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Saturday, November 27, 2010

See if you have any unclaimed money that is due to you. I looked and I don't but you might.
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10 Energy-Efficient Moves to Do in a Weekend

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With winter approaching, why not give these 10 DIY weekend projects a try? They range in price from $10 to no more than $250 -- money you should easily recoup with improved efficiency or when you go to sell your home. You'll be saving cash and going green at the same time.
1. Replace Your Showerhead
Estimated Time: 15 minutes
Estimated Cost: $10 to $60
Install a new WaterSense-labeled showerhead, and you could save more than 2,300 gallons of water annually, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Using less hot water will cut your energy bills, and your local utilities may provide a rebate, too. EPA vouches that models labeled WaterSense still provide a satisfying shower.

Your showerhead is a water-waster if it fills a gallon bucket in 20 seconds. To find out how much water and money you could save in your home with water-saving improvements, use the calculator at

2. Add Aerators to Your Faucets
Estimated Time: About 5 minutes per faucet
Estimated Cost: $2 to $10
You can save another 500 gallons of water annually simply by replacing a standard aerator, which delivers more than 2.5 gallons per minute, with a low-flow one, with a flow of 0.5 to 1 gallon per minute. The low-flow aerators will cut water and energy usage while maintaining adequate water pressure. Unsure whether your faucets are water wasters? Put a quart container under the sink faucet and let 'er flow. If the container fills in less than five seconds, get busy.
In the kitchen you might want greater flow, say 2 to 4 gallons per minute, for filling a pot or the sink.
3. Install a Water-Efficient Toilet
Estimated Time: One hour
Estimated Cost: $200 or more
EPA estimates that a family of four that replaces a home's older toilets with WaterSense-labeled models will, on average, can save more than $90 annually on their water bill and $2,000 over the toilet's lifetime.
Concerned about performance? Read the rave reviews of the American Standard Cadet 3 high-efficiency toilet ($198) at Home Depot. For example, "... easy to install and flushes like no tomorrow. You hit that handle, your problems disappear." For how to install tips Bob Vila can help you. If you still don't feel comfortable, you can always hire a contractor for about $150.
4. Switch to CFLs
Estimated Time: 15 minutes
Estimated Cost: $2 to $15 for specialty bulbs
As the days get shorter, you'll keep on the lights longer. Now's a good time to switch from traditional incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). Energy-Star qualified CFLs use 75% less energy and last up to 10 times longer than incandescents.
Start with your five most frequently used fixtures and you can save more than $65 annually. Don't forget about your hardest-to-reach locations, too. Don't want to climb a ladder? Use the Bayco 11-foot Light Bulb Changer ($20).
5. Install a Programmable Thermostat
Estimated Time: A half hour
Estimated Cost: $25 to $250
With a programmable thermostat you can preset temperatures for your home that will automatically reduce heating and cooling when you don't need it as much. Energy Star says an average household can save about $180 annually on their energy bills by properly setting their programmable thermostat and maintaining those settings.
This is a low-voltage wiring installation that will involve 2 to 10 wires. If you don't feel comfortable following the instructions, a heating-and-air-conditioning contractor will probably charge you $75 to $150 for installation
6. Build or Install an Insulated Attic Hatch
Estimated Time: Several hours
Estimated Cost: $30 if DIY; $30 to $240 for ready-made models
If your attic entry is uninsulated your home gains heat in summer and loses it in winter, jacking up your energy bills.
You also have your choice of several, ready-made products. Check out: Battic Door Home Energy Conservation Products, The Energy Guardian Kits, the Attic Tent and the Draft Cap.
7. Stop Chimney Drafts
Estimated Time: 15 minutes
Estimated Cost: $55 for ready-made draftstopper
Even with the damper closed, in winter your home's heated air goes up the chimney and in summer hot outdoor air comes down. When you're not using it your fireplace, plug the flue with a chimney balloon like the Draftstopper from Battic Door Energy Conservation Products.
For a really cheap alternative, you can make one out of an old seat cushion or a pillow placed in a heavy plastic bag. Stuff the cushion into the flue and tie a long tail to it, so you don't forget about it the next time you make a fire.
8. Drain Sediment From Your Water Heater
Estimated Time: 15 minutes
Estimated Cost: $0
To ensure your water heater's performance and longevity, drain it annually to get rid of accumulated sediment -- sand, minerals or other non-soluble stuff that settles at the bottom of the tank. A good tip-off that you need to do this? The heater sounds like a coffee pot, making bubbling or burping noises.
The basic strategy: Attach a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the rank and run it outdoors or to a utility tub.
9. Replace Your Washing Machine Hoses
Estimated Time: 10 minutes
Estimated Cost: $10 to $20
Washing machine hoses don't last forever, regardless of the material they're made from -- reinforced rubber of stainless-steel reinforced (even those touted as "burst-proof"). A broken one can deluge your home with hundreds of gallons of water per hour, and your homeowners insurance probably won't cover the flood.
Check the hoses frequently for rusting, bulging, cracking, fraying and leaks -- signs that you should replace the hoses now. Otherwise, State Farm recommends that you replace them every three to five years. While you're at it, check the hoses leading to water heaters, dishwashers and refrigerator icemakers.
10. Add Insulating Window Treatments
Estimated Time: One hour for drapes; half hour per blind
Estimated Cost: $30 to $200 and up
You can increase your comfort and cut your energy bills this winter with thermal window coverings. Duette Architella honeycomb shades, by Hunter Douglas (from $202 per blind), is the only window covering that qualifies for the federal energy-efficiency tax credit of 30% of the cost, up to a maximum of $1,500, if you install them before December 31. The shade more than doubles the insulating value of a double-paned, low E window (when "inside mounted" and fully recessed within the window casement).
Other options: Country Curtains sells foam-backed thermal curtains and insulated liners that you can hang behind your existing curtains with heavy-duty double rods that hold curtain and liner.

