Monday, March 22, 2021

7 of the most practical ways to save money


Photo by Michael Longmire on Unsplash


Are you trying to be better about saving money? You’ve heard the same advice, time and time again: spend less. But the question now is, how? “Spend less” is vague, and you have expenses to pay that you can’t just eliminate, as much as you’d like to. Here are seven practical ways to save money, and not all of them entail making sacrifices:

Save in Small Increments

Perhaps you struggle with saving money because you always forget or don’t know how much to put aside. When your paycheck comes in, do you immediately put a certain percentage in a different account that you don’t touch regularly, or do you let it all sit in one account, waiting to be spent? 

Start by saving small increments. $2 to $5 will add up over time if you do it frequently enough. Instead of logging into your online banking account every time you want to add a few dollars into your savings, you can use third-party apps that make small transactions easy. For example, you can use Earnin’s Tip Yourself feature to save a small amount of cash, and assign tipping yourself to a positive behavior (such as working out), so you remember to do it often.

Snowball Your Debt

A significant part of your money-saving plan should be paying off debt. Identifying where to start eliminating debt can be just as tricky as figuring out how to save more money, so experts suggest employing the “snowball” technique. As a snowball rolls down a hill, it grows larger as it accumulates snow and momentum. You can apply the same concept to your debt and begin with the smallest amounts.

It sounds counterintuitive, but by paying off your $500 credit card debt before tackling your $5,000 loan, you glean a sense of satisfaction and practice better financial habits. If you pay off $500 of your loan, you still have two debts and two interest rates. Knock one out of the way by starting with the smaller debt and build enough momentum to pay off the other.

Audit Your Expenses — Then Trim Them

Conduct a thorough audit of your expenses to see where your problems lie (besides not earning enough money, of course). What are the payments you cannot avoid, and what are the costs you could do without or somehow reduce? We’re not suggesting you cut out leisure entirely — recreational activities and entertainment are important to everyone’s mental health — but if you’re spending money on something you don’t use or that doesn’t bring you happiness, put that money toward your savings instead.

Cancel Monthly Subscriptions

While subscriptions are convenient because you don’t have to think about paying the bill each month, they can be a sneaky expense that drains your account for no reason. If you watch a Netflix show in June and August, why pay $15 for July? Don’t be afraid to cancel subscriptions, even if you know you’ll resume using the service in the future. 

Be wary of year-long subscriptions, too. Don’t bother paying the fee for Amazon Prime if you’re only going to order something a few times per year.

Forsake Brand-Name Goods

The appeal of brand names is enticing, but it’s often manufactured. Generic goods can be just as high-quality as brand-name varieties. Omitting the price difference from your monthly expenses can result in significant savings. If a designer's shirt costs $100 but is hardly better than another of the same style that costs $20, go with the latter and don’t pay for novelty.

However, some brands do use higher-quality materials and put more effort into their products. It’s good to invest in longevity, so you aren’t buying the same product over and over again, so research what companies you buy from and whether the extra cost is worth it.

Call and Negotiate With Your Providers

It might not have crossed your mind to call your various creditors and providers (such as your credit issuer, mortgage lender, health insurance provider, internet provider, etc.) and ask them if they are willing to reduce your bill or interest rates. Why not? What they charge you isn’t fixed, and it never hurts to ask. The worst thing they can do is say no, so pick up the phone (you may have to call around to find the right person) and negotiate lower interest rates and fees. Hopefully, they want to keep you as a customer enough to grant your request.

Convert Money to Time

Saving more and spending less requires thinking about money differently. When you see an item you want to buy but aren’t sure whether you can afford it or not, try thinking about the price in how long it would take to earn that money back. For example, if you make $17 an hour and want to purchase a new coat that costs $65, that’s almost four hours' worth in wages. Changing your perspective will help you align your spending habits with your budget more effectively.

Your financial health will be in a much better place if you know how to save more money. You may have to make some lifestyle changes, but there are other practical ways to reduce your expenses and pocket what you earn.


This article originally appeared on Earnin.


Please note, the material collected in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as or construed as advice regarding any specific circumstances. Nor is it an endorsement of any organization or Services.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Fixed Google Play services keeps stopping problem in Android device

Recently, my Samsung Galaxy Tab A 6 tablet suddenly hit the infamous "Google Play services keeps stopping" problem.

