well as the older games. If you find out that the game sucks, watch the ending on Youtube and save yourself the cash.

4. Play Flash Games

Yes, there are thousands of free flash games which don’t measure up to your standards, but there are always going to be a few gems which do. As a gamer who wants to save some money, you can quell that thirst for games at one of the many free flash game sites around the web. The best one of these that I’ve seen is Jay Is Games. This site caters more to the indy crowd, highlighting games from small developers who want to make their mark. They offer eclectic and honest reviews of the games, and haven’t steered me wrong.

5. Try Before You Buy

For those folks out there who love the hidden object, match 3, and adventure games, take a look at Big Fish Games. Every game on their site is $9.99 or less, and they offer a 1 hour trial period on all of them (with few exceptions). I can’t tell you how many games that I’ve tossed back into the pond after playing the free trial. If you’ve already got one of the popular systems, you can play some of the latest and greatest games at a store which carries them (don’t buy your games there, just play theirs).

6. Gamefly

Gamefly is a service which is much like Netflix. You can rent up to 2 games at one time for a fee of $22.95 a month. Instead of purchasing a game and being stuck with it, you return it as soon as you’re done. For those like me who love trying out everything, this makes a perfect fit because you have unlimited access to their expansive library. You have the choice to simply download the game or have the disc mailed to your home.

7. Internet Cafes

Gamers are everywhere and internet cafes are springing up to take advantage of the business. These internet cafes offer LAN services so that you and your buddies can play great games on state-of-the-art machines. If you’ve been itching to try out the new FPS, you have your chance. You can expect to pay around $10 an hour to play, so it is not cost-effective in the long run, but it is quite useful for a single-shot skirmish.

Video games is often thought to be an expensive hobby, but it doesn’t have to be at all. Using these tips, I spent around $30 on games last year. I’m expecting to pay more this year because I want to get my hands on Diablo 3 and Borderlands 2. When you keep money in your pocket, you have more for the biggest, best, fastest, and strongest passions in your life.

Three Not Too Pricey Valentine’s Ideas was a great read, filled with some awesome advice about the upcoming Valentine’s day shuffle. In thinking about it, I realized that my guy and I are extremists when it comes to holidays and shopping.

Our 8 year anniversary was yesterday, and though we said our happy anniversaries to one another, there were no gifts exchanged. My guy went to the store and picked up cat food, a chicken, some ice cream, and some popcorn – something which could have been done any day but just happened to be done on our special date. There were no secret anniversary-only plans.

We didn’t exchange gifts on Yule, either. There weren’t great amounts of cash spent on gifts for ourselves or our friends. We didn’t send out cards. In fact, the only things that he spent money for were the tree and the ornaments. This was a new thing – normally, we don’t spend anything on the holidays.

Valentine’s day acknowledges the fact that there are people who are willing to die for love. It’s somewhat based on a priest who died simply for joining others in matrimony. The commercialized version of Valentine’s Day says that we’re to offer tokens of appreciation for our loved ones in the form of cards, gifts, and more.

Five Free Gifts for Valentine’s Day

1. Gratitude

Your partner is willing to share their life with you on a continuing basis, not just on Valentine’s day. There are going to be times that you don’t like them. There will be times that you’re insanely in love with them. Look at the times in between and thank your partner for the stability and joy that they’ve brought to your life.

2. Services

One of the best gifts that I’ve received was the gift of having my guy clean the kitchen for me. He washed all of the dishes, swept the floor, got the counters, and more, staving off the need to have to wash dishes for several days. I will happily edit his book and cook his meals. For Valentine’s Day, I plan to go out of my way.

3. Love Letters

This was suggested in Tracy’s post, and there are excellent recommendations associated with it. Love letters are free, and they hopefully appropriately express the sentiments that are held for the other person. Here are some further tips on writing the love letter.

How to Write the Perfect Love Letter in 3 Short Paragraphs

4. Charity

We don’t necessarily go out and work at homeless shelters, but both of us take the time to help others in the ways which we are able. He is often devising workings to help our friends, and I am constantly reformatting their resumes. One of the best ways to say that you’re on board with a person is to work toward a cause which in which they believe. There is so much returned from charity that it’s difficult to say that it’s a one-way street.