Money Management Tips for Kids

by Christina on November 27, 2010 in Frugal Living

The following is a guest post by Marc Brown, a financial writer and author of the personal finance blog The Financial Times. He writes on a variety of topics ranging from debt settlement to bankruptcy.
Inculcating the habit of managing money among kids is an important practice for all the parents. If the kids are taught to handle money in the right way then they can avoid facing financial hardship while they attain youth. In this way they can achieve a secured future that would be untainted by debt. If the kids fail to manage their monetary responsibility then they would be going through a traumatizing experience of debts. Kids usually have high adaptive power therefore if they are given an appropriate training then they would be able to cope with monetary issues from a young age.
Essential money management tips for kids:
Teach kids to save money. The amount that is saved might be small but one needs to instill value and discipline by teaching the kids to save money. Parents have a moral responsibility to impart good education therefore start a savings account for your school going kids when they attain the age of 9 or 10. Allot pocket money for them and ask the kids to put away a stipulated amount by making a monthly target. This habit would help them to hoard a hefty amount by the time they reach adulthood.
Design a budget plan. It is not only essential to plan a budget but you need to enlighten the kids the importance of budgeting while financial management. Instruct them to write down the basic monthly expenses and the amount that has been allocated for a particular stuff. This would help them to trace the amount they managed to save from their pocket money after dealing with the monthly expenses. Try to maintain a document where the kids can pen down the price of the stuff that they intend to buy or have bought mentioning along with the source of income. The budget pattern would help to impart an excellent habit of spending a right amount as well as budgeting.
Give them a prepaid credit card. Giving the kids a prepaid credit card would be a good option as there would be less hassle. You can ask your credit card company who can help you by connecting your kids’ card with your existing card. This would help to keep a check on the amount the kids are spending as the monthly updates are available. The prepaid credit card has an advantage as you can deposit a fixed amount that you consider to be reasonable that they can afford to spend. You can get a general idea of the amount that has been spent. This would help to teach the kids a prudent way to use money.  Just be sure they can’t exceed the prepaid amount on the card.
Create a checking account. If you are keen to make your kids financially well aware then it would be ideal to help them to create a checking account. There might be special programs for kids that would be offered by banks. You need to teach the basic to the kids that include writing and maintaining a record of checks as well as verify the statements.
If you want to make the kids aware of the importance of managing money then you need to restrain yourself and avoid granting wishes that your darling son or daughter makes every time! You might come across innumerable problems while teaching your kids the trick of money management but there would be a noteworthy result at the end. This would pave the path for a debt-free life for your kids.

