Oct 31, 2008

Save money using The Cloud

Cloud computing is the new Internet buzz-word.
Cloud Computing ensures storage scalability for data including pictures, movies, and video, while providing complete secure access from any computer in the world. If you’ve ever lost data because of a system crash, harddrive failure, or even realized that you’ve left important documents at home or the office, cloud can ensure that you won’t be in that bind again.

Office Software
Cloud computing can save you money by eliminating the need for you to purchase some software. A good example of this is with Microsoft Office. According to Microsoft, Office will cost you at minimum $149.95, or up to $679.95. You could upgrade for $239.95 to 539.95 (link).
Well, there are pirated versions … but why chance malicious code or viruses and more than that why steal and be subject to prosecution. Use the cloud! Google allows you to use most of the functionality of Office with Googledocs (link). Once you set up an account you can enable gears that will allow you access to the files locally. Most of the functionality here seems to be based on OpenOffice (link), originally developed by Sun. This software gives you free legal license to office software for word processing, spreadsheets, drawing, and databases on almost any platform.

Screen Capture
Now that you have basic office software and with google docs you can share your documents you might want even more office freebies. Well if you’re attempting to show things that are on your computer screen you may want to take screen captures. Of course you could use “alt-printscreen” on a PC or “Command-Shift-3” on a Macintosh, but using those built in utilities you may leave you with excess images such as your menu bar. Try Jing (link) from Techsmith. It’s nice, easy, and free. Go download it. This won't save you money, as the basic functionality exist on your machine, but you'll save lots of time.

Fax Software
Need to receive faxes but don’t have a fax machine? If you’re computer has a modem (that’s connected to phone line) you can probably use the software that can with your computer. But, what if you’re not connected to a phone line or even on the phone. Try efax. Efax (link) will give you a fax number that will receive faxes then forward them to you email. There’s a limit per month but it works very well. I’ve used it for years. You can send faxes either from your modem or use FaxZero (link). Again there’s a limit for free usage but it works well when someone cannot receive a file via email. This could save you on the cost of a seldom used fax machine and definitly the electricity used by the machine being on constantly.

Free Internet Access
Many free services require that you have Internet access. I carry my main machine, a laptop, with me most places and get free Internet access easily and freely quite often. Often there are open personal wireless networks with which one can connect. There are free wireless networks at most schools and universities. And almost every library across the U.S. has wireless access. Also here’s a list of free hotspots. Just remember to visit the site and save a document with locations before you need them.

Turning Any Computer Into Your Own
Have you ever been away from your computer and wanted access to you files? Well you could enable filesharing from your computer, use shared documents on googledocs, or try Desktop 2 (link). This software from Sun is like having a virtual computer. Files stored here are accessible from any computer with an internet connection. Once logged in, you have a desktop, similar to Windows or Macintosh OS, with all the files you use. Free access is always good.

Free Conference Calling
Do you want to get people communicating together for free? Try FreeConferenceCall.com (link). You should be able to save some money for your small or large business easily.

Free Entertainment
No need to pay for DVD rentals or purchases or even to go to the movies. Try SurfTheCannel (link).

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Oct 30, 2008

Eat for less than $5 per day.

For $5 you could get a foot-long or maybe a burger and fries off the dollar menu, but that’s one meal on one day. How about $5 for three full meals?
This first Why Pay More post is all about eating well at rock bottom prices.
Food, we all must have it and I’ve feed myself well for a month for less than the cost of a night or two out. If you want to try this you’ll need to do a little cooking, but it’s not hard and I’ll take you through it step-by-step. Yes, you’ll need to invest a little time, but I’ve found that most of it can be done on the weekend while you’re doing you other chores, like cleaning or washing clothes, usually an hour or two on Sunday for me. Throughout the week when you’re busy with work and life, you’ll simply heat up a meal. There’s little real cooking during the week.
You will need some kitchen basics, which I’ll go into detail about later things like pots, pans, plastic wrap, etc. So, what on the menu? No, you won’t be eating Ramen and cornflakes like a college student.
Here are some sample menus
Menu 1
Braised Short Ribs
Buttered Noodles
Green Beans
Menu 2
Roasted Chicken
Mashed Potatoes
Menu 3
Menu 4
Fried Chicken
Rice and Beans
Menu 5
Pot Roast
Roasted Potatoes
Roasted Vegetables
Menu 6
Pasta w/meat sauce
Menu 7
Chicken Salad
Pasta Salad
Menu 8
Pepper Steak
Menu 9
Curried Chicken
Here’s a look at the shopping list. The prices were sourced from Safeway’s website. Feel free to research the prices or maybe find better prices elsewhere. I am not, nor do I expect you to be, a calorie counter, but the average adult needs about 2,000 calories per day, so this list calculates the minimum number of calories in this list to ensure that there are at least 60,000 (2,000 per day for 30 days)
Shopping List

To download an Excel version click Shopping List
Here is the first recipe. Check back for more.

Braised Beef Ribs

This recipe delivers a hearty, simple, one pot, stove top dish that allows you to start cooking then walk away as it finishes itself. Take the simmer time to read a book, watch TV, exercise, or do house chores. You’ll be well rewarded when you’re done. True oenophiles may choose to substitute wine for the water or some of the stock mentioned in this recipe.

2 tablespoon oil (olive oil, butter, or blend)
4 pounds beef back ribs – individually cut (big ones, not thin cross cuts)
1 onion - chopped
3 carrots - chopped
3 celery ribs - chopped
2 tablespoons flour
4 garlic cloves – peeled and chopped
2 cups beef stock, homemade or reduced sodium chicken broth or bullion
1 cup water
One 14 1/2-ounce can tomatoes
1 bay leaf
salt to taste
black pepper to taste

1. Heat a large pot or stovetop safe casserole dish on stove top using medium-high heat until warm
2. Add onion, carrots, and celery (do not stir)
3. Add olive oil, butter, a pinch of salt and pepper (do not stir)
4. Once onion, carrots, and celery slightly brown, stir
5. Remove onion, carrots, and celery to a plate or bowl, once slightly browned but still firm (do not reduce heat or clean pot)
6. Add beef back ribs to pot in batches to pot to quickly brown outside (do not cook through) after browning set aside on a separate plate.
7. Add one half of the slightly browned onion, carrots, celery back to the pot along with chopped garlic
8. Reduce heat to medium
9. Cook until vegetables are soft
10. Add flour and stir until incorporated and slightly browned (not burned)
11. Add stock and canned tomatoes
12. Use a potato masher, whisk, wooden spoon, mixer, or blender to blend cooked vegetables, smooth (or at least less chunky)
13. Reduce heat to medium low
14. Add browned beef back ribs and any juices to pot
15. Add water as needed to slightly cover ribs
16. Add bay leaf
17. Skim any excess fat
18. Simmer uncovered until braising liquid is reduced by half (1 to 2 hours)
19. Remove and discard bay leaf
20. Add remaining half browned but firm vegetables
21. Heat until vegetables are warm
22. Season with salt and pepper to taste then serve
Makes 8 servings. Eat one now.
Once you’re done. Bag or plate the other 7 individual servings and refrigerate or freeze them for another day.

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Oct 29, 2008


Welcome to my Why Pay More blog.
This blog is dedicated to saving you money in our current tough times. Through the posts here, we’ll explore cost saving measures that will greatly reduce expenses and some that are free. Use these tips, links, and skills to save money for yourself, family, or company. Topics will include eating cheap, energy saving tips, reducing the cost of computing, and lowering expenses in general.

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