All posts tagged cheap

How to hack your Keurig Machine, make better coffee, and keep K-Cups out of landfills.

K55 Keurig Classic

By Brad Beckstrom

Ahh coffee, the fuel of empires. There is something about that hot, head-clearing beverage as it hits the back of your throat. I like to have two cups in the morning to get me going, any more than that I start shaking and develop twitches. I think of coffee as a do-it-yourself beverage, preferring to brew it at home rather than frequent coffee shop lines or convenience store baristas. You might think it’s odd that I have a Keurig machine, the hugely popular coffee system that unfortunately is filling our landfills with plastic K-cups. K cups are certainly not frugal compared to buying a bag of good coffee at Costco or grinding your own beans.

It turns out that the Keurig Classic is one hell of a coffee maker without the K cups. Part of the reason for the machines success is the ability to get the maximum amount of flavor out of the minimum amount of coffee. The problem is is that the K cups often don’t have enough coffee in them especially if you use the 8 or 10 ounce setting, you’re just adding more water.  

The Solution

A while back I purchased a Keurig Classic that was on sale due to the fact that a newer version Keurig 2.0 was coming out with an enhanced digital display. (Hint avoid appliances with digital displays, especially unnecessary ones). I had talked myself out of this purchase until I noticed the display of reusable K-Cups next to the coffee maker. I took the leap, calling it an experiment with the intention of returning the machine unless I absolutely loved the coffee. The results were fantastic, not only could I use my favorite coffee, I only needed half as much to get the same taste versus my old plastic drip coffeemaker.

reusable-k-cups

The Hack Read more…

The Frug’s List. The best free things on the internet (I’ve used for over a year).

The Frug's

By Brad Beckstrom

I should have made this list sooner, but I don’t like recommending something unless I’ve used it for a while, especially if it’s free, or it’s often too good to be true cousin (freemium).  Since I started this blog in 2013, I’ve written about all kinds of free things on the inter-webs so I thought it would be a good idea to consolidate these into an ongoing list that I can update when I discover new free things, or get pissed and take one off the list. You can be sure that if it’s on this list I’ve been using it for at least a year.

Some of the items on this list are what we call “freemium”, meaning the initial version of the app is free, with more full-featured versions available for a fee. I won’t include them on the list if I don’t feel the basic version will fulfill most people’s needs, and I’ll be sure to mention if it’s ad-supported or freemium.  These are not in any particular order, but in the future, I’ll add my latest discoveries to the top of the list.

thefruglist

  • Craigslist, the granddaddy of useful free things on the web. Craigslist has been one of my favorite tools for getting rid of stuff, whether it means posting a curb alert to have your old stuff hauled away for free, unloading old computer equipment for cold hard cash, or selling some sports tickets without some service adding 20% to the price. It’s free, it’s useful, it works. The more you use it, the better you get. Always remember to use photos to get your items noticed. My favorite craigslist story was when our local UPS guy came and hauled away an old sofa that The Salvation Army would not accept.
  • Google Apps for Work. Including Drive, Calendar, Docs, Gmail. I’ve been using Google’s online suite of apps for years. It always amazes me that I can create or find something much faster online in my browser than I can waiting for slow apps from Microsoft and Apple to grind through their bloated routines. After 6 years, I am currently using about eight gigs of the 15 free gigs of storage Google includes with my suite of apps. If you’re worried about security, you can even add two factor authentication. You’ll get a code sent to your mobile device if you try to login to your documents from another browser. You can also sync and backup your docs to your computer using Google Drive for your desktop.

Read more…

Should I have another?  

The best way to track your alcohol intake without carrying around a breathalyzer or having someone offer you one.

intellidrink-iphone

By Brad Beckstrom

So one friend says to me “I shouldn’t have a beer, I’m driving.”  Another friend says “Let’s have another round.” And he may have already had 5. Even though I frequently use UBER or Lyft to get around, I still think it’s a good idea to keep track of what you’re drinking. I’ve been trying to cut back on the amount of alcohol I consume to lose a few pounds and live a healthier lifestyle.

