Saturday, March 16, 2013

My Laptop Hard Drive Broke

A few weeks ago I accidentally broke my Lenovo laptop's hard drive.  Let me start off by saying this was totally my fault.  I had placed a couple of heavy objects on my desk's shelves and one of my daughters asked for an item.  While I was grabbing for it one of the heavy items fell off the shelf and landed squarely on my laptop which was on at the time. Immediately it started making a weird noise so I tried to go to Windows and shut it down, but the mouse cursor was unresponsive so I manually pressed the button to turn it off.

When I tried booting up my computer again it seemed to load correctly and reached the windows screen.  It didn't make the weird noise anymore, but unfortunately when I tried to use the mouse or open any program the laptop stuttered and wasn't responsive.  I tried running a memory scan, but this did little to help the situation.

I called up my brother since he is the computer wiz in my family, and he told me to try to load an Ubuntu disk to retrieve my saved work and files.  I went over to his apartment and picked up an Ubuntu CD, and successfully loaded the CD and was able to run Ubuntu.  I then proceeded to transfer my files over to a USB stick. 

My next step was to buy a new hard drive at Best Buy.  I was able to get the same amount of space for about $30. 

I then called Lenovo support to ask them for recovery disks.  I had to talk to two different people and their phone support was terrible.  I could barely hear them, because the line was fuzzy and scratchy.  The first thing they did was check and see if my laptop was still under warranty, and after giving two different people the same information; they concluded that it wasn't.  I was fine with this I knew my laptop was over a year old, I just wanted my installation disks to fix my computer! They then asked me what model I had, and I told them it was an Ideapad Y560.  After 30 minutes of being on the phone I was able to get them to send me the disks, but it would cost me $50! I ponied up the money with my credit card.


After two weeks my disks arrived in the mail, but to my dismay they were for the Y460 model, and not the Y560 model that I told them several times! I was livid, but I ran the disks and it installed most of the software correctly.  The only problem was the disks didn't have the correct graphics card drivers.  I went to the Lenovo website and with the help of my brother we were able to find the right drivers and install them.

Two Lessons Learned From This Incident

  • Never overload and place heavy items on my desk shelf area again.
  • I will not be purchasing a Lenovo brand laptop again. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Shopping for Sister's Birthday

My sister's birthday is coming up so I decide to send her a text message and see what kind of birthday gift she wants this year.  I was out getting my haircut at the mall and was hoping she would reply quickly enough so I wouldn't have to make two trips.

Alas she doesn't text me back until the following day.  She tells me that she is planning on purchasing some new pairs of jeans and offers me two of her desired stores that I could get her a gift card from. 

I immediately think of my local Kroger store to purchase the gift cards, because they offer quadruple  points on all gift card purchases.  The next day I head over to Kroger and peruse their gift card kiosk, and quickly find one of the stores she messaged me.  I pick out a $50 one and then head over to the holiday/birthday card aisle.

It's amazing how sometimes I take a long time to find the right birthday card and other times I find it within the first or second one I look at.  This time I found the perfect card on the second one I picked up.  It said something about how as siblings growing up we didn't agree all the time on the front cover, and inside it said there is one thing we can agree on, she is getting old.  I know I am going to get it next year for my card.   

I head over to the self-checkout and proceed to complete my purchase.  I check my receipt and I received 200 fuel points for the $50 gift card.  After I get back to my car I head over to Kroger's gas station to immediately use up my fuel points.  I end up getting 40 cents off per gallon bringing the price down to $3.05. I really prefer using their gas pump as opposed to my local Exxon Mobil station even though I have the ExxonMobil credit card I haven't been using it that much.

I think this was the best way to purchase my sister's birthday present although next year I will do some more research to see if I can find a better deal than just getting fuel points, but at least I used the points and didn't let them go to waste.

Monday, March 4, 2013

My Hubpages Challenge

This month I am setting a goal of writing two new Hubs a week for Hubpages.  I have been a member of their website for well over 4 years, and in the beginning I was pretty gun-ho about writing and publishing articles through them.

After a few months though my enthusiasm died down after I saw how little traffic and revenue I was receiving to my Hubs, and I thought I had moved on. I am also a member of Squidoo a similar website with the same concept, and at the time I was getting much more traffic to that site and a little bit more revenue, but nothing that would blow anyone away. 

Over time though Hubpages really turned things around with quality control.  It seemed like 4 years ago you could write just about anything, and they would publish it that has since changed dramatically for better.  Now it is more difficult to get any substandard writing approved, and they have actual moderators that must approve any new material. A fair Hubpages review I found online.

The reason for my personal challenge is I have found that Hubpages is a good way to get Youtube views and people interested in your website.  Plus I still am making a couple dollars a month from the Hubs that I wrote all those years ago.  I know it isn't much money, but I like to look at this as an extremely long-tail venture.

For me their isn't much work involved in writing.  I can complete an article in 2 to 3 hours depending on how much research I need to do on the topic.  Most of the topics I write about are video games and personal finance related.  I will keep this updated and let you know if I complete my challenge!


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Took Car for It's Oil Change

It was time to get my 2008 Nissan Versa's oil changed again.  I'm told I should take it every three months, but that is not normally the case.  This time I waited a little bit longer than I should have.  I was due for an oil change back in December 2012, but I didn't go till this week.

I like to schedule my appointment a day or two ahead of time that way I have things planned out.  I called my local Grismer Tire shop and made an appointment for the following day in the afternoon.

