Tips for Buying Gaming Computers

To the average consumer, who may or may not be inexperienced in the subject tinkering around inside of computer cases as a hobby, building a gaming computer can be a complicated and mystifying process; especially with big brands throwing around fancy and sophisticated terms you’ve never heard of in your life. I mean, sure you may have heard of a CPU or maybe some RAM but have you heard of tFlops, GDDR5X or NVM+E SSD?

The truth is, you probably haven’t, but that’s okay! We’re here to help you with that. Without using all of those fancy terms, this article should help to provide you with the basic guidelines regarding creating either a media consumption, productivity based or gaming PC!

1. Consider your Budget.
How much are you willing to fork out for a new system? Your budget is the most important aspect of the research process. You need to know how much you have to spend because it’s what will tell you what kind of components you can afford. You can do some initial research into pricing beforehand.

2. What kind of games do you play?
If you are like me, then you like to play the newest AAA FPS titles. That means that your graphics capability matters more than your processor performance, although that may not be the case for every game. If you prefer turn-based games, then you’ll want to spend more on a powerful processor, as a fast CPU will process the decisions made by the AI at a higher rate.

3. What kind of display do you have?
One more important thing to keep in mind is what you’re powering regarding a screen. Do you have an archaic 1600×900 IBM monitor, or a 120 Hz 2560×1440 monitor with G-Sync? The more you turn up the graphics resolution, the more demanding the game will be regarding graphical and processing performance.

4. What kind of Processor is right for you?
Regarding the CPU, any good and modern quad core processor should do the trick. You don’t need to have a six, eight or twelve core processor to play your games just yet, although that could very well change in the future with the advent of more popular 4K gaming.

5. What about RAM?
For now, DDR3 is the bottom of the barrel, and anything below 8GB is already obsolete. The best budget RAM configuration would be 8GB of DDR4 running at 2133 Mhz if your motherboard and CPU support it, that is. A well balanced, high end of the mid-range spectrum PC would be toting 16GB of DDR4, by 2017’s standards.

6. Solid State versus Hard Drives?
This is a straightforward question to answer! Regarding both pricing, performance, and reliability, it’s best to have a 120GB SSD at least, acting as your OS cache and also a small drive for your most used programs. For more reliable storage, though, and at a lower price, you can pick up a 1TB hard drive for as little as $50 off of Amazon.

7. What about my GPU?
This is a fun one to answer. It depends on what you play. If you’re big into demanding and brand new games, you’ll want a GPU from no older than 2015 with at least 4GB of GDDR5 memory, if you’re running at 1080p. Anything else requires between 6 and 8GB if you’re playing in 1440p or 3160p. (4K) There are loads of budget, mid-range and high-end options for graphics cards nowadays. Some strong contenders for the high end are Nvidia’s GTX 1070 and 1080 (Ti) series, and for a budget-oriented system, you’d be hard pressed to find anything else better for value than the 4GB Rx 580 for $215. (Or so, the price does tend to fluctuate)

With these tips in mind, you should be easily able to create a simple but powerful gaming rig, at whatever price point you desire! Have fun! #PCMasterRace

Benefits of Buying Food Locally

Locally grown food is a commodity that not all communities have. Farms that host farmers markets usually are small businesses that link together to try to create a ‘community within a community’ for local, fresh, organic produce. It’s a way for smaller companies to get to know each other, and of course, a chance for the people that live in the local area to experience healthy, fresh, delicious and organic food at good prices.

Fruit and vegetables aren’t the only things sold at farmers markets, though; many markets go up for one or two days every weekend have, in addition to the standard fruits and veggies, fresh and natural honey from local bees, and fresh organic meat from the local pastures. One of the boons of having honey harvested from local bees is the pollens and minerals in the honey; the bees collect the same flowers that surround the homes of the people that buy it. This means they develop natural immunities to the allergens that lurk outside and affect so many during the warmer seasons.

But how do any of these aforementioned things tie into being benefits of purchasing local food? Well, for one thing, you get to support real, local, boots-on-the-ground small businesses that work and operate in the area. The owners of which live in the same communities that you do and this can form not only real but also business partnership relationships.

