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  • Balancing Your Budget with... Toothpaste?

    Cleaning Tips that Save MoneyCleaning Tips that Save Money

    By: Kathy Carter,

    If you've set up a budget, you know how important it is to keep your spending on track. Even a few dollars here and there can add up. The creative use of ordinary items you already have in your home can save you money.

    Consider, for example, plain white toothpaste. It's cheap, especially if purchased in a clearance bin or dollar store. In addition to keeping your pearly whites shining and healthy, the humble tube of toothpaste can do the following for you at a fraction of the cost of buying a cartload of specialized products:

    Repair small holes in your walls.
    This works best with drywall, but it can also be used with plaster. Toothpaste is great for filling in nail holes before you repaint. Just fill the hole, smooth the surface so it's even with the wall, and let the toothpaste dry.

    Restore a badly scratched CD or DVD.
    While some damage is beyond hope, a little toothpaste rubbed into the scratched surface can sometimes smooth the disc so you can Read More »from Balancing Your Budget with... Toothpaste?
  • Back to School on a Budget

    Back to School Shopping on a BudgetBack to School Shopping on a Budget

    By: Stephanie Hamilton,

    As the school year approaches, kids and parents are starting to think about the same thing: clothes. Kids want the latest fashions. Parents don't want to break the bank. Believe it or not, it is possible to accomplish both. It just takes some planning, discipline and a little compromise.

    First: Figure out what she has.

    Go through your kid's closet together and sort out the clothes that don't fit. Notice I wrote, sort out the clothes that don't fit, not the ones she doesn't like anymore. If your child has grown out of most of her clothes, that's a bigger shopping priority than if the clothes fit and your child just doesn't like them anymore. This could cause some friction between you and your child, and there needs to be some compromise. Prioritize sorting out the clothes that are too big or small, but be willing to get rid of a few pieces that simply aren't trendy anymore.

    Next: Figure out what she needs.

    Once you've eliminated the Read More »from Back to School on a Budget
  • Health Insurance Plans to Restrict Choices

    By: Nick Fadoir,

    A new plan being tested in San Diego, New York and Chicago, will force some people to find new doctors, unless they want to foot the bill themselves.

    The country's biggest insurers - Aetna , Cigna , UnitedHealth Group , WellPoint - are responding to the new national health care law by reducing the networks of doctors and hospitals, in exchange for lower premiums to companies providing health insurance packages, according to The New York Times .

    As reported by the Times, companies may be able to reduce their premiums by 15 percent. Something that initially appealed to small businesses unquestionably appeals to the bigger ones as well.

    President Obama's repeated affirmations of choice in health care reform (mockingly nicknamed "Obamacare") can now be challenged by reform critics as the president's attempt to gain favor with the American public. In this case though, it's the insurance companies and not the government that's restricting

    Read More »from Health Insurance Plans to Restrict Choices
  • Insomniacs on a Budget: How to Fall Asleep without Breaking the Bank

    By: Nick Fadoir,

    Insomnia is a serious problem in America. In fact, 30 to 40 percent of adults say they have mild insomnia and 10 to 15 percent say they have chronic insomnia, according to the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health.

    If you were to add up all the comprehensive items associated with enabling sleep - mattresses, drugs, blackout blinds, white noise machines - you come away with a $23.7 billion industry, according to a 2008 study done by research firm Marketdata Enterprises .

    And if the recession is perhaps eating into your thoughts night after night, adding the weight of financial worries to an already overburdened mind, drugs and expensive mattresses are not the way to go about finding sleep.

    Here are some cost-effective ways to fight the sleep battle:

    Sleep Hygiene

    Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but reciting the do's and don'ts of sleep seem worthy of reiterating, such as avoiding

    Read More »from Insomniacs on a Budget: How to Fall Asleep without Breaking the Bank
  • Cut Cable TV and Slash Your Monthly Expenses

    Cut Cable and Slash Your Monthly ExpensesCut Cable and Slash Your Monthly Expenses

    By: Kathy Carter,

    Understand more about how to use your money wisely, plan your budget, and improve your credit score, and you'll see that some things drain your financial resources but give little in return.

    The average monthly cable subscription costs $71 - much more for the full range of high options. If you've ever channel-surfed your way through 1,000 programs only to find that there's nothing worth watching, maybe it's time to eliminate cable television to slash your monthly expenses.

    About one in eight Americans will drop cable television in 2010. Could you be one of them? Is there life after cable TV? Consider these points and then decide whether you're ready to take the plunge.

    Explore alternatives before you make the leap.

    Try alternatives for a while to judge whether they are good substitutes for that giant cable bill. Many networks have streaming versions of their programming available at no cost online. streams some programming for free, too. Read More »from Cut Cable TV and Slash Your Monthly Expenses
  • Should You Lease or Buy a Car?

