Wednesday, June 15, 2022

State Farm Review - Some gripes on this insurance company

I have had State Farm insurance for my car as well as my home for several years. Overall it has been ok and I think the costs have been reasonable which is why I have stayed with them, but I do have some issues with them as well.  

One thing that bothers me is they change my policy limits without permission. Every time they send the renewal, they bump up the coverage limits. I have asked them about this in the past and they said they do it automatically from what I remember, to cover things like inflation. That is fine, but it should be an option, not automatic. I don't want my coverage changed so every year they change it and every year I have to tell them to put it back how it was. 

Coverage information is hard to find. I just looked all over the website and it seems there is no way to see the actual coverage details. They tell you your coverage amounts, but it seems if you want to know the details or declarations of what is actually covered you have to request that they send it to you by mail. I have a copy of this from when they first sent it, but I would like to be able to see it online or at least be able to download a digital copy. This should not be that hard. 

Also when viewing your coverage on the website, some of the basic information is missing for descriptions of things like “Loss Assessment”, “Damage of Property to Others”, “Medical Payments to Others”. When you click on them to learn more about what it means, it just says “Sorry a description has not been created for that.” These are just the basic items and there are not that many of them. Someone needs to get on this.

Lastly, and this is just nitpicking, but every year they send me a bunch of address stickers with my name and address on them. It was ok the first time, but they keep sending them. I don't need hundreds of stickers with my name and address on them. It's a nice gesture, but there should be an opt out for something like this as well.

I know some of these may be minor issues, but they are things that could be easily fixed and would greatly improve the customer experience. Hopefully they can address some of these issues soon.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Kasa EC60 Camera Review - Testing the popular security camera by TP-Link

Recently I decided to look into getting an indoor security camera for my home. I wanted something that would be able to detect motion, have recording ability, and connect to wifi to view the live stream from your phone. I also wanted something simple and affordable. After doing a good amount of research I decided to get the Kasa EC60 Spot camera by TP-Link.

There is plenty of information out there about the specs so I will focus this review on my experience with the camera.

Set Up:
For set up, you first download the Kasa Smart app which allows you to connect the camera with your phone and access all the features. Then you plug in the camera and follow all the steps in the app such as making an account and connecting it to your wifi.

I noticed when plugging in the power adapter to the camera it did sound kind of “crunchy” which was not very assuring, but the camera powered up just fine. It did make some clicking noises while setting up which appear to be normal as I noticed it does this when switching to IR night vision mode. The setup process was ok and after a few minutes it was up and running.

The camera quality is acceptable. It's 1080p HD and has the option to go with a lower resolution if you want to use less storage space and have faster transfer of data. When you first view the camera in the app the screen is small, but you can maximize it to full screen. I think it would be better if it just defaulted to the full screen right away as it is pretty small on the first screen.

You are able to view the live feed from your phone which is great for checking in on what is going on when you are away. It also has the option to record if you add a micro SD card. I purchased a 32gb micro SD card to use with it, but so far I have not felt the need to install it.

The app lets you take screen caps of the feed if you give it access to your pictures on your phone. It can also record audio and has a speaker you can use to talk through it if you give the app access to your microphone. I'm pretty cautious with security so I did not use any of these features but they are there if you want it.

One thing I like is it has the option to easily turn the camera on or off using your phone. I did notice however that the camera stays warm even when it is turned off which I found to be odd. I did some research and I don't think it records or live streams when it is off but it's hard to be 100% trusting of things like this so I would recommend covering the lens physically or facing it away when you don't want it recording just to be on the safe side.

The motion detection seems to work pretty good and you can have it send a notification to your phone when it detects movement which is a good security feature.

The infrared night vision also works very well. I turned off all the lights and tested it out and you can see everything pretty clearly. It's pretty amazing how it can do that.

There are plenty of other settings to play around with so you can really customize it to fit your needs.

Overall I am satisfied with the camera and think it is a pretty good deal for $25. If you are looking for an affordable security camera that can record, stream, and detect motion, I would recommend the Kasa EC60 cam.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Menards Rebate Experience - Claiming the 11% Rebate

Menards is known for their 11% off promotion where you can get 11% off your purchase in the form of a rebate. It seems like a good promotion at first, but it can be a bit deceptive and definitely takes some work to actually claim it. Here is my experience with this rebate promotion.

I usually don't make huge purchases at Menards, but I did save up a few receipts over the past few months so I figured I would try claiming the rebate. My receipts only totaled to about $5 credit but it is better than nothing so why not send it in.

On the receipts it does say you have to mail it in by a certain date. I had some that were older than the date mentioned but I decided to send them all in just in case.

To get the rebate form you have to go to the Menards website and enter in your information and then print out the form. Then you have to mail the form and your rebate receipts to the address they provide. It's not too hard but it does take some time and work, not to mention the cost of the envelope and postage.

So I mailed it in and then waited. After a few weeks I got the rebate in the mail. It looks like a postcard folded, and inside is has your rebate amount with a barcode. The credit can be used for purchases in store so it is not like a check that can be cashed. I was able to use the credit on my next purchase at Menards by handing it to the cashier at checkout.

Overall the experience was ok, but I still think the promotion is misleading. For example when they are running the 11% off promotion all the prices are shown as if you are getting 11% off. This is false. You are still paying the full price. If you save your rebates and mail them in, you can get a store credit on your next purchase. Overall I still like the store, but I think they should be more straightforward about this promotion.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Pet Peeve - Chirping Smoke Detectors. Change the battery!

Most people are probably familiar with the annoyance of a smoke detector that is low on battery. The constant chirp every 30-45 seconds telling you it is time to change the battery. While it is annoying, I get that it serves a good purpose so we can give it a pass.