Another significant boon of purchasing food locally is that you not only get your hands on cheap, fresh, tasty and natural products, but you keep the market alive for these businesses, which also ties into supporting the businesses. These local farmers can provide the community with vibrant and healthy produce on a daily or weekly basis.

Aside from these simple but still significant benefits, there are also more green-oriented and practical advantages that come from buying locally, some of which we will go over now.

1. Local products are healthier for you and taste way better.
Some studies have shown that fresh products lose their nutrients during travel, a side effect of the preservative chemicals sprayed onto them before shipping. However, when you get your hands on fresh and local products, those nutrients and minerals remain until, of course, you eat them.

2. Local food protects the natural genetic diversity
Instead of having these small-town products commercialized and incorporated into big shopping chains, they are grown locally and freshly and remain genetically distinct from other variants of the same vegetable. A potato grown in New Hampshire will taste and look different than one grown in New York, thanks to the various minerals and pH levels in the soil.

3. Local farms preserve space in nature and can support a more fully diverse environment.
As the market for more commercially grown fruits and vegetables emerges, the space needed to keep up with the supply and demand increases also, leading to more and more fields and forests being harvested for their space or materials to provide for the increasing market, which is not only detrimental to the quality and freshness of the food, but also hurts the environment and pushes smaller locally owned farms and businesses away from selling their produce.

Finally, with privately owned smaller farms, we can directly control our food; both regarding the quality and quantity of the produce, and the land that we grow it on boosting the health of the environment around us and helping out local businesses. In short, it’s always better to buy local food and support local businesses, because of the positive effects it has on our health, the environment and the community of which it surrounds.

9 Quick Tips on Purchasing Organic Produce with Less Waste

Buying specifically organic produce nowadays, especially at big chains like Whole Foods, can be a stressful, expensive and tiring process; we’ve all been there and done that. With these issues in mind, here are nine quick tips on purchasing fresh, local, organic produce on a budget.

1. Shop at farmers’ markets instead of your local grocery store.
Farmers markets are always a great source of fresh, local, raw and delicious produce. Instead of a 1-month-old tomato that has green grown with chemicals, fed with chemicals and sprayed with preservatives that have traveled thousands of miles (or across the seas) you’re buying a handpicked tomato, fresh off the vine, no more than one or two days old. Not only that, but you know the background of the company you’re purchasing from, and you know everything about it’s growing process; plus, to add onto that, you’re supporting a small local business, which is always a good idea.

2. Do your research!
Unbeknownst to you, you may just have a lot more choices for fresh and organic produce near you than you might think. Look around for local farms, weekly farmers markets, and other green pro-organic organizations.

3. Buy a share or two in a local, green, community supported joint agriculture program.
Purchase a share in a CSA program means that you pay a portion of the local farms operating expenses, keeping it open and letting it continue to provide the community with fresh, wholesome organic produce. It also means that you get boxes and crates of fresh fruit, vegetables, and herbs delivered to your door either once, twice a week or however many times a week or month the program offers. You’re also supporting a local business! For instance, the more you buy from a CSA say in Worcester MA, they less they have worry about trash hauling services in Worcester for unsold items that can’t be easily composted or dealt with at the farm locally.

4. Buy when it’s most popular, during the big-time season.
The best time to purchase your local organic produce is during the big season; this is when the most kinds of vegetables and fruits are offered, and they are as fresh as can be.

5. Buy in Bulk!
Buying (anything) fresh fruits and vegetables in bulk is a good way to stretch your monthly food paycheck a long way. Individually priced items are always more expensive than just purchasing bigger volumes of one particular item.

6. Use your freezer more!
Aside from what TV ads may be telling you, your freezer is better than just frozen pizza and TV dinners. If you just bought three crates of fresh organic fruits and vegetables at bargain prices, your best bet would be to freeze the majority of it; unless, somehow, you plan on eating all of that in one week.

7. Grow your own! Why not?
If you are entirely dedicated to consuming and purchasing fresh, local, organic produce on a weekly or daily basis, would it not also be a good idea to consider growing your own? Of course, it would be a fair bit of work, but nothing you shouldn’t be able to handle. It’ll take some time for it to get up and running, but it would certainly be a good learning experience and would help to cut down on costs.

Not to mention that you could grow anything you’d want to, and could go from having a fresh yam buried a foot under the ground to your plate in less than 30 minutes; that’s pretty sweet if you ask me.