    Lease a Car or Buy a Car?Lease a Car or Buy a Car?By: Stephanie Hamilton,

    In our economically uncertain times, people all across the country are cutting back on their spending, and trying to make smarter financial decisions. We are saving more and spending less. If you're in the market for a new car, you may be weighing the benefits and disadvantages of buying a car versus leasing one. The current prevailing opinion is that leasing is always bad and purchasing is always good. But that isn't necessarily true. Here are some things to consider:

    Do you need a new car?

    If you talk to people who regularly lease their cars, many of them will tell you that they do it because they like having a new car every couple of years. And while that would certainly be nice, the more important question is, "Is it necessary?"

    Notice we didn't ask if you want a new car, but if you need one. Most people would like to have a new car, but it isn't always a good economic decision. A new car depreciates significantly the moment you drive it off

    Read More »from Should You Lease or Buy a Car?
  • Travelers Beware, Hackers Are Everywhere

    By Nick Fadoir,

    A new study released this year may give you a little extra anxiety to mull over just as you're gearing up for that big summer vacation - hotels are not a safe spot for your credit card information.

    The New York Times reports that 38% of credit card hacking cases last year involved the hotel industry, according to a study done by Spiderlabs , which is part of the data-security consulting company Trustwave . Credit card hacking in the financial services industry stood at 19%, retailing at 14.2%, and restaurants and bars, once the leader, is now at 13%. Clearly the hotel industry sector is far more vulnerable.

    ABC News reported that Destination Hotels and Resorts, a luxury hotel chain in such cities as Washington D.C., Denver, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Houston, had an estimated 700 credit card numbers stolen, which totaled hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses. That's around $2,000 to $3,000 from each card.

    This is what

    Read More »from Travelers Beware, Hackers Are Everywhere
  • Top 10 Cities to Rent an Apartment in 2010

    Best Places to Rent an ApartmentBest Places to Rent an Apartment

    By: Ann-Marie Murphy,

    With news of falling home values and rock-bottom mortgage rates, the renters among us rarely get attention. But the fact is, for many Americans, renting is a better option than home ownership. And in some cases, the best places to rent are the worst places to own.

    For the 100 million Americans who rent their homes, finding the right apartment is about more than just monthly rental costs. It's about rent control and tenant-friendly laws, availability of rentals and cost compared to median income.

    The landlord software experts at Software Advice researched the 50 most populous cities in the United States and ranked how friendly they are to tenants based on the following criteria:

    • Cost per square foot of a 2-bedroom apartment;
    • Change in rent prices from 2009 to 2010;
    • Residential vacancy rate (10% is national average);
    • Rental cost as a percentage of median income;
    • Presence of tenant councils;
    • Tenant-friendly foreclosure
    Read More »from Top 10 Cities to Rent an Apartment in 2010
  • How to Build $1,000 in Savings - Painlessly!

    Saving Money: How to Save and How to Save MoreSaving Money: How to Save and How to Save More

    By: Kathy Carter,

    Maybe you already have a budget, a high credit score and a great mortgage rate. Still, it seems that money never goes as far as it should. If you want to start saving, consider the following:

    Know yourself.

    If money slips through your fingers like sand at the beach, understand the reasons why. You might be carrying a heavy debt load or recovering from an unexpected financial event like a major car repair or medical bill. On the other hand, you might just have a habit of buying what you want when you want it. Be honest with yourself as you examine your finances.

    Pay yourself first.

    This is a cliché because it works. If you save $20 from each weekly paycheck at 1% interest, you'll have over $1,045 a year from now. Building a cash reserve is important. Taking it off the top ensures greater success at reaching this goal. Start small if you must. You can always increase the amount you save with each paycheck.

    Put your money out of reach.

    When building Read More »from How to Build $1,000 in Savings - Painlessly!
  • Prepare for Christmas... Now

    Money Saving Tips for the HolidaysMoney Saving Tips for the HolidaysBy: Stephanie Hamilton,

    Yes, Christmas.

    No, we're not encouraging you to play "Deck the Halls" or unravel strings of colored lights. We are, however, encouraging you to start saving.

    Christmas is 5 ½ months away, but it's not too early to start saving. Planning your holiday spending in advance can take some of the stress out of Christmas, because you won't be worried about the credit card bill you know is coming in January. It takes a little time, and a little more discipline, but planning ahead will pay off. And we're going to help you do it.

    You can start your planning in one of two ways:

    1. Set a budget, regardless of the types of gifts you hope or expect to buy, or
    2. Make a list of presents you already know you want to purchase and determine how much they will cost.
    Set a Budget

    Once you have a budget, figure out whether you have any of it saved already. If you're in the habit of saving, you may already have enough set aside to cover your Christmas Read More »from Prepare for Christmas... Now


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