I was very pleased with the service I've received at the East Dayton Yellow Springs Rd. Grismer Tire location.  I have used them for all my car repair and needs, and they have done a great job every time!  I was especially happy this time, because I used a $25 coupon I received in the mail and one of my four free oil changes for purchasing new tires through them.  I was able to get the premium oil change for only $12.98.  The normal price runs $55 and you get all your liquids drained and refilled, tires rotated, car checked for problems, and a new filter.

I only had to wait 40 minutes this time, which is great.  Normally it can take up to an hour to get my oil changed, but this time there wasn't any surprises that my car needed fixed so I was in and out pretty quickly.

I think it's kind of funny that a small local auto repair shop like Grismer that only has 22 locations offers a credit card.  I know both Goodyear and Firestone offer credit cards, but those are both national brands.  I surmise that Grismer must do enough business to constitute their own card.  Credit First National Association (CFNA) issues both the Firestone and the Grismer cards.

Next time I will probably go with the regular oil change, and I will make sure I don't wait too long in-between services, which is why I went with the premium to make sure my car is in good shape I want it to last a long time.  It hasn't had any major problems yet! (keeps fingers crossed)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Best Shopping Reward Sites

Listed below are the best shopping reward sites that I have found and participate in over the years.  Each one has it's own way of rewarding it's members for shopping through their portals some offer points for each dollar you spend while others give you a percent back of the total purchase price excluding shipping costs.

Cashcrate -is my favorite site to use.  It began as a paid for offers website, but has expanded to include shopping rewards.  They have a limited number of places you can receive a percent back from, but they payout the most of any site I have found.  Using Cashcrate will give you 3% cashback on purchases made at Wal-mart, 0.5-5% at Office Depot, 3-4% at Apple iTunes, and 2-3% at Microsoft Store.


MyPoints - is more of a coupon site, but they also have a section that lets you earn points for shopping.  You receive a set amount of points for each dollar spent.  They have all the major brands including; Kohl's, Best Buy, Disney, and many more.  Most of the time you will only get 2 points per dollar spent, but sometimes they run specials that gives you a boost in points earned. 

Swagbucks - started out as a way to win points for Internet searches.  It has slowly grown over the years and now incorporates points for shopping as well.  You can shop at all the name brand stores including; Wal-mart, Old Navy, Lowes, Macy's, and many more.  Swagbucks gives you 2 to 6 points per dollar spent.  You can redeem your points for gift cards or receive money through PayPal.  It takes 2,500 points for $25 deposited into your PayPal account. 

Those are my three favorite sites to use, but there are others with similar features.  Look around and find one that fits your shopping habits.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Earning Rewards for Online Shopping

Although I have previously stated I am not a huge fan of online shopping; I am a big fan of making extra money or getting rewards in my spare time.  This is especially true if there is little to no work involved or the rewards are a passive venture. 

This is probably why I like making websites so much.  Most of the work is done over a short period of time, and I gradually earn money or other types of compensation from them.

But making enough money to live off the Internet and getting a percent back for shopping at your favorite retailers are two completely different topics.  Sorry, I like to ramble sometimes... 

Back On-Topic

Not surprisingly being an Internet entrepreneur I know of several websites that offer members the option to receive a percent back or points for shopping through their website.  You don't need to worry about shady sites stealing your credit card information. You will still do all of your shopping through the same retailer there is just a couple of extra steps you need to take to earn rewards.

How It Works

  1. The first step is registering for a rewards site.  In my next post I will give a list of my favorite ones.  Some may require you to confirm your email address.
  2. Next you will need to login the site you joined and head over to their shopping section.  Here they will list the places you can get points or a percent back off the purchase price.  The percent back ranges from 0.05 to 5.0.  
  3. Click on the site you want to shop with.
  4. Pick out the items you wish to purchase and checkout normally.
  5. After you have completed your  purchase you should see how much you got within a few minutes, but sometimes it will take longer especially during the holidays there might be a delay.
If you don't receive credit for your purchase after a couple of days I would contact support of the rewards website.

Hopefully you have found this post helpful, and if you choose not to join in you at least know more about how it works. I feel like every little bit counts and using some of these sites helps me squeeze everything I can out of my shopping budget.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Shopping at Barnes and Noble

My mom's birthday is coming up so I text her and asked what kind of gift she wanted this year.  She promptly responded with a book that I haven't heard of before but apparently it is written by a local author that goes by the name of Sharon Short not to be confused with Sharon Stone who I thought it was at first when I read the name, but I took a double take and realized it was Short and not Stone.

Unfortunately I procrastinated and waited until the day before her birthday party to go shopping.  My daughter and I drove to our nearest Barnes and Noble.  At the store I realized I knew nothing about the book so before I walked over to customer service desk I whipped out my smart phone and visited their website.  I learned that I could save 30% if I had ordered the book online!  Even with the addition of standard shipping at $3.99 I would be ahead a couple dollars.  You can receive free shipping if you spend over $25 on your order to, which I ended up spending a total of $36 with batteries and a birthday card.



It seems like every store nowadays has a little area for gift bags and cards.  I am happy to say that Barnes and Noble has one as well.  It makes it easier since I like to give people a card with their gift, and I never really go shopping for just a card. 

After I find the book in the fiction section and pick out a birthday card I head over to the check out section.  We walk past a battery display and I pick up a pack of AAA and C that are needed to power a couple of toys the kids own.  When I arrive at the checkout counter I asked the cashier if they matched the online price.  She gave me a flat no, I then asked her if I selected the pickup option if they would then match the online price, again she answered with a no.  She told me the only way to get the online discounted price is to order it online.  A little disappointed I surrendered my items and paid the price. 

Hopefully I have learned my lesson for waiting to the last minute to buy someone a gift.  If I had looked earlier I could have said a couple of dollars off the book not to mention the gas I spent driving to the store and with these insane gas prices every little bit counts!