8. Join a buying club.
A buying club is a great way to get fresh organic fruits and vegetables at great prices. By talking to your local co-op or farmers market organizations, you can join a buyers club and save up to 30 or 40 percent on your bulk purchases. If you’re dedicated to consistently having fresh food in your home, that 30 or 40 percent that you save can go quite a long way regarding how much money you spend every month.

9. Shop online.
If you can’t find any local farmers markets or any of the other markets or organizations listed above, don’t lose hope! There are other ways of obtaining fresh organic food that isn’t directly from your supermarket, which is neither fresh nor organic most of the time. (And when it is, it’s overpriced.)

The GreenPeople Directory from the OCA (Organic Consumer Association) is a great place to begin your online search for obtainable online foods. There are a surprising amount of businesses that capitalize on shipping out and mailing fresh food and ingredients as their business.

You should look into subscribing to one of these businesses, even if you have your sustainable network of organic produce because it could save you a couple of bucks. If not that, it would at least serve as a convenient way to get the same delicious and organic foods.

There we have it! Our top 9 tips on obtaining healthy, fresh, delicious, organic foods at great prices. The importance of having fresh organic food cannot be stressed enough. They are (95%) free of most of the gross chemicals that are found in other ‘organic’ foods, such as FDA certified foods. Not to mention it’s fresher and tastier, and supporting local farms and businesses can help the community. Good luck!

And buy for cheap?

How to Buy Groceries Frugally

While it is true that there are already hundreds of articles on how to conserve your money when buying groceries, we’re sure that one more won’t hurt. We’re all about saving money and giving out free shopping tips on all sorts of things, but groceries tops our list as one of the most important things to save money on.

Your grocery bill, depending on what kind of food you buy, the size of your family or the number of people you’re providing for, as well as the amount that each person consumes daily, can make your food bill anywhere between $150 to $700 (yes, $700) a month. That’s a lot of money every month (over $8,000 a year), especially for food.

We’ve done our research, acted on these tips from personal experience, and thus we have compiled our top ten tips (rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?) for saving money when buying your groceries.

1. Use your sales wisely.
We all get junk mail, that’s true, but in that junk mail that you usually throw away without sparing a glance, may be a few hidden gems; those being the numerous sheets upon sheets of coupons for your local Stop & Shop or Costco. You may usually disregard these, but if used correctly, can come in handy very often. We’ve all heard the stories about those super-soccer-moms who somehow spend only $60 a month with a family of 6. That is only possible through the power of coupons. Save them!

2. Limit your drink purchases!
The majority of what we drink every day is water. It’s almost free, always fresh, containing healthy minerals and produces no trash, which is safe for the environment. You don’t need to drop $4.75 on a small frappe at Starbucks. Instead, you could just buy some teabags once or twice a month for $3 a box ($2 with coupons, or use a sale to your advantage) and save a LOT of money.

3. Shop somewhere else?
Yeah, I know it sounds crazy, but you should try it sometime. Just don’t buy those bizarre $1 steaks at Family Dollar. They’re gross. Anyway, you may find that a local grocery store you’ve never tried has way more organic produce at a lower price. It’s always a good idea to experiment.

4. Buy very basic foods.
Gallons of milk, bags of rice and buckets of potatoes, canisters of oatmeal and slabs of uncut lunchmeat as well as your dirt cheap selection of Italian herbs and spices can very easily make dozens of different meals, at a low price.

5. Put all of your food to use. Eat your leftovers!
All of these tips won’t help you very much if you make a tasty meal (with the ingredients mentioned above) and don’t eat your leftovers. You’re just wasting valuable, fresh food at that point!

6. Plan a Menu.
A good way to save money is to plan of time, based on what you eat, what you want to eat, and what your budget is. That way, you can buy exactly what you need without wasting money on random items.

7. DIY!
Not everyone has the time, money, nor inspiration to cook for themselves regularly. However, DIY-ing your food can stretch your budget for the month. For instance, 4 quarts of store-bought yogurt would be around $12, while 4 quarts of homemade yogurt (using a gallon of milk and your spices) would be around $4.