Friday, November 26, 2010

6 things to buy after Christmas

by Farnoosh Torabi for CBS
Plan to treat yourself this holiday season? Fifty-seven percent of shoppers will be making non-gift purchases for themselves this year, up 8 percent from 2009, according to the National Retail Federation. The average personal expenditure: $107.50.
-- Cheapest Days to Shop Online
-- 4 Splurges That Make Sense
-- Christmas List: 6 Smart Shopping Tips
-- Steer Clear of Store Credit Cards
-- 4 Things Not to Buy at Target
Want my advice? Wait until after the holidays to gift yourself. With so many of us returning gifts after the holidays and retailers looking to unload excess inventory from 2010, the best deals are often found after Christmas and into the New Year. Here are the top 6 items -- some to be expected, some not -- that you may want to put on your post-holiday shopping list.
1. Baking Ingredients During the holidays, supermarkets and discount stores load up on baking supplies to meet shoppers’ demands. Afterward - when you just can’t face another gingerbread man - these stores slash their prices out of necessity. “It’s a great time to stock up on chocolates, spices, flour, sugar, the basics,” says Freeman. The chocolate may be colored green and red, but it tastes the same!
2. Electronics
The Annual International Consumer Electronics Show runs the first week of January. That’s when companies roll out all their new models of computers, cameras, cell phones, printers … you name it. While early adapters salivate over the newest and latest tech gadgets, January is a great time for everyone else to buy the most recent models - which will, no doubt, be discounted heavily to make room for the new. ”If you don’t take advantage of the Christmas deals, don’t worry. After Christmas, everything’ll be on sale!” says Freeman. Last year Walmart offered shoppers a $50 gift card when they bought Microsoft Xbox 360 through January 1.
3. Winter Clothes & Accessories
There will be no shortage of discounts at department stores and clothing retailers - especially on hats, scarves, boots, winter coats and wool socks. Invest wisely by opting for non-trendy staples that will last you another winter or three.
4. Refurbished Goods
Expect stores’ “refurbished” bins - where returned appliances and gadgets get a 10 to 20% discount - to be well-stocked after the holidays, as people return unwanted gifts. One note of caution: Only buy refurbished items from reputable dealers that offer a manufacturer’s warranty. Sony, Dell, Amazon, Apple and Kitchen Aid are all in the refurbishing business.
5. Holiday Cards, Wrapping Paper, Ornaments
This one’s obvious. Expect discounts of 50 to 90%. A tip on the wrapping paper - go for a solid color, instead of a sheet with Christmas trees or dreidels. Gold, green, blue or red wrapping paper, while seasonal, can also be used throughout the year.
6. Calendars
Can you wait a few extra days to get organized? It’s almost a given that Borders and Barnes & Noble will have their 12-month calendars on sale the first weeks of January. I’ve spotted their buy-one-get-one-free or “All Calendars $1″ deals throughout the years, appearing right around New Year’s Day.
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Don’t Dispose of Your Money When Buying Diapers

by MoneyNing ·

Your average infant will wear over 7,000 diapers before toilet trained. That’s a lot of money you are essentially throwing away. If your goal is to save money on diapers, you really should consider using cloth diapers that you wash yourself. If, however, you just can’t imagine doing so, there are other money saving tips I can offer. But first things first, let’s start by looking at cloth.

The Basics of Cloth Diapers and the Cost

Cloth diapers have changed a lot in the last 20 years or so. Unlike in my infancy where you would pin on a strip of bird’s eye fabric and then cover it with plastic pants, today’s cloth diapers are pre-folded, shaped, and are covered with a variety of comfortable, colorful and adjustable wraps.
The initial outlay is greater than with disposable diapers. You will need at least three to four diaper covers per day, and you should have at least twice that number available so covers can be washed and dried. Good quality covers will cost about $20 each.
The diapers can be purchased by the dozen and you will probably go through eight to ten per day. Again, you want enough for at least two days. Prices vary but contoured diapers will cost more than straight ones which run about $20 per dozen. Different sizes can be purchased to accommodate a growing child.
In the end, you can expect to spend about $20-$50 per month while your child is in diapers. This will include your supplies, washing and depreciation. Of course, you can reuse your supplies when the next child comes along, lowering the cost further.

Disposable Diapers Don’t have to be Prohibitive

If you choose to go with disposable diapers, you don’t have to purchase the most expensive brand. Find the cheapest diaper that fits your child well. It really does vary from brand to brand, by the way. A baby with chubby legs will do well with one type of diaper, while one with slender legs will do better in another. Only experimenting will let you know what works for your child.
Once you settle upon a brand, sign up for the company newsletter and coupon e-mails. This may not save you much, but believe me, this is a time when every penny counts.
You can also purchase your selection of diapers in bulk if you search online. A number of websites offer this service and will deliver to your door, free. Generally speaking you will spend about $40-$70 per month on disposable diapers and supplies.
Unfortunately, one of the costs few people consider when using diapers is that of the environmental impact. It is estimated that disposable diapers account for between 1.5-2% of the total volume of landfills worldwide. Additionally, there are significant concerns involved with the waste material leaching into ground waters. These factors are mitigated to some degree with cloth diapering, but that option increases water usage.
There really is no optimal solution one way or another from the environmental perspective. Financially, you pay more for the convenience of disposable diapers, about $20 per month, adding up to $720 over 3 years. Only you can decide if that price is too much to pay for ease.
This is part of the How to Save Money on Everything ebook. Get your free copy by signing up for the free frugal newsletter.