5. Presentation

Marketers will tell you that it’s all in the presentation. Take something ordinary and put some flourishes and touches on it to make it distinctly yours. One of the things that I’ve done to spice up our meals is to write words and put hearts in them. I’ve recently been making meals that have some of the same design concepts as Epic Meal Time, but flowers and other edibles add a nice touch, too.

Whether it is February 14th or September 22nd, every day is Valentine’s Day. Purchasing gifts is one of the easiest ways to approach the season because the sentiment is ready-made. When you go a little deeper than mere trinkets, you open opportunities to truly connect with those loved ones. Free gifts will go a LOT further than the cards, rings, and flowers.

Image attribution goes to Epsos on Flickr

How to Save Money at Conventions

I am one of the couple hundred for whom the new year doesn’t start until I sing Auld Lang Syne at GaFilk. GaFilk is a convention for incredibly talented singers and entertainers (some of them professional) who also happen to be in the science fiction and fantasy community. Think about every time that you’ve made up new words to songs, that’s filking.

There’s a good definition of what filk is over here for those who are curious. That article explains it much more thoroughly than I can.

The convention itself is held the first weekend after the new year, and has been a long standing tradition. If you’ve never been to a con before, think about going to one, whether it be a financial bloggers convention or a science fiction convention or a furry covention or … well, just go to one. It’s an experience that should be had at least once during your life, no matter how staid and normaly that you believe you are. Go with an open mind, and you will be rewarded.

All told, between the room, food, gas, membership, and swag, we’re (me, my mother, and TUM) going to spend between $600-$700 for the entire adventure. It’s WELL worth it. As a financial blogger, I would be remiss if I didn’t offer up some tips about how to be frugal and still have fun.

1. Save up during the year
Calculate how much you want to spend for the convention. Depending on travel costs, a convention can easily top the $1000 mark for a single three day event. I can tell you from experience that it’s still well worth it. The earlier that you decide to go to a convention, the better, because you can save up your cash during the course of the year.

2. Make a grocery run or bring your own food
Most conventions have a con(vention) suite where, for the price of membership, you can get munchies and sodas which will carry you through the course of the convention. The stock of the con suites vary from con to con, some having ‘real food’ and others having slim pickins. If you buy a loaf of bread and get some PB&J, you should be set for food.

I spend a lot more money on food at a convention than anything else. It can often be bunches more than the con itself. Hotel food is expensive, and you can’t count on there always being reasonable fast food or restaurants around the area. The PB&J sandwiches will cost you under $10 and save you a ton.

3. Capitalize on your Travel Discounts
If you need to fly to the location, take advantage of your frequent flyer miles and the other discounts that you tend to use when you have to travel. Sometimes, because of the stuff that you’re bringing, it’s easier to drive to the con (and avoid the excess baggage fees). Either way, I figure that you know of the best ways to redeem miles and get plane tickets.

4. Carpool
Most conventions have message boards, where general excitement is built up around the convention, the guests that are going to be there, and more. Usually, there are rideshares offered on this board, which can significantly cut your travel costs. It gives you a chance to hang out with a new person for a little while, one who is considered part of the X (science fiction, financial blogging, anime geek, board gaming, etc) family.

5. Make a List of Stuff to Bring
It’s a foregone conclusion for seasoned congoers that there’s always going to be something forgotten at home. Many just hope that the thing that they forget isn’t too terribly important. When you make a list of things to bring, it saves you from needing to get replacement items at the gift shop or in the local area. Like with gas prices, food prices are sometimes more expensive even in the local area because of convenience.

Conventions themselves are relaxing events (most of the time) because you get the opportunity to see friends, hang out with like minded people, and enjoy the comforts of another venue. They’re (generally) well worth going to, cost less than many vacation activities, and let you get a good recharge in your life. I’m going to be at GaFilk over the next few days, and will return on Monday (more than likely, I’ll be singing a song).