Cut Your Budget: Shave Like an Old Man

Disclaimer: This post has some affiliate links! 

Keeping up with decent male hygiene is a hassle, and not a cheap one. The problem with shaving, hair cuts and keeping down body stank is that sinking more money does not necessarily result in better hygiene.

To this end, I’ve put a lot of thought into how to get a better result out of my shaving regimen over the years.

“New-Fangled” Shavers

I started shaving with a Gillette Mach 3 back in high school.

Back in 2006 there was far less selection/competition in the shaving razor industry. Back in those days it was some 5-bladed monstrosity or a terrible, disposable blade which lasted about 0.1 shaves. Either way you were paying a fortune for a smooth face. I took the middle road by getting the 3-blade pseudo-monstrosity.

I was shaving with those and consequently hemorrhaging money for six long years. Then I read the How to Shave Like Your Grandpa post and got very interested in true wet shaving.

Wet Shaving: A Better Way

Wet shaving remained a curiosity for quite some time, but I never acted on the impulse.

I like to go to garage sales, even though I hardly have any space for anything. It’s more fun just to see what’s out there and be out in the nice weather.  I found an old American Safety Razor single-edge safety razor  for $ 1 at a garage sale in 2013, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

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One Dollar Garage Sale Safety Razor!

There is definitely a learning curve associated with switching from the shave cartridges. With cartridges you basically drag the thing across your face willy-nilly. You don’t really have to worry about angles, pressure and technique.

Conversely, wet shaving requires almost no applied pressure, so if you treat it like a Mach 3 your going to look like you got in a fight with a cat.

That being said, if you follow the advice in the link above, you can avoid all that.

Wait That Sounds Awful, I’ll Keep My Mach 3, Thanks

Woah there, Sparky. You didn’t let me finish. It’s a lot more than a more difficult procedure! If that were the case I wouldn’t be talking about it. The benefits of wet-shaving are 3-fold,

  1. Cheapest shave out there
  2. Best shave possible
  3. Makes you feel like a bad*ss!

The razors for wet-shaving using a shaver like the American Safety Razor one I show above are ~ 4 times cheaper than comparable Gillette razors (more on that later). This actually leads into point 2 from the list above. Because the blades are so cheap, you can replace them more frequently, so you’re using fresh blades for more shaves. This leads to much higher quality shaving, not to mention the fine-tuning you can make to pressure and angle, when you get good at it.

The final, probably biggest point for me, is that it actually feels cool to shave using this! It’s hard to explain, but shaving used to be something I wanted to end as soon as possible. It was a chore, nothing else. Now it’s something I take pride in doing right, methodically. When it’s done, it so much more satisfying and…different than it did using crappy razors.

Tools of the Trade

All that’s left then is to ditch your canned shaving cream and get a proper shaving brush with shaving soap. This is part of what makes it cheap and effective, because the shaving soap will last a LONG time when used properly. This saves you even more money! Plus, it just feels great to use a brush instead of the gelatinous, trying-too-hard-to-be-hyper-masculine canned shave creams.

I currently use this badger hair brush and this shaving soap, which I’ve been very happy with so far. If you can wait, I’d totally recommend getting the actual razor holder from Ebay or a garage sale or something, but you can totally get them on Amazon if you want. The used option will tend to be a lot cheaper though!

Final note, definitely go with stainless steel blades if you try this. While scraper blades from the hardware store look similar, they are not NEARLY as sharp as actual shaving blades, for one thing. Also, non-stainless blades will rust between uses and only get you half as many shaves per blade as a result. So basically stay away from CVS-brand safety razors. Instead, check out the Persona Gem safety razors. They end up costing about $0.50 each, and each lasts about 3-4 shaves. Compare that to the Mach 3, which costs about 4 times that.

Let me know if you give it a shot! Is there anything stopping you from making the plunge?

$40 a Week – Meal Plan for 2! Week 7

Meal Plan Week 7

We didn’t post last week, I know. It got a little crazy around here. I was out of town for the weekend and then we spent Wednesday – Sunday of out of town on a business/short vacation. There weren’t a lot of meals to plan! So we are just going to call this week “Week 7”. Apologies! Happy to be b

In Review

I’m going to review two weeks ago mainly just to say that this Thai Peanut Chicken recipe is AMAZING! I would eat it all of the time! It says low carb on it, but that’s kind of the nature of a meal that is basically chicken and veggies.

Aaron ate it with rice – no longer low carb – and loved it too!

It’s going back into this weeks meal plan and I cannot wait!

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Tasty Peanut Chicken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share with us some of your go to recipes in the comments below!

