We Have a Winner!

With nearly 300 entries, the “PiggyBankBuidler Wednesday Giveaway” was a great success. As always I really enjoyed receiving your comments, follows, and likes. This contest is a great opportunity for us to extend our reach to new visitors. Thank you all.

And now for the announcement you have been waiting for. fridays gb 821The winner of our contest and the recipient of a $25 Fridays gift card is Neeharika from Lexington Kentucky. Congrats to her and better luck to all of you. Our next contest will launch this Wednesday and with it another opportunity to win.

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The PiggyBankBuilder Portfolio Challenge – February Results

Another month in the books and I am feeling pretty good. How did I do? Let’s look at my results:

  • Krogers (KR) – Purchase price – $63.53, number of shares 23. Current Price: $69.98 a gain of $148.35
  • Microsoft (MSFT) – Purchase price $46.76, number of 32. Current Price: $43.28, a loss of $111.36
  • iShares Silver Trust (SLV) – Purchase price $15.11, number of shares 99. Current Price: $15.57 a gain of $45.54
  • BlackBerry (BBRY) - Purchase price $10.82, number of shares 138, Current Price $10.96 a gain of $19.32

February saw a stock market recovery and the portfolio benefited nicely. 2015 stockIt is now up $101.85 or 2% ! A year back my portfolio was up only about 40 bucks, so this is a sizable improvement. 

Krogers continues to be a steady grower and BlackBerry just released a new crop of phones that look very impressive. Looking towards the next month its hard for me to say where things are going. The market is at all time highs and investors seem happy. That makes me a little nervous, the market has been going strong for over 6 years. Sooner or later things will change.

 

***Please not that I am not and investment advisor.Please consult your investment advisors before making any financial decisions that could result in loss.

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Free Pancake Day at IHOP!

For the last decade IHOP has been giving away FREE pancakes on “National Pancake Day” in an effort to pancakesraise money for “Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals” and other charities. Up to this point that have raised over 16 million dollars and aim to raise $3.5 million this year.

The idea is pretty simple, you walk into an IHOP and are given a free stack of pancakes, not a bad way to start a day. In return IHOP asks that you donate to a charity. You get free pancakes and needy people get a little help, win win win.

So celebrate National pancakes day with a free short stack and help some people who need it.

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Made in the U.S.A. Monday Zeroll Ice Cream Scoop -Purchase

When It comes to buying American I try to lead by example, I like to put my money where my mouth is. Many of my articles are about products that I already own, others are a about items I plan to or hope to buy. A few days after writing about the Zeroll 1030 ice cream scoop I received one of my very own.

ScoopsI have used it twice and have been very impressed. The 1030 feels good in the hand and it makes digging out a few scoops of ice cream very easy. The scoops from the 1030 are perfectly round and small. The 1030 is a 1 ounce scoop model, which is exactly what I wanted. For those of you that prefer “normal sized” scoops I recommend the 1020 or the 1012. I may purchase one of those model for parties, but for now the 1030 works just fine.

The quality in the build of my Zeroll scoop is evident from the moment you open the box. The smooth aluminum handle has a clean look and the scoop portion of the scoop has machined texture. I have no fear of peeling coatings or rust because the design of this scoop is top notch. My food is safe with this Zeroll scoop and with the right care it will last me a lifetime. At $15 I can’t recommend it enough. Summer is right around the corner, buy one now.

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Eat24, Delivery Just Got Even Easier

Sometimes you just want to dine in, especially when its 2 degrees outside. You order delivery from your favorite place, but inevitably something goes awry. Your drinks are wrong or not there all together, the driver says they no longer honor your coupon, you get the bill and wonder “does a driver fee go to the driver or should I tip?” Who needs such aggravation?  The entire process would benefit immensely from some computerized simplicity.

Enter “Eat24″ a dining delivery site for the smartphone ages. eat24Affiliated with the popular dining review site “Yelp”, EAT24 streamlines the delivery/ take out ordering process with magnificence efficiency. If you are an undecided shopper looking for some tasty ideas “Eat24″ has you covered with tons of options. If you have a favorite place that you always go to, chances are they can take care of that as well. Once you select the eating establishment you are interested in you can search through an online menu and select your meal.

Eat24 totals up the order and you can pay for it via credit card. The site handles the transaction all the restaurant has to do is prepare the food for pick up or delivery. “Eat24″ will alos save this order for future use, thus reducing your next visit to a few mere clicks. Last week the Bride wanted our favorite pizza, I logged into “Eat24″ and ordered our favorite pie before she even got to the room to ask me to order.

As a bargain hunter I am a big fan of Eat24’s weekly weekend coupon codes that I receive in my e-mail. They vary greatly, but on a handful of occasions the discount was so good that it was actually cheaper for me to order a delivery using Eat24 than it would have been for me to go and pick it up at the place. You can’t beat that.

So if you haven’t tried it, I recommend that you check out Eat24. Save yourself some time.