The following window will pop up almost every few seconds, even after you have chosen to close app or send feedback.

Clearing cache of Google Play services did not solve the problem.

The Google Play services was unable to be forced stop nor disabled.

Unable to uninstall updates to Google Play services too.

Restarting the tablet had no effect to the problem.

Force stop the Google Services Framework, clearing its cache and even clearing its data did not help.

It seems that factory reset the tablet will be the last resort.

Luckily, I managed to fix it before going to the extreme of factory reset option.

What I did was to manually download and install the Google Play services.

You can download the APK file of Google Play services from APKMirror website.

Choose the latest version, which currently is 21.06.13.

You need to download the APK file that matches with the CPU architecture of your Android device. In the case of Samsung Galaxy Tab A 6 (2016 edition), its architecture is arm64-v8a.

The APK file also needs to match with the Android OS version currently running on your device. In my case, it is Android 8.1.

After downloaded and installed the Google Play services APK file, my problem magically solved.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Can You overdraft a credit card, debit card, or savings account?


Photo by Timeo Buehrer on Unsplash

Overdraft protection is a banking service consumers can opt into to overdraw their chequing accounts for a fee. For instance, if your account only has $10 in it and you forgot about your upcoming $15 Netflix subscription, your payment will still go through because 1) your bank can loan you $5, or 2) you have a backup account linked. Your bank will charge you an overdraft fee either way, and Bankrate reports that the average fee is $33.47.

“Can I overdraft my debit card?” you ask yourself. “What about my credit card? Or my savings?” You know it’s possible to overdraw your account with online payments, and you’ve heard of people doing it with cheques, so it’s understandable to wonder what other kinds of accounts allow you to make transactions without sufficient funds. If we’re going to use the term “overdraft” as a verb, let’s dive into the possibilities.

Can You Overdraft a Debit Card?

Yes, you absolutely can overdraft a debit card.

Let’s say you had $5 in your account this morning, but today is payday, so you should have plenty of money by the afternoon. Unfortunately, your employer’s payroll system takes longer to deposit your paycheck, so you won’t have the funds you expect some time until the next business day. You use your debit card to buy a $7 slushie from the convenience store without knowing your real balance. The transaction goes through because you have overdraft protection, but now you owe the bank $35.47 — $2 for what it loaned you and $33.47 for the service.

You can call the bank and try to explain, but you just purchased a really expensive slushie if they decide not to waive the fee. It was such a small difference, too, but overdraft fees are fixed. Your debit card is connected to your chequing account, so debit card overdrafts are a common way to incur such fees.

In addition, banks will often set overdraft limits. Even if you have overdraft protection, this means you cannot borrow more than your bank will allow if you overdraw your account (such as $500 or $1,000).

Can You Overdraft a Credit Card?

No, a credit card overdraft is not a thing — at least, not exactly. Because using your credit card entails borrowing money from your credit issuer, there is technically no finite amount of money in an account to withdraw from.

However, it is possible to reach and exceed your credit limit. Your credit limit is the maximum amount of money your issuer is willing to let you borrow. This number varies between different cards, institutions, and individuals, so it could be as little as $200 (such as putting down a deposit on a secured card) or as much as $500,000. Your card will decline if you attempt to make a purchase that pushes you over your credit limit.

Unless you have over-limit coverage, that is. Similar to overdraft protection, over-limit coverage is a service you must opt into with your credit issuer that enables you to exceed your credit limit in exchange for a fee. Your bank cannot charge you fees for reaching your limit, only if you agree to surpass it.

Keep in mind, though, that using too much of your available credit could negatively impact your credit score. Experts suggest using approximately 30% of your credit limit. For instance, if you have $15,000 in available credit, then making more than $4,500 worth in purchases or expenses could make you seem like a risky borrower.

Can You Overdraft a Savings Account?

Fortunately, a savings account can only be emptied, not overdrafted. That said, different rules influence your ability to withdraw from your savings.