Going Forward

This week is also going to be a little crazy. I’m out of town for work the first couple of days and we will be gone much of the weekend for Mother’s Day festivities with both of our families.

Most of the food on our plan we have in the cupboard, fridge, and freezer. Bonus – this is a big savings! Which we can definitely use after our mini-vacation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 7 Meal Planning Sheet

This weeks Recipes

Inside-Out Scotch Eggs

Thai Peanut Chicken

Fried Rice Recipe

Grocery List Week 7

1.5 lb. Chicken thigh
Broccoli
Coconut oil

Check out our other Weekly Meal Plans!
We will see you all next week!
Let us know your meal planning and grocery budgeting tips and trick in the comments
– A + L

Keepass: Take Control of Your Online Security

Disclaimer: No one is paying me to talk about this. I love Keepass and I want others to love it, too! It is and always will be entirely free. 

Identity theft is a scary thing to consider, and definitely becomes more daunting with added complexity to your financial life.  Identity theft can quickly wreck a stellar credit score and at best delay financial decisions and cause hassle. At worst, you can lose hard-earned money!

Most cases of identity theft are very preventable. What constitutes “Hacking” is almost always something as unromantic as “Someone guessed your password correctly that wasn’t you.”

The damage from other, less preventable cases like big data breaches from a single website (think Yahoo) can be minimized by doing the same thing to limit ID theft chances. That is, changing passwords regularly and using unique, strong passwords.

Password Managers

It was easy to remember two unique passwords for my one bank and one email account when I had maybe $200 to my name. Recently, however, I clocked in over 50 accounts with associated passwords and usernames!

At first I just used a password vault app on my smartphone. That doesn’t alleviate the issue of coming up with new passwords. I have to update an email password every six months at my work, and I would dread coming up with a decent new password to the specifications.

To take the stress out of figuring out new passwords, I decided to try out a free, open-source password manager called Keepass.

My thought being: If I didn’t like a free password manager, I probably should not shell out for a paid service.

Keepass

After installing Keepass from here (I downloaded version 2.35 on the right), you start by creating a database file.

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Step 1: Pick somewhere to put your database file

A database (.kdbx) is an encrypted file which keeps your actual passwords, including things like notes and user names.

You can save your database to Dropbox or another cloud service if you want to sync passwords across devices.  There is even a Keepass app for Android which I use frequently.

You can now assign a master password to the database.

The master password will be the only one you have to remember. All others can be stored in the encrypted database file.

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Step 2: Set a master password

Now all you have to do is have Keepass generate some killer passwords for you and use them for all your accounts!

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Step 3: Change your passwords!

Now, whenever you need to access an account, you only have to enter the master password to enter the database. Everything else is copy/paste from the interface!

You can even change the password generator to give shorter passwords, or ones with specific special characters. That way you can cater it to whatever the requirements may be for the website.

Why Keepass?

I selected Keepass for several reasons.

1) Keepass is open-source and compact (only a few Mb), so I can easily fit it on my phone or any of my computers, and doesn’t fill up my free Dropbox account.

2) It’s free, what’s not to love?

3) Keepass is a standalone program, so I can control all aspects and feel comfortable with what it can and can’t do. For instance, I actually feel better that it cannot automatically change passwords like some paid services (Dashlane, Lastpass, e.g.). I’d rather my password manager simply help me come up with passwords and keep them safe, and for that, Keepass is perfect.

Now, I’m in the process of changing all my passwords over to Keepass-managed passwords, which also addresses another issue with some of my older passwords, especially. So far I’m loving it! Entering in the single password is so much less stressful! Actually having unique passwords makes me feel much more secure as well!

Are you still not convinced a password manager is for you? Do you have a favorite password manager? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

$40 a Week – Meal Plan for 2! Week 6

Meal Plan Week 6

In Review

My favorite meal from this last week was definitely the Coconut Chicken Thai Curry. It was packed with tasty onions, zuchinni, and peppers. With rice, the curry has lasted through to the present week, and it’s easy to scale up for extra leftovers!

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Coconut Chicken Thai Curry
Going Forward

We’re trying a slight pivot in our weekly meal planning focus. Lauren has inadvertently relented to her future mother-in-law’s keto diet fascination. We’ll need to figure out if this is sustainable with our current budget, so stay tuned!