8. Go to your local Costco.
Everything is more expensive when you purchase small, individual packages. Take a huge bag of lifesavers ($2.99) versus a tin of Altoids. ($1.99) Not to mention, your budget will stretch much farther if you buy bulk items.

9. Take a closer look at store brands. (Yeah, I said it.)
Generic store brand items have improved in the last couple of decades. A lot of them are good. You could save $2.50 on a box of Lucky Charms cereal, and that box would probably be bigger, too.

10. Eat whatever is cheap.
As long as you’re still eating healthy and not compromising on your nutrition, you should be trying to eat whatever is the least expensive. (Again, basic foods) For example, eat oranges instead of kiwis, or a cheap cut of lunch meat instead of corned beef. You can still make a delicious and healthy meal without spending all of that extra money.

So, there it is! Our top ten tips for frugal grocery shopping. Remember, it may be a good idea to drop a few eating habits. You don’t need to buy a name-brand box of cereal (or cereal at all) and that box of pop tarts once every two weeks. That alone could save you $20. And, of course, there are obviously more ways to reduce your monthly grocery bill, but these should give you a pretty basic but effective outline to work off of. Happy shopping!

 

Avoid spending too much money on the Holidays

According to a recent poll that came in last year, courtesy of Gallup, the average American from the middle class spends up to $830 a year on Christmas gifts. That’s a lot of money.

As Christmas is the largest annual gift-giving Holiday, the final months of the late fall / early winter season account for over 20 percent of retail sales, making it the most expensive year for shoppers.

It’s surprising to see, in numbers, how much money we spend on Christmas each year. As an example, we spent $600 billion during last year’s Christmas season. The closest matching season that has any other significant annual expense was the Back to School sale, which only brought in $72 billion. In other words, the Christmas season brings in over nine times more money than any other season combined.

Because of all this money being spent, it’s adverse effects begin to show as January rolls around. Regret over all of the money spent, increased stress, tighter finances, and higher-than-expected credit card statements. These are just a few. It tightens the paychecks of Americans nationwide.

There must be a way that we can avoid all of these adverse effects that roll around every year. If you had this thought, then you would be absolutely right. Here are our top six picks to help you save money this coming Christmas season.

1. Track your spending
One key component to saving money and breaking spending happens during the rest of year, but especially during the holiday season, is to track your spending on a daily basis. This is important to have solid financial stewardship and is a good way to avoid overspending your money.

The seriousness of tracking your spending during the season cannot be overstated; you don’t need any fancy calculators or software to accomplish this, either. All you need is a detailed ledger or even a piece of paper. Just write down what you spend every day, and keep track of your balance.

2. Set a good budget
Before the Holiday season begins, be sure to look through your checkbook and see what you have already set aside for gifts. From there, decide how much of that you want to spend. Make sure to set aside smaller chunks of money not only for gifts but food, travel, etc.

3. Look for shortcuts that make traveling less expensive
Depending on the size of the family, traveling can truly be one of the most expensive luxuries during any holiday season. A few tips to save money on traveling would be to pack food for on the go snacks instead of stopping to eat, packing light to save on baggage fees, shopping through different airlines to pick the best departure/arrival dates, and more.

4. Be aware of the various retail tricks!
Even if many of us have budgets planned out, we can still overspend. This is especially the case with ‘sales’ and ‘flash sales’ as well as the other standard loyalty card and decoy pricing scams. Be aware of exactly what benefits (or lack thereof) that your loyalty programs offer.

5. Cut down on ‘convenience’ pricing
Some kinds of hidden holiday costs come in the form of ‘convenience’ pricing. The stress and busyness of the holiday season break our habits (whether it be in health or spending) and disrupts our usual family rhythms. Sometimes, it is just easier to order a few pizzas for the kids if we need to run to the office holiday party. Be smart about your spending, and try to avoid convenience-oriented money traps!

6. Establish correct expectations ahead of time
If you decide that maybe spending $250 on each of your five kids for Christmas isn’t the best idea, be sure to establish those expectations earlier, and tell them why you’re cutting down. As an example, our kids get three kinds of gifts for Christmas; one thing they need, one they want and one experience to share with the rest of the family. (Travel or something related.)

Now, certainly, there’s more than this (below), but these are the biggest and smartest money saving techniques. Happy holidays! Check out the video below for more.