Tip of the Day

Oven etiquette. Use energy saving appliances like microwaves, pressure cookers and toaster ovens instead of always using the oven or stove. You can buy ‘em cheap at yard sales. Turn off your electric burner three minutes before the rice or pasta recipe calls for: it’ll stay hot that long. Same with your oven. And if you are going to bake in the oven, why not throw in an extra potato or two for tomorrow’s casserole?

David Ning - Money Ning

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

So much to be thankful for today and always.  Thank you all for letting me do this and for supporting my obsession to save money.  I hope everyone has a safe, wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving.  And whatever you do.....put the leftovers to good use!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What Else To Do With That Extra Turkey? Turkey Tettrazini (of course!)

posted by Laurie (The Passionate Penny Pincher)
Here’s another great recipe to use up a little of your leftover turkey! My sister-in-law gave me this recipe years ago, and it’s nice because it makes lots of food, and is incredibly frugal (especially with your leftover turkey!) If you make the whole recipe, you’ll have one for dinner and one to store in your freezer for when you’re in a hurry, so you’ll have two dinners with one planning!
***This one really does make a LOT of food, so if you want just one casserole, you’ll need to “half” the recipe :)
Turkey (or Chicken) Tettrazini
  • 4 cups cooked turkey or chicken
  • 1 lb. box spaghetti noodles, cooked and drained
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 small green pepper chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb. grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Mix all above ingredients together, pour in 2 greased 9×13 casseroles.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes.

Looking for an easy way to store frozen casseroles? I saw a great idea that I’m planning to use over HERE. Line your casserole dish with foil, pour in your meal, completely cover with foil and freeze in pan. Then when your casserole is frozen you just pop it out of the baking dish and into a large plastic bag to store until you need it. This minimizes your freezer space and allows you to keep your baking dish. I love it!

Recycle yarn: Rip out a sweater and reuse it

ball of yarn
Have you ever had a thread of yarn dangle off a sweater and start to unravel the garment? If you have a perfectly good sweater in your closet that hasn't seen the light of day for a while, why not grab a tread and start to pull?
I've been going through my closets to free up precious storage space. My closet weeding dug up a pile of old wool sweaters and unfinished knitting projects. One of the sweaters had a hole peeking off the cuff. I started to pull, and soon found it immensely satisfying to keep ripping.
As I watched the yarn mount up, I realized I could reuse the yarn to knit a new sweater! Once the sweater was transformed back to its original material -- a skein of yarn -- I've been reusing the yarn to make small knitted projects like hats, socks, scarves, and bags.
How to rip out a sweater and reuse the yarn:
1. Unravel
Snip the bottom of the sweater. It will unravel as you pull. When you rip out a knitted garment, the yarn may be stretched out and kinky. The yarn will need to be wound around something. The easiest way to do this is to use a yarn swift or a wool winder. If you don't have either of those, tie an end to the side of a chair and wind the yarn around the chair as it unravels.
2. Wash
After you've enjoyed the liberating feeling of pulling apart a sweater, soak the sweater in cool water (don't agitate in washing machine or the yarn will felt) with a small amount of mild eco-detergent.
3. Dry
Hang the hank of yarn to drip-dry on a towel or clothes rack, or even place it over a showerhead (keep your floors dry). If the yarn is still kinky, when it is almost dry, wrap the yarn around a chair with a little tension.
4. Rewind
Wind yarn into balls, grab your needles, and start knitting!
Check this out: Here is one of the most incredible videos I have ever seen on the subject of unraveling yarn!
Ronnie Citron-Fink is a writer and educator. Ronnie regularly writes about sustainable living for online sites and magazines. Along with being the creator of, Ronnie has contributed to numerous books about green home design, DIY, children, and humor. Ronnie lives in the Hudson Valley of New York with her family.

Free Ideas for New Thanksgiving Traditions

Learn the meager beginnings of several popular Thanksgiving traditions and get some free ideas for new traditions you can start with your family this year!

