Crackerjack Greenback Prudent Advice for a Prosperous Future

November 24, 2008

A Meaningful Christmas

Filed under: Consumerism,Contentment,Frugality,Giving,Saving Money,Spending,Values — Paul Williams @ Crackerjack Greenback @ 4:00 am

       What if Christmas meant more than shopping in packed malls?

       What if you spent more time with your family than you spent trying to pick out gifts?

       What if you could wake up on December 26th with no debts from the day before?

       What if you could throw out all the stress, traffic, and shopping and just focus on worshiping Jesus, giving to the needy, and loving all people?

       What if we gave up Consumermas and went back to Christmas?

       The folks at Advent Conspiracy have a great little video (2 minutes and 39 seconds) about a meaningful Christmas.

       So why not make Christmas meaningful again? Why not do it this year? If you want to change how you celebrate Christmas, here are some good resources:

              Buy Nothing Christmas
              Alternative Christmas Gifts
              A Do-It-Yourself Christmas

       Finally, here’s “O, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” as sung by the David Crowder Band. I hope it reminds us why we’re celebrating Christmas in the first place.

November 10, 2008

New Cars or Retirement?

Filed under: Consumerism,Contentment,Frugality,Retirement Planning,Saving Money,Spending,The Basics,Values — Paul Williams @ Crackerjack Greenback @ 4:00 am

       Bob at Christian Personal Finance has a great post about how cars affect your financial freedom. Definitely check out his post. He estimates that eliminating a $400/month car payment could mean $1,000,000 more by the time you retire. Even a $200/month payment could mean an additional $600,000 over 40 years. Granted that’s not adjusted for inflation, but it could easily mean the difference between retiring and having to work a few more years for many people. It’s just another great reason you shouldn’t buy into consumerism. There’s nothing wrong with buying a used car, and it could save you a lot of money in the long run.

New Car

OR

One Million Dollars

?

Your Choice!

       Be sure to check out this week’s Carnival of Personal Finance hosted at The Digerati Life! It’s a very interesting theme this week!

November 3, 2008

Double Your Money with This Investment

Filed under: Frugality,Gardening,Saving Money — Paul Williams @ Crackerjack Greenback @ 1:45 pm

       In a time of economic uncertainty (or any time for that matter), it would be nice to find an investment where you can double your money. What if I told you this investment also has extra side benefits of making you healthier and fitter? Ready to sign up?

Start Digging

Vegetable Garden by Southern Foodways Alliance on Flickr       The investment I’m talking about is a garden. The home garden has lost its popularity since the Victory Gardens in World Wars I and II, but with increasing food prices we’re seeing a new-found appreciation for the humble home garden. Growing your own food gives you a sense of accomplishment, gets you outside and off the couch, provides you with fresh and healthy food, and can save you a good chunk of money all at the same time.

So How Can a Garden Double My Money?

       J.D. Roth at Get Rich Slowly has been tracking all of his and his wife’s work, expenses, and produce in their garden since the beginning of this year. You can read the background of this project and find all of his monthly gardening updates here.

       In his October update, J.D. realized he and his wife have roughly doubled their financial investment in their garden this year. J.D. even admits they haven’t been conducting this as a formal experiment to see just how much they could save by having a garden. He and his wife have been hobby gardening for quite some time and have their own (admittedly non-frugal) ways of doing things. If you set out to have a frugal garden, I would venture to say you could easily triple your financial investment.

Start Small

Square Foot Garden Bed by mlwhitt on Flickr       If you’ve never gardened before, I highly recommend you start small. This past year I started my own small garden using Square Foot Gardening techniques as taught by Mel Bartholomew. You can find out more on the Square Foot Gardening website or by borrowing the Square Foot Gardening book from your local library. I had a lot of fun with this project, and it was fairly easy. The hardest part was setting up my boxes, but I had the benefit of very few weeds all summer long.

       You can get a good amount of produce (for 1 person) with as little space as 4′ x 8′. If you don’t have much space at all (apartment-dwellers), then you can look into container gardening. Trust me, you’ll enjoy your efforts when you’re pulling off fresh tomatoes in the summer!

       Now is a great time to start reading up and planning for next spring. You can find plenty of free information online and at your library. So dig in and get ready to double or triple your money!

November 1, 2008

Save Money on Your Computer with Free or Open Source Software

Filed under: Frugality,Saving Money — Paul Williams @ Crackerjack Greenback @ 11:47 am

       In the not too distant past, we didn’t have many viable alternatives to Microsoft’s operating system, office software, web browser, or e-mail client. Sure there were alternatives out there, but when most of Microsoft’s software comes pre-installed on PCs the majority of people end up using the Microsoft choices. Many people still aren’t aware that there are free, high-quality alternatives available.

The Open Source Initiative (TM)       So today is all about how you can save money by using free or Open Source software instead of the standard Microsoft or other proprietary applications you have always used. There are even alternatives to Adobe’s Photoshop, Acrobat Reader, and much more. If you’re not sure what Open Source means, you can check out The Open Source Initiative’s definition by clicking on their logo to the left.

       What follows is a very short list of some of the best free or Open Source software available today. I’ll also list a few websites you can visit to find even more free or Open Source software at the end.

Internet Browsing

Firefox       I use Firefox at home and work for all of my Internet browsing. The fact that it has been safer to use than Internet Explorer for a long time is one good reason you should be using it too. Additionally, there are a ton of “add-ons” available to enhance your user experience. For example, I use Adblock Plus to block all advertisements while I’m surfing. I’ve always found them annoying, but it also lets me browse faster since I don’t have to wait for the ads to load. You can download Firefox by clicking the logo on the left, and you can find tons of add-ons by clicking here.

Email

Thunderbird
       Thunderbird is a very good alternative to Microsoft Outlook. Thunderbird lets you access your email in a whole new way while keeping all of your information safe and secure. It also lets you customize the way you view and use your email, so you can have it just the way you like it. Click the logo to download.

Office Software

OpenOffice.org       OpenOffice.org is a very good alternative to the Microsoft Office Suite. You’ll get software for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases, and more. It might take you a little while to learn it, but overall it’s a fairly similar layout to Microsoft Office’s software. (I mean, how creative can you get with a word processor?) Click the logo to download.

Operating System

Linux       If you’ve ever had to purchase a copy of the Windows operating system, you may have wondered why you spent so much money when you’re staring at the famous Blue Screen of Death. Well, there are free, open source alternatives available! The alternatives are all a variation on Linux which is similar to Unix. You used to need to know a lot about computers to be able to install a Linux distribution (that’s what they call the different alternatives), but there are many user friendly options available today. Click on the logo to go to a quiz by zegenie studios to help you determine which Linux distribution is right for you. (They even ask you about your computer expertise!)

Get It All at Once (sans Operating System)

Winlibre       Want to download all of the best free or Open Source software in one shot? Try out WinLibre (click the logo to go to their website). For Mac users, there’s also Maclibre. You don’t get all the free software in the world, but you’ll get the essentials (OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, theGimp, Inkscape, and more). You won’t find an operating system bundled in though (that’s a major download in and of itself).

Even More

       And if all of that wasn’t enough, you can find even more free or Open Source software at these links:

Open Source Alternative

Wikipedia

Mohawke’s Best of the Best Free and Open Source Software Collection

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