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Week 6 Meal Plan

Week 6 Meal Planning Sheet

This weeks Recipes

Inside-Out Scotch Eggs

Pulled Pork

Coleslaw

Chicken Salad

Thai Peanut Chicken

Grocery List Week 6

1 Dozen Eggs
1 lb. Breakfast sausage
4 – 5 lb. Pork butt/sholder
Chicken breast
1.5 lb. Chicken thigh
Salmon
Bacon?
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Mayo
Hummus
Pita chips
Bell peppers
Cheese (sandwich)
Deli meat (sandwich)
Coconut oil

Since we (read Lauren) are starting a new type of eating, we weren’t sure how much it was going to cost. We went over budget by almost $20 (yikes!). However, we bought a couple of things that weren’t on our list or that we won’t need for this week’s recipes – bacon and chorizo – as well as some staples – jelly, mayo, and coconut oil.

Also, we forgot that my mom had given us 6 loaves of bread and bought one for the week. Oops! We will know better next time!

Total Spending this week: $58.99

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Grocery Haul-Week 6

Receipt Close-up

Check out our other Weekly Meal Plans!
We will see you all next week!
Let us know your meal planning and grocery budgeting tips and trick in the comments
– A + L

Aldi: What Have You Got to Save?

Disclaimer: Aldi does not sponsor this content, but this will not stop me from proclaiming my love for them from every mountain-top.

L and I love Aldi. Like a lot. For the last year or so we’ve almost exclusively gotten our groceries at Aldi. At first, we started going just due to the convenience factor. It was the easiest grocery store to get to from L’s work, so that’s where we decided to go.

There is no lack of grocery stores in our area. Cub foods, Whole Foods and Lunds are all practically within walking distance. We sometimes end up going to these other stores, but this weekend I got to thinking about what really sets them apart.

The Aldi Effect

Sunday. We’re out of meat. We spent the whole day working on projects, cleaning and blogging, so we’re itching for some food around 3 pm. We have so many leftover veggies from last week, a stir-fry sounds like just the ticket to use it all up.

It’s a beautiful, Spring day in Minneapolis, so we walk down to Lunds to pick up some kind of meat to go in the stir fry. That’s when the ‘normal’ price of chicken hit me square in the face. The sticker shock was too much. I couldn’t, in good conscience, lay down six George Washingtons, when the same amount would get me twice the chicken at Aldi.

But this got me thinking. I know Aldi is usually cheaper than Lunds, but does that extend over all the most common things we buy?

The Comparison

Short answer: Yes.  Buying the items we bought on Week 1 of our $40 weekly budget resulted $47.80 at Lunds (budget busted) vs. $28.26 at Aldi! That’s a savings of %40!

The only item which Lunds came out ahead on was vegetable stock, which Aldi listed for ~ 30% more.

A few details, I did not consider tax on either price list. Also, I could not find a suitable comparison for Aldi’s frozen salmon, so I left that out of the study.

The only thing I’d add before you go too crazy (like me) about Aldi, is that part of the savings comes at the cost of selection. For example, the variety of meats and organic offerings is much greater at Lunds. However, if you’re OK with this weakness and plan around it, Aldi can help you dominate your grocery budget!

Aldi-Lunds Comparison

ItemQuantityLunds Price ($)Aldi Price ($)
Raisin Bran (18.7 oz)14.091.79
MultiGrain Cheerios (12 oz)14.491.79
Cabbage (2 lbs)11.581.39
Spinach (5 oz)11.991.49
Red Onion (2 lbs)12.581.69
Large Eggs (Dozen)11.891.09
Wyman's Frozen Mango (15 oz)14.992.09
Lunds 2% Milk13.292.15
New York Pita Chips (8 oz)13.691.99
Sabra Classic Hummus (8 oz)13.991.99
Gold'n Plump Chicken Breast (1 lb)211.845.38
Kitchen Basics Vegetable Stock (8.25 oz)22.583.78
Bananas (1 lb)2.551.501.25
Spring Mix (5 oz)13.291.99
Planters Dry Roasted Peanuts (16 oz)14.591.99
Lunds: $47.80 Aldi: $28.06
Related Posts

Check out our $40 weekly meal plan for 2!

4 Easy Steps for Meal Planning on a Budget

Let us know about your Aldi experience below. Are you as in love as we are?

– A

$40 a Week – Meal Plan for 2! Week 5

Meal Plan Week 5

In Review

Bit of a strange week this week. We had quite a few meals provided with the extensive Easter weekend family events between the two families. This resulted in lower than normal expenses. We even received a whole ton of protein bars for me to use as snacks at work for the next…million years or so! My mother tries a lot of different protein bars, ha ha!

The meals last week ended up being great for lunches, and providing some non-dairy food over the weekend for L. I especially liked the elegantly simple BBQ pulled chicken meal. It took less than an hour to make in the pressure cooker and was easy to make into a tasty sandwich for lunch!