US law dictates that you cannot make more than six convenient withdrawals from your savings account per month (“convenient” includes transfers made via phone, online, cheque, etc.). Your bank may charge you a fee if you exceed this number of withdrawals or refuse the transaction. However, it’s possible to exceed the six-withdrawal limit if you use “inconvenient” methods, such as visiting a bank branch in person, taking out cash from an ATM, or requesting a cheque.

How Can You Avoid Overdraft Fees?

Though you cannot overdraft savings accounts or credit cards, it’s beneficial to be careful with your checking account, so you avoid overdraft fees. A few ways you can elude overdraft fees include:

       Opting out of overdraft protection;

       Enabling low-balance alerts, so you know when you are at risk of overdrawing your account;

       Linking your checking account to your savings as a backup.


You can also use financial apps to manage your various accounts and keep a watchful eye on your financial situation. If you have a low balance with no choice but to pay a necessary expense, then Earnin allows you to access up to $100 per day from your paycheck before the typically scheduled date without taking out a loan. Likewise, Mint is helpful for budgeting, and Peak can help you visualize your financial goals.

You’re not alone if you’re worried about overdrafting, but rest assured, you cannot overdraft a credit card or savings account.


This article originally appeared on Earnin.


Please note, the material collected in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as or construed as advice regarding any specific circumstances. Nor is it an endorsement of any organization or Services.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Have you done your washing machine cleaning service?

Recently I engaged a washing machine cleaning professional to dismantle and perform deep clean-up to my washing machine.

I did periodically make use of washing machine cleaning powder and the tub cleaning function of the washing machine to clean it up, but I was told that was not good enough as there is much dirt inside the washing machine unable to be removed with that method.

That is really a true statement. You can see the "before" and "after" photos below for the difference The washing machine had just been treated with made-in-Taiwan washing machine cleaning powder right before the washing machine cleaning professional came to do the deep cleaning. If not, it would be even more dirtier than in the photo.

The service includes sanitization in the washing machine by using UV light to kill virus, bacteria, germs and microbes inside the washing machine, after all the parts were assembled back into the machine.

Similar to the concept of air-cond service, which we all familiar with, I think washing machines also need periodic thorough cleaning service like this. Otherwise, it is very dirty inside. Can you imagine the situation of your clothes being washed inside a dirty washing machine?

My Vention 3-port 5 Gbps USB 3.0 hub with RJ45 gigabit ethernet LAN adapter

If you are using a laptop with limited number of USB ports, and/or without a built-in RJ45 ethernet LAN port, this Vention 3-port USB 3.0 hub with RJ45 gigabit ethernet LAN adapter could be a handy and useful companion for your laptop.

At the price of around RM50, this small gadget is able to extend one of the USB port of your computer into 3 USB ports. At the same time, it also converts the USB port into a gigabit ethernet LAN port that supports 1,000 Mbps network bandwidth.

The LAN port can work at the same time with the 3 USB ports on it.

It supports USB 3.0, which is able to provide a maximum data transmission speed of 5 Gbps.

It is also backward compatible with the older USB 2.0, which is able to provide a maximum data transmission speed of only 480 Mbps.

You can refer to the table below for the comparison of different generations of USB port.

As such, if your computer comes with both the USB 2.0 port(s) and USB 3.0 port(s), you should plug this gadget into the blue colour USB 3.0 port to obtain a much faster data transmission speed than the USB 2.0.

This gadget also has a micro-USB power in port for you to provide charging power from wall charging adapter or car charging adapter. It supports 5V/2A fast charging.

You might need to make use of this micro-USB power in port to provide additional power for charging your handphone and/or tablet with the USB 3.0 ports on the hub, or to power up certain external harddisk that requires a larger power to work.

Other than this 3-port USB 3.0 hub with RJ45 gigabit ethernet LAN adapter, Vension also has different range of similar products, such as USB-C hub, USB to audio port adapter, USB to 100 Mbps ethernet adapter, etc.

There is a cheaper Vention 3-port USB 2.0 hub with RJ45 100 Mbps ethernet LAN adapter that looks alike. I would recommend you to go for the USB 3.0 version with gigabit ethernet LAN adapter for much better performance. Don't buy the wrong version for a cheaper price!

Hint: Click on the "Older Posts" link to continue reading, or click here for a listing of all my past 3 months articles.