I found a subtle trick you can use  to limit your drinking and stay well within legal limits. You’ll be able to your enjoy yourself whether it’s with the 1 beer friend, 5 beer friend, or no beer friend. Here’s how it works:

The past couple of years I’ve been using a smartphone app called IntelliDrink. The app uses an algorithm based on information you put in to set up your profile. Your profile includes things like height weight, and gender but also allows you to put in your favorite drinks, including type, size, and alcohol content in advance. So, when you have a beverage, all you need to do is click on the drink button. You can even adjust the time you started, as well as whether you have recently eaten, or are drinking on an empty stomach. Just make sure you’re sober when you complete your profile and put in the drink information. You only need to do this once.

frug intellidrink

The most important feature on the app is the blood alcohol content (BAC) graph. What many people don’t realize is that your blood-alcohol level continues to rise after you stop drinking, especially if you’ve had several drinks over a short period of time.  This app does a great job of tracking and  predicting blood alcohol content based on your profile and the types, time, and number of drinks you’ve entered by hitting the drink button. Read more…

Your next home may come out of a 3-D printer and cost about 1/3 of what you’d pay today.

By Brad Beckstrom

By now you’ve probably read all the buzz surrounding 3-D printing.  Designers and engineers are creating 3-D printed inventions like body parts, prosthetics, and custom surgical kits adapted to the patient.

I toured the factory of a potential client who makes kits used by surgeons for spinal surgery. They showed me prototypes for surgical kits that sell for five figures each. In the near future, these will be custom designed and printed for the patient and the type of surgery.

I knew 3D printing had arrived even before I stumbled into a 3-D print shop at the mall.  If you read this blog you know malls give me hives, so it’s very rare I step into one. But there I was, on my way to a restaurant, when I saw shop windows full of 3-D printers in action. Printing out all kinds of prototypes for new products and dreams which users had paid hundreds of dollars to rent the machine to print out their invention.

So I’d seen my share of small 3-D printers printing small things but then I stumbled upon the 3-D printed house. There is a lot of innovation going on in jumbo scale 3-D printing. This factory in China can print out 10 houses a day out of poured concrete mortar.

Winsun 3-D Printed Home  $5000

Winsun 3-D Printed Home $5000

The finished product is the bit rough around the edges, literally. It’s a bit like that old concrete block garage out behind your grandfather’s house. When you have housing demands like China does, this may be a solid, affordable solution at about $5000 US .

The next generation of these is already in the works. Students at the University of South Carolina are working on a portable jobsite printer capable of creating buildings on site. Because the buildings are 3-D printed, the insides of the concrete walls can be hollow or custom configured with spaces for windows, electrical, and plumbing.

 University of South Carolina contour printer.

 

University of South Carolina contour printer.

I think it safe to say that this is still a few years off and the early job site versions of it will most likely be expensive.

3D Houses Here and Now Read more…

B.Y.O.P. Bring Your Own Phone.

How to Take Advantage of the Mobile Carrier Price War.

A new unboxed kick ass iPhone 4S

A new unboxed kick ass iPhone 4S

I’m going to keep this short because I can’t stand mobile phone plans. Mobile carriers have always thrived on complexity. The arrival of smartphones and data plans over the years has only added to the bizarre mobile pricing schemes already out there.

Smartphones have become money machines for the carriers, racking up all kinds of data charges, upgrade fees, smartphone accessory sales.  It’s time for things to change.  I’ll be the first to say that the smartphone a useful appliance. See 21 Things my iPhone replaced.

But if you’re not careful your mobile phone bills will be higher than your utilities. If you’re single, they probably already are.

Tmobile le frug

About a year ago, things did start to change. T-Mobile touched off a price war with some aggressively priced data plans. Especially for families of four which seem to be the holy grail for carriers. T-Mobile is trying to grow market share with some heavily discounted plans and even offered to buy out your old contracts.  To our benefit this infuriated competitors in bringing us to some of the better values out there today. Read more…

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