Going Forward

This week feels a little rushed and thrown together. I made up a grocery list on the fly and ended up using our excess budget from last week. That’s what I get for not having a good plan. The plus side is that we have a lot of great ingredients to choose from when making our meal plan for the week! Ch-ch-check it out!

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Week 5 Meal Plan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Grocery Haul-Week 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you may know if you’ve seen our other meal plans, I like recipes, but I rarely actually follow a recipe. The scientist in me is boggled by this fact. In truth, I often look through several similar recipes and pick out what sounds best to me and depending on what I have on hand. Below I have links to several inspiration recipes for the week. If you want more inspiration, check out our Pinterest!

This weeks Recipes

Crack Slaw

Make your own Taco Seasoning! So much cheaper and you can make it extra spicy! Or less if that suits you!

Yellow Thai Curry from Rachel Cooks Thai

Check out our other Weekly Meal Plans!
We will see you all next week!
Let us know your meal planning and grocery budgeting tips and trick in the comments
– A + L

Married Filing Bidentate: Is Marriage Really at Tax Benefit? Part 2

The April 18th tax deadline has me thinking even more about taxes than usual, massive tax nerd that I am. I did a post earlier looking into how my taxes would change after marriage, and the conclusion was not much. However, I have to add a little caveat to that, as totally overlooked two aspects which CAN actually change things! Exciting, right?

Retirement Savings Contributions Credit (Saver’s Credit)

The Retirement Savings Contributions Credit is a way for low income brackets to get reduced taxes for contributing towards an IRA or a Roth IRA.

When tax brackets double from filing singly to jointly there is usually going to be a benefit if one spouse has a lower income than the other. As you can see below, the Saver’s credit nicely doubles, which prevents any pesky marriage penalties from showing up.

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2016 Saver’s Credit1

Unlike income tax brackets, the Saver’s credit is based on your adjusted gross income (AGI). The AGI is your wages, salaries and tips, including taxable dividends and stuff, minus deductions.

That’s as much as $ 2750 in tax credit for the below $ 18,500 bracket! All the more powerful considering you get that same benefit for a Roth, which, by definition, does not usually reduce your taxes like a normal IRA!

I had totally written the Saver’s Credit off (tax puns!) until recently. As a student, I fail one of the three requirements to get the credit,

  1. Age 18 or older;
  2. Not a full-time student; and
  3. Not claimed as a dependent on another person’s return.My soon-to-be wife withheld (I’m on fire!) looking into the saver’s credit because her income was juuuuuust a little too high.

Filing jointly though, my super-low grad-student salary comes swooping in to the rescue! Our incomes together actually come in under the filing jointly limit. This means we can take a 10% off her Roth IRA contributions! That’s $550 if she maxes it out. Alright, these must be the marriage benefits I’ve been hearing about!

Minnesota Marriage Tax Credit

This one is a little specific to our Land of 10,000 Lakes, but we have something here called the Marriage Tax Credit. The Marriage Tax Credit is meant to tackle those cases of marriage penalties like I talked about in my 1st tax post. The credit gets larger for cases of spouses making very similar, large incomes.

The qualifying stipulations are,

  1. You are married and filing a joint return.
  2. Each spouse has taxable earned income, taxable pension or taxable Social Security income.
  3. Your joint taxable income is at least $37,000.
  4. The income of the lesser-earning spouse is at least $23,000.

The first two are pretty obvious off the bat, but 3 and 4 demand some looking into to see if you qualify.

The limits are based on taxable income, so that’s basically going to be your AGI minus exemptions and your standard deduction, if you’re not itemizing.

Boom! Turns out we qualify in all areas! We actually have just barely enough taxable income to qualify. So as long as our incomes don’t change drastically this year we can look forward to $68! Not bad!

In Summary

So, contrary to the first tax post, marriage is actually going to be a definite tax benefit for us. We’ll pay about $618 less in taxes than if we had not been married and filed singly. 

Has this given you any ideas about your tax situation? Are there tax reasons why you want to DEFER marriage? (Somebody stop me!)

-A

References
  1. Retirement Savings Contributions Credit

$40 a Week – Meal Plan for 2! Week 4

Meal Plan Week 4

Welcome to anyone who is just joining our Weekly Meal Planning series and welcome back if you’re returning!

We are having so much fun writing these posts and I hope that they are of some use to you! As we are getting further into this adventure I’ve been thinking about how to make these posts more useful. If there’s something different you would like to see, leave a comment below, we’d love to have your input!

In Review

Week 4 of the meal plan and our budget is still going strong! Last week our grocery list was short. As in $10 under budget short and so I threw into the cart some of the staples that we keep in the freezer and pantry to get us up to $40.