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Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Zeroll Ice Cream Scoops

I love ice cream, I know I am not unique in this regard. The Bride and I experiment with brands and flavors with our tastes changing over time. I am currently partial to the “Three Twins Vanilla”. We usually keep a pint or two in the freezer and our ice cream scoops sees a fair amount of action, but lately I have been alarmed by its appearance. Our ice cream scoop is corroding and this has me a little concerned. Am I contaminating my food? Where did this scoop come from? The answer to both questions is “I don’t know” and that won’t do.

I need a new scoop and I want it to be safe and made with quality in mind. scoopFor the last 70+ years the Zeroll company has been at the top of the ice cream scooping game. Next time you visit you local ice cream shop take a look at the scoops, they are probably using a Zeroll design.

Zeroll scoops are made out of aluminum and have a fluid inside that conducts heat from your hand to the ice cream. Their scoops are know for making perfectly round professional looking scoops. Each handle has a color that indicates scoop size. The most common is the 2 ounce gold model.  The Bride and I opted for the Red or 1 ounce model. The thinking is to have more smaller scoops as a form of portion control.

The 1030 model that we bought is selling on Amazon for $14.91, this includes shipping. The price of these scoops varies greatly so do your research to find the best deal. Please keep in mind that with the right care a Zeroll scoop can last a lifetime, value through longevity. 

Summer will be here before you know it, grab an American made icon for your next party or gathering, buy a Zeroll.

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Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Naturepedic Organic Cotton Crib Matress

I think most people have gained a new appreciation for what the things they own are made of.  We typically view our skin as a protective barrier, but it can also absorb toxins with increased amounts of exposure. As a soon to be parents, my wife and I are trying to be extra vigilant about the things our newborn child will come into contact with.

Low VOC paint for the nursery, a wool area rug, toys made out of safe plastics, a safe crib, and in that crib a safe organic mattress. It may seem trivial, but if you really think about it you touch your mattress more then anything else that you own. Clothes are on you all day, but you change them one day to the next. The mattress and what’s in it is more important than many of us realize.

With this in mind I have spent a considerable amount of time trying to select the safest and best mattress. mattressMy search brought me to Naturepedic and their “No compromise organic cotton classic lightweight crib mattress”.  This little mattress ticks all the boxes for me, first off it waterproof, super important. Its also certified organic and meets Greenguard’s chemical omission elimination standards. 

In Naturpedic I have found an American made mattress that is chemical and allergen free and safe for my child. The reviews on Amazon are very strong, 4 out of 5 stars. I have read  all of them and it seems that in the cases where the parents raised an issue with the mattress Naturepedic was quick to resolve the issue. Good support is very important to me.

At $259.00 I feel that this mattress is well priced, more expensive then most non-organic mattresses, but we feel that the piece of mind it brings is worth the extra cost. I should have the nursery up in a few weeks and will report back to you with my preliminary findings.

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Freewheel Your Way to Savings

In the last decade nothing has changed more than the cell phone bill. Cell phone carriers used to charge by the minute. Then you could buy blocks of minutes. With the growth of smart phones, texting and data came into play.  Now it appears that we are in an all out price war.

Sprint has been heavily promoting their “Cut Your Bill in Half”plan. If you bring them your Verizon or AT&T bill they will sign you up for a Sprint Plan with unlimited text and talk for 1/2 the price. They also agree to waive the activation fee and buy out your old contract. This is music to a deal lovers ears.

All of that is great, I love seeing prices come down, but I want to share something pretty revolutionary. A move away from cellular networks and onto Wifi. Dump your voice, data, and text plans and save hundred of dollars a year. I’ve heard about companies trying such a move, but until recently I never saw the idea implemented.

A few days ago Cablevision launched their “Freewheel” service. Freewheel PhoneFor $9.95 a month Optimum subscribers can get smart phone service for a fraction of the price. This service includes unlimited talk, text, and data and requires no contract. They only offer one phone with this, The Motorola Moto G. It certainly isn’t on the cutting edge of cellular tech, but it seem like a competent day to day handset.

Is there a catch? Yes and No, its so cheap because its a Wifi phone. Most phones use Wifi whenever possible and the cellular network as a back up. With Freewheel you won’t have that, no Wifi, no service. It could be a problem depending on your location.

On the other hand, do you have Wifi at home? Do you have Wifi at work? I do, so most of the day I am connected. Most businesses offer free Wifi and more hotspots come online everyday.

Who is this best for? As I see it two types of people, those who don’t use their phone very often and kids. If you have three kids and they all have smart phones the bill can be up to hundreds of dollars a month. Freewheel offers you the ability to drop that down to $30 a month.

For example let’s say you monthly phone will is $200 for your three kids. You drop that and switch the Freewheel for $30. You save $170 a month or $2040 a year! That’s a short vacation or a giant TV, every year. All because you made one switch. The only other financial consideration is the $99 dollars for the phone.

Now I haven’t tried the phone yet, but I will keep an eye out and share any experiences that I have. If you are looking to shrink your phone bill you might want to consider Freewheel.