The problem is when people ignore it and just let it continue to chirp for days on end. As someone who lives in a building with many neighboring units, I hear this chirp often. Luckily it is usually only noticeable when you are nearby, but if you live next door or above or below, chances are you will be able to hear it from your own unit. 

I don't understand how people put up with that when their smoke detector is chirping for days. Just change the battery, or at least take the battery out until you can replace it so it stops beeping. Sometimes this may occur in a vacant unit which is just as annoying because there is no one even there to change the battery. 

I'm trying to think if there is any other better or less annoying way a smoke detector could notify you that it is low on battery. They could probably go with visual cue like a light, but it might not be noticed, so the chirp is still probably the best option. Looks like it is here to stay, so please if your smoke detector is chirping, change the battery or replace it asap!

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Suave Purify Body Wash Review

I recently went looking for a new body wash and since prices have been going up at most stores, I wanted to find one at Dollar Tree. I had been using the Arm and Hammer Ultra Max for a while but I was disappointed in my latest bottle which seemed like they changed the formula. 

At Dollar Tree I examined several different options. I noticed most of them were very watery which is something I was trying to avoid. I tested out scents of several that caught my attention, one of which was the Suave Purify body wash. 

I have had good luck with Suave products in the past and this one smelled pretty good so I figured it was worth a try. It is a 12oz bottle which is on the smaller side compared to most of the other options in the store, but the consistency is thicker so it is not watered down like a lot of the others.

At home I tried it and was very pleased with the scent. I would describe it as a bold masculine scent similar to what you might find in a fragrance spray. I also noticed the scent on skin seems to last into the day as opposed to getting washed of right away. 

As mentioned, it has a good consistency that feel good on skin and leaves you feeling clean. At $1.25 for the bottle, I would say it is a great value as it seems like the quality is in par with other body washes that are more expensive. Overall I am pleased with the product and would definitely recommend it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Making a Wallet out of a Bag of Cookies

Recently I discovered some really good cookies. They are the Favorite Day Butter Shortbread cookies available at Target. The cookies themselves are delicious but this article is actually about the bag. The cookies come in a sealed pouch and then they have the external bag which has foldable seal tabs at the top.

Every time I finished a bag of these cookies and then went to throw away the bag, I kept thinking it was too nice of a bag to toss out. It just seemed like the kind of bag that would actually be sold as is, even without the cookies. It is pretty durable and reusable since it never even comes in contact with the actual cookies.

So it can definitely be used as a bag, but I decided to get a little creative with it. I noticed it folded up nicely like a tri-fold wallet. So I thought maybe it could be turned into a wallet. I noticed if you just cut one of the sides of the bag, it pretty much becomes the same shape as a wallet. Then you just need to tape some of the flaps down with clear tape.

You can even cut a slit in the bottom portion of the bag to create a slot for credit cards. After applying the tape, it actually turned out pretty good. It has plenty of space for cash and also holds the cards as well. I like that it even has the foldable tabs to keep it closed. It is also pretty low profile which is nice because many tri-fold wallets tend to be a little bulky.

Now I don't know how long it would last with regular use since it is made of a bag after all, but it does seem fairly durable and it would last well beyond the next bag of cookies that's for sure! If you happen to purchase these cookies, now can make your own wallet or at least have a nice reusable bag! 

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Aldi Favorite Foods - Recommended Items from Aldi

With grocery prices rising on pretty much everything, I have recently started doing most of my shopping at Aldi since they tend to have the best prices. With this switch, I have been trying out a lot of their different items, most of which have been good, some have been ok, and some not so great. From this experience, I decided to make a list of my favorite Aldi items I have found so far.

1. Casa Mamita Bean and Cheese Burritos

If you are looking for a great deal to get a lot of food for your money, this is it. These frozen burritos come in an 8 pack and are only about $3! In most other stores a single wrapped burrito sells for about the same price. Now there is nothing fancy about them, in fact the flavor is pretty mild and the filling seems like mostly beans, but they are perfectly satisfactory for a good meal. Only downside is since they are all packaged together, it can be hard to get them apart sometimes when they are frozen.

2. Simply Nature Apple Banana Squeezable Fruit Blend Pouches

For a convenient serving of fruit, these squeezable packets are unbeatable. They come in a 4 pack for about $1.50 which is a lot less than I have seen for any other similar product at any store. They are very delicious and easy to take on the go. I have also tried the apple strawberry flavor, but this one is my favorite. My only complaint is that at only 3.2 oz, they are gone before you know it and leave you wanting more!

3. Breakfast Best French Toast Sticks Original

I have been a fan of french toast sticks for a while so I had to try out the Aldi brand when I saw they had them. I get the original flavor since they are already sweet and don't need extra cinnamon and sugar. These come in a 16oz box for about $2.65 which is a pretty good deal compared to other options out there. They are easy to make in the microwave and the taste is very good. They make a nice snack any time of the day.

4. Bremer Chicken Melts

I tried these out not really knowing what to expect, but overall I was pleasantly surprised with how good they are. They come as 6 individually wrapped flat bread pockets with cheese and a chicken patty for about $5. I found the chicken to be very juicy and flavorful. These are also easy to make in the microwave as well. The bread can get a little hard sometimes but overall these make a great little meal that is tasty and convenient.

5. Elevation Meal Replacement Chocolate Shake

I had been looking for a nutrition shake to try out from Aldi so I decided to try out their Elevation meal replacement shakes. They come in a 6 pack for about $6 which is ok. The price actually went up from $5 when I first tried them out. They are 11 oz each and give you a good blend of nutrition in an easy to drink shake. Overall the taste is good and I would recommend them if you are looking for a nutrition drink like this.

Have you tried any of these items or do you have any other favorite foods from Aldi? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.