This includes fruit for smoothies (I can feel summer coming and I’m ready to welcome it with open arms!), cans of tuna, chickpeas, and tomatoes, vegetable or chicken broth.

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Our pantry

Keeping a stocked pantry is so important to use because on a lot of our meal plans we leave Saturday and Sunday open for leftovers. A big reason for this is that we are often not home during the weekend.

Sometimes there’s not enough leftovers to go around and that’s when we turn to the pantry. One of my favorite recipes lately is this Spicy Baked Eggs from POPSUGAR.

Today (Sunday) we ran out of leftovers, turned to the pantry and and the internet and came up with these Tuna and Sweet Potato Patties. I also made some homemade aoli to go with it (and to cover up the tuna, which I don’t particularly like). Aaron loved it!

Meal planning is great, but some of our best meals come from when we have to use what we have on hand!

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Tuna patty
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Homemade aoli! From top left to right: lemon sriracha, lime cilantro, garlic lemon, and ginger. Yum!
Going Forward

Things are pretty bare in the fridge this week, you’ll see on the Have column below. Excited to try out some new recipes. It’s Easter weekend, so we’ll be spending a lot of time with family and not in charge of cooking, which will be interesting. We will still be bringing some food because my gluten free, dairy free does not line up with A’s mom’s Keto diet (read: ALL of the dairy).

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Meal Plan – Week 4
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Grocery List – Week 4
Confession

I like recipes. No really, I love them. But I rarely actually follow a recipe. The scientist in me is boggled by this fact. In truth, I often look through several similar recipes and pick out what sounds best to me and depending on what I have on hand. Below I have links to several inspiration recipes for the week. If you want more inspiration, check out our Pinterest!

This weeks Recipes

Pressure Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken

Check out our other Weekly Meal Plans!
We will see you all next week!
Let us know your meal planning and grocery budgeting tips and trick in the comments
– L

$40 a Week – Meal Plan for 2! Week 3

Meal Plan Week 3

In Review

Week 3 of the meal plan and our budget is still going strong! Again, I’m happy to say last week’s groceries stayed under budget by dollars. Probably my favorite meal last week was an improvised salad we made.

Meal Plan Week 3-bidentateonabudget.com
Apple-Chicken Balsalmic Salad

 

It’s representative of the type of meal we especially like to make. In this case we were inspired by things going bad in the fridge!

In this way it was very cost-effective, because we used the last of the green from last week, which were still not quite wilted, as well as some apples which were on their last legs. Beyond that, we simply combined things we had on hand that sounded tasty, like crushed walnuts, cooked chicken and raisins. Whenever we make salad we make our own simple dressings. This time we combined olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a little salt to make an acidic flavor to go with the apples.

L and I are very passionate about reducing waste and try our best to set up these meals to use our unexpected surplus from one week to the next. We strive to reduce waste not only for the budget, but also to reduce our impact on the environment! Planning meals in this way goes a long way to reducing our personal food waste. Not only that, but it helps give you ideas about what meals to do in the planning phase! Win-win!

Going Forward

Still have some greens leftover from this last week. There were a few days we had planned to make salads and did not, for a reason or another. We will be making more salads like that featured above, because it was amazing. As always, I will post the grocery haul on Monday with the receipt for those keeping score.

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Week 3_Meals
Grocery List-Week 3

 

Check out our other Weekly Meal Plans!
We will see you all next week!
Let us know your meal planning and grocery budgeting tips and trick in the comments
– A

$40 a Week – Meal Plan for 2! Week 2

Week 2

In Review

The last week’s meal plan remained under-budget by $5, so week two is already off to a good start! We’re feeling quite accomplished after actually using an entire bag of spinach before it went bad! The other bag of greens is a little wilted…but there’s always room for improvement! The peanut stew was particularly delicious.

Going Forward

We’ve resolved to eat more leafy greens with each meal, so more salads are on the docket this week. More salads will involve making our own dressing, so we’ll post what we decide later this week. Aldi, here we come! I’m particularly looking forward to the Thai Salad we didn’t make it to last week. Other than that, most dinner recipes are very simple this week.

Peanut-Sesame Slaw with Soba Noodles – Cookie & Kate

Week 2 Meal Plan
Meal Plan Week 2-bidentateonabudget.com
Week 2 Meal Plan
Meal Plan Week 2-bidentateonabudget.com
Grocery List-Meal Plan Week 2

 

Update

We made it under budget so far again! So far we’re at $72.87, for those keeping score! I can’t wait to share the delicious things we’ve already made and help you stick on a meal plan budget!

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Week 2 Grocery Haul!
We will see you all next week!
Let us know your meal planning and grocery budgeting tips and trick in the comments