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Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Evenflo Car Seats

The bride and I will be having our first child in less than two months. It is an exciting and busy time filled with learning and new experiences. One of the first things we have learned is that we know nothing about baby stuff. I know what a crib is but I couldn’t tell you which one is a good one or a safe one. The last two weeks I have jumped in and tried to learn as much as possible so that I can provide the very best for my future child.

Of course the very best should include “America Made”, but unfortunately such items have been hard to find in the infant space. All of the “made in the USA” cribs are essentially hand made. This makes them very safe and very beautiful, but it also makes them very expensive. We can’t afford a $1200 crib. In the stroller department I honest couldn’t find one made here.

It took some digging but I found a great American company that makes some terrific baby products right here in the USA. Here is a video of their workers and their factory.

Evenflo has been in business since the 1920’s and as they near their centennial anniversary they continue pump out quality children’s products are know for their safety and reliability. The above video is only a few minutes long but it gives you a deep understanding of what American made is all about, good hard working people like you or I trying to create the best products possible.

Just look at the reviews on Amazon for their “Tribute LX Convertible car seat”.  Over 1000 customers have weighed in and this car seat has an almost perfect score. evenfloThe “Evenflow Tribute LX”car seat exceeds most of the federal safety and crash test requirements, in some cases by a factor of two. No wonder it is the number one selling car seat on Amazon.

It comes in a wide variety of colors and at $59.99 it is priced far below its Chinese made counterparts. A superior American made product at a better price. What’s better than that?

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The Three TV Finalists

My never ending saga to buy a new TV has yet to reach a conclusion. From the early trickery that almost fooled me into making a very big mistake, to the Super Bowl sales that failed to impress I have been waiting and waiting for the right price to make my move. In hindsight I probably should have bought on “Cyber Monday”. Oh well, live and learn. I fully expect or at least I truly hope that “President’s Day” will be my moment in the discount sales sun.

With that in mind here are the criteria for my three finalists in the decision for my next TV. They are all around 55 inches, I choose that size for two reasons. First is cost, that is the biggest size for my budget and secondly its bigger than the 40 inch I currently own. I find that men always want a TV one size bigger than the one they own. I’m buying a 55inch but the 65inches in the store looks so nice. Even if I had a 100 inch TV I would still probably turn to my wife and say “Not getting the 110 inch TV was a mistake.”

They are all 4K. I’ve been getting a lot of flack from friends about this, that no one really makes 4K content so why buy the TV. First off Amazon and Netflix offer content and a blu ray player that plays in 4K is in the works. Secondly, its ready for the future, so while it might not make sense now if will in 2 years and more so in five years.

They are all 3D. Again a lot of people seem puzzled by this. They argue that it is a frivolous gimmick. I will meet them half way on this, most 3D is nonsense, but Jurassic Park and Titanic are not. If you haven’t watched these films in 3D I encourage you to do so, amazing.

With the a fore mentioned parameters in place here are my three finalists.

  • The LG 55UB8500 55 inch 4K 3D Smart LED TV – This is my third place finisher, but that doesn’t really do it justice. LGThe reviews on Amazon are fantastic. According to professional reviews this TV has some of the best 3D viewing of any TV around. It also uses the WEB Os browser which has a clean simple layout that is innovative and intuitive. The smart remote  feels good in the hand and is easy to use. While I am not crazy about the stand I do like the thin bezle edge of the screen. My two concerns with this TV are black levels and support, some customers have complained that when they do run into trouble the LG customer support is weak. The current price is about $1600, if it falls to $1100 I will probably pull the trigger.
  • The Sony XBR55X850B 4K 3D Smart LED TV – The silver medalist, this TV was on sale in the Sony store for $1400 with a $400 in store credit the week before Christmas. sonyI was so close to moving on it, but I don’t like making snap decisions about such a large purchase, my loss. On the positive side, it’s a Sony. They have a well earned reputation for making quality products and this is no exception. The look of the set exudes style, the stand is simple and minimal. The color quality is very good, but to me, when I watched it in the show room the black levels seemed a bit off. I will need some more hands on interaction with it to make a final judgement.
  • The Samsung UN55HU8550 4K 3D Smart LED TV – The elusive champion, the TV I have been watching like a hawk for 3 months now. Before the holidays it was selling for $1500, then it dropped to $1400, then up to $2000 after Christmas, then down to $1600, 8550and as of now it sits at $1700. Can Presidents day get it back to $1400? I hope so because this TV is a dynamo. It is the number one ranked TV on Consumer Reports and CNET. It has a beautiful image, amazing smart capabilities, one of the best remotes in electronics, and a ton of connectivity options. My wife bought me a 4k up converting 3D bluray player, also a a Samsung, for Christmas and it just sits in the corner waiting for its mate. A sad tale to be sure.

This is a very fluid situation that I watch daily, sometimes hourly. I will share the developments as they unfold and report back to you with a review of the eventual winner.

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