Category Archives: Personal Finance

The Cheapskate’s Guide to Acquiring Audiobooks

Before I instruct on the surprisingly simple art of acquiring audiobooks in a remarkably monetarily efficient manner, let’s get 2 things out of the way.

1. This post presupposes that you don’t need to purchase a particular book at a specific time (e.g., as soon as it comes out). For example, I have 700+ books on my To Read least in Goodreads, so reading a new book by an author (even one that I really like), is not something that I generally do. I actually plan the books I’m going to read a year in advance (call this obsessive if you like, but I do allow myself to deviate from that plan. I just like to have goals and I’m a slow reader, so if it’s important to me to read a book, then I want to make sure I get to it). Okay, so if you can also wait patiently for a Twitter or Facebook or email announcement that an author or their publisher has discounted one of their books, then you’re halfway there.

2. The second prerequisite is that you prefer audiobooks to the exclusion of almost anything else. For me, this is more out of necessity than anything else. If I’m going to sit down with my iPad or my Kindle Paperwhite (or any other eReader), it’s almost certainly because I’ve got a technical or programming book that I need to (and sometimes even want to!) get through. So in order to “read” fiction books, I have to make use of times when I’m cleaning the floors, or weeding, or mowing the lawn, or even just walking to work.

Okay, so, given that you’re still reading, or skipped over that part to get to the goods… It’s really quite simple.

Cheap Audiobooks

Say, for example, that you – like me – have heard good things about Starship Eternal, so you head to Amazon to check it out…

Screenshot 2015-05-30 13.26.21

If I was in Kindle Unlimited, I could read the Kindle edition for free, so that’s probably the ultimate cheapskate way to do it. I have a “shipping only” version of Amazon Prime that I got because someone “shared” it with me, so as long as they keep paying for full Amazon Prime, I get my Prime shipping but no Amazon Instant Video nor Kindle Library nor Kindle Unlimited nor anything else. Plus, remember, I’m a slow reader who relies on audiobooks anyway, so the Kindle edition, while the cheapest option at $3.99 is going to cost me reading time on other books that don’t even have an audiobook. (Can you imagine Java 8 in Action in audiobook? Spoiler Alert: It’s not going to work.)

But the audiobook version is $26.95 (or $14.95 if you subscribe to Audible). That’s a big difference.

Luckily, there’s an easy way to close the gap…

Screenshot 2015-05-30 13.26.06

Wait – does that really say “Add Audible Narration for $2.99” when you buy the Kindle edition?

Indeed it does.

And $3.99 + $2.99 is much less than $26.95. Less than $14.95 too. In fact, it’s more than 55% off the Audible subscriber price!

And that’s really all there is to it. I’ve done it for 10 different books now and the only consequence is that I’ve got a lot of great audiobooks to read.

Here’s another even more extreme example:
Screenshot 2015-05-30 13.32.36

You can get The Winds of Khalakovo for $2.98 vs $29.95 for the Audible edition by itself.

And just to clarify, this isn’t just for author’s who are offering these books themselves (independently published). I’ve bought Perdido Street Station, Blackbirds, and No Return like this. If you go check right now, all of those are a lot more expensive, but since we’ve already assumed that you don’t need to buy one of them right now, you can wait until the author or publisher decides to throw a discount your way and then go take shameless advantage.


Kiplinger’s is really abstracting things this month


I’ve never been a huge fan of Kiplinger’s, but they do provide solid advice sometimes. I haven’t been needing as much financial advice (at least not the Hot Stock Top kind the magazines use to fill in around the stuff that’s the same every month) since I finally got most of my stuff automated (and invested in a single general mutual fund). But in the February issue, they’re really pushing it…
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Fraud “Protection”

Evidently buying a plane ticket for Thanksgiving and then signing up for Google AdWords (to use a free credit) within 3 days of each other is frowned upon by Capital One. At least I used Skype to call their 800 number and saved myself 20 minutes on our cell phone plan (more time for my wife to talk on the phone). And they give good rewards, so I can’t complain too much.

What scares me a little bit, though, is that they didn’t have a phone number on file for me. Yes, I did just change it recently to my Google Voice number since we’ve decided to cancel our landline, but I got a confirmation email that it had been changed, so it’s worrisome that it wasn’t showing up.

What scares me more is that though they didn’t have a number on file, someone who was “from the Capital One Fraud Department” called my Google Voice number and left a message with a different 800 number to call. I checked that number on (cool site, btw), and it seemed to be split about whether it was a scam or a real number. I called a number from Capital One’s website and got through to their Fraud Department, verified charges, and got back access to my card, but I am still wondering if that person who called my GV number was really from Capital One or if The Scammers have figured out a way to know when your account has been held up for fraud and use that as an “in” to get you to give them all your information.

It’s not frightening to me on a personal level because, as you can see from my story, I am not about to call someone back who says they’re from a credit card company (or bank or any other financial institution) without checking the number and going to the company’s web site first. But I am scared for all the people who are more trusting (and/or worried about their credit and credit card fraud) and will call that number back without hesitation.