Frugal Living, Personal Finance 

Low Cost Weekend Ideas: Visit Local Wineries

I’m starting a new series here and it’s called Low Cost Weekend Ideas. I plan on trying to highlight some cheap fun things to do on weekends that are relatively low-cost but loads of fun. Now, chances are you might not be able to take advantage of some of these ideas depending on where you live, but maybe it’ll spark an idea (that I invite you to share) for what to do the next time Friday rolls around.

Everyone knows about the California wineries, the famed Napa Valley, but there are tons of local wineries up and down the east coast as well. In fact, there are so many that Mr. Carlo De Vito has penned a book titled East Coast Wineries (blogger too!) that my friends in New York swear by.

So what’s fun about going to a winery? If you’ve never been, you’re missing out. All wineries will have a tasting room in which for a few bucks will permit you to sample a whole slew of their wines. In fact, in some places you can try all of their wines and they won’t even collect a single cent. A lot of these wineries have a very hometown friendly feel to them and many times the person pouring the wines will be the owners themselves. Sometimes, if the winery is big enough, they’ll have a dining room with some live music as well.

A few weekends ago, in a weekend trip up to visit from friends in New York, we visited a few wineries over the course of three or four hours. Now, I’m not a wine and cheese type of guy, I’m more like a six pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon (Natty Light actually but I do enjoy PBR) guy but the four of us popped a bottle of wine and shared some mini-pizza’s, a cheese plate, and some mozzarella & tomato sandwiches to the sound of two guys strumming away on their guitars. Granted, that wasn’t a low cost idea but visiting a winery, enjoying the sights of the countryside, and sampling some wines isn’t a bad way to kill a few hours on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Just remember… don’t drink and drive.

More Low Cost Weekend Ideas

(Photo: armykat1014)

 Personal Finance 
comments Passing a Hat is ad-free and a great resource, if you haven’t had a chance to check it out please do so, that isn’t free to keep up and running. In fact, I would imagine that it chews up quite a bit of bandwidth going out and pulling all those feeds and republishing them so the costs could be quite formidable. Regardless, they are passing the hat around and trying to raise a little extra cash to keep the operation humming along and if you enjoy using the resource please consider dropping a buck or two into the hat.


ING Direct To Return to 3.80%

As an affiliate, ING Direct sends me periodic emails regarding the promotions they’ll be running and with the winding down of their 4.75% Winter Save Up event they’ve notified us that they’ll be returning to the pre-promotion rate of 3.80%. So my prediction that ING would lower to around 4.25% to remain competitive was too ambitious.

Update: It appears that the new rate will be 4.0% and not 3.8%. My apologies for the mistake, perhaps their affiliate program needs a little work… today they sent me another email that said the Orange Savings Account would go to 4.0%.

If you’re looking to get a quick $25, hit up this $25 ING referral page. You’ll get $25 for depositing $250 and they get $10.


Student Loan Debt Is An Investment!

I’ve heard many people lament over how much they owe in student loan debt but very few have considered it an “investment,” as they should. According to a, the difference between a B.S. and a high school graduate (or GED) is $17,000 a year (from a 2003 article, but the differences are probably the same order of magnitude). If you have $100,000 in debt, that means that you’re getting a 17% ROI on your college education, I’ll take that any day.

Also, remember that student loan interest is tax deductible (depending on how much you earn, it starts phasing out after $50k AGI) and the interest rates are probably relatively low, so you’re getting a pretty sweet deal if you think about it!

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Trade With Your Head, Not Your Heart

By heart I mean emotions. I personally think you should invest in companies whose goals you believe in… with respect to that, you should trade with your heart.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the markets these last two days, perk up, it’s a perfect example of how you should invest with your head and not with your heart. Yesterday, the Fed bumped up interest rates another quarter point, as expected, and gave guidance that suggested further rate hikes were in our future. What was supposed to be routine, suddenly went sour. According to Google Finance’s historical records, at 2:16pm, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 11,267.08. (the meeting is at 2pm) By 2:32pm, it was at 11,193.04, or a loss of 74.04 in sixteen minutes. The Dow closed at 11,156.86 – a drop of 110.22 from the 2:16pm value.

None of the fundamentals concerning the companies in the Dow changed. The prospects of our economy didn’t really change either, still humming along even with the Fed fiddling with rates to control inflation. There wasn’t a real obvious reason for the fall other than a gut-reaction by the markets that, if you looked today, were a little excessive. As of this writing, the Dow is up 77.28 to 11,228.42 which is about where it opened yesterday. Kirk has declared the market in full lift-off mode and that those who sold yesterday found themselves on the business end of Mr. Market this morning.

The moral of this story? Don’t trade with your heart. Don’t buy into the hype and don’t sell on your fears. Keep your head screwed on straight and let the numbers do the talking.

 Investing, Retirement 

Vanguard Deposit Recoding Sample Letter

I made a mistake in my contribution to my SEP-IRA two days when I deposited the maximum as an employer and then an additional $600 as an employee. When you deposit as an employee, it’s treated as a deposit to a Traditional IRA and thus subject to the $4,000 cap. No big deal except that cap is for the aggregate of your Traditional and Roth IRA contributions, I already deposited the full four thousand into my Roth IRA so I was over the contribution limit. This is a big no-no.

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 Frugal Living, Investing, Personal Finance 

Festivals and Carnivals

Okay, so this may be fifteenth or sixteenth place you’ll see a collection of links to these carnivals and you might be wonder… why is jim linking to them after everyone else has already done it? The reason is that it takes a lot of time and effort to put each of these things together, the Festival of Frugality had twenty-seven entries and the Carnival of Personal finance had nearly fifty entries, and in the blogging world the only thanks we can give of substance is a link and this is my way, in blogger-geek-speak, of thanking them. If you have a blog and you’ve put in an entry, it would be best if you linked to the host to let them know you appreciate their hard work. (I, of course, have been guilty of not doing so, but I’m working on getting better at it)


Ever use

I’m an affiliate of and they often send me huge percentage off coupon codes that I can offer on the side of the site. The problem is, even with the latest 60% off coupon 87539, I can never find a restaurant I recognize on the list of possibilities. I see a local bar but the minimum purchase requirement is $35 non-alcoholic purchases to use a $25 coupon! Who has $35 in non-alcoholic purchases at a bar?

I wish I could find a restaurant on here I would otherwise go to because these things can save you big bucks. Anyone use these?

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