The Holidays are coming, along with many family traditions. Traditions are a great way to bring families closer together and create lasting memories that youngsters cherish through adulthood. With Thanksgiving around the corner it’s fun to look at some famous traditions that surround this holiday, and some of the not so famous.

Eating Turkey: Americans eating turkey on Thanksgiving probably found it’s root in what we affectionately call the “First Thanksgiving”. The original Plymouth Colonists from England found the land of the Wampanoag full of wild turkey. Both the Colonists and the natives ate turkey often. Coupled with it’s wide availability, it is highly probable it was the main dish of the celebration of plenty.

Watching football: For the most part, the tradition of watching football on Thanksgiving can be traced back to 1880’s where New England high schools had large rivalry games between schools. All that fun lead to the triumph of big appetites and a renewed gratefulness for the large meal.

Parades: Gimbel’s Department store in Philadelphia claim the fame in starting Thanksgiving day parades. These type of parades have been happening all over the states as early as the 1920’s. As their popularity grows, the design and spectacle of these events get bigger every year. There are many different events like this all over the country, but the widest known is the Macy’s Day Parade in New York City.

Giving Thanks Around the Table: Many families make it a tradition to go around the dinner table while eating and name something they are grateful for. Answers vary due to age and what stage of life a person may be in. Regardless of the living situation, the most popular answers usually include family, friends, a home, and food of course!

While these Thanksgiving traditions are widely popular and celebrated all over the country, it’s important for families to make every holiday their own. Here are 2 fun ideas that you can use to start your own traditions.

Christmas Cards: Most people send their Christmas cards the day after Thanksgiving. When we start receiving those Hallmarks in the mail it’s a surefire sign the Santa is soon to follow. Instead of simply buying a box of Holiday cards from the store, why not use this as a great craft activity with the family? Spend a day out in nature picking up some of those beautiful leaves. Use these leaves between 2 piece of trace paper and color over with an unwrapped crayon for some leaf impressions. Write a note and sign for a wonderful homemade Christmas Card!

The Gratitude List: Every year ask your family to sit down and write something the are grateful for. Rewrite these things on a piece of pretty fall stationary next to the family member’s name and put in a dollar store frame to hang in your house for all to see. As children grow, their answers will get more mature. Adults will see a change in priorities. Don’t forget to write the year on the back of that stationary so you can look back later on and remember that Holiday.

If you’re single, married, have kids, or an empty-nester, it’s never too late to create a Thanksgiving tradition or two. Just remember to enjoy the change of season and give thanks for all your blessings!

How To Distinguish a Sale from a Rip-off

By: Stacy Johnson

Black Friday is nearly upon us, a time when adrenalin often overtakes common sense. Today Lifehacker published an article detailing the tricks unsavory merchants use to reel you in and steps you can take to fight back.

Tricks they use

  • Discounts based on inflated prices: This is something we talked about last year in Tips for Outlet Mall Shopping - it may say “50% Off!” but 50 percent off what price?
  • Rebates: This is something we discussed just last week in 5 Tips to Win the Rebate Game. If you don’t get the rebate, you didn’t save anything – and many people don’t jump through the required hoops to get one.
  • Liquidation Sales – Avoid them like the plague. They’re often put on by specialty liquidation companies that inflate original prices and otherwise suggest you’re getting a much better deal than you actually are.

Your Defenses

  • Make a list – If you get lured into an impulse buy, you have only the merchants word that it’s truly a good deal. Make a list and buy only what’s on it.
  • Research, research, research – The best (in fact the only) way to know if you’re getting a good deal is to research prices and comparison shop before you’re standing in a store staring at a 50% off tag.
  • Technology – If you have a smart phone, you have the ability to scan a bar-code and see if the deal you’re seeing is truly a deal, or if you can buy it elsewhere for less. For Android phones, Lifehacker recommends Milo for Android and Pic2Shop. ShopSavvy is an app for both iPhones and Androids, and any phone that gets the Internet can use Google Product Search for Mobile.
That’s just some of the tips Lifehacker put in their article – check out How to Figure Out When a Sale Isn’t Really a Sale
 "A Harvard study found that for every hour of television per week you watch, you spend, on average, an extra $200 a year." —Dave Ramsey

How To Prepare For Black Friday

Black Friday experts from around the Web share their tips and advice on everything you need to know before you get in line.
Black Fiday
Before you line up outside Best Buy in the dead of night, before you clip out coupon after coupon, even before you review our best of Black Friday deals, there’s prep work to be done for every retailer’s favorite day of the year. We got in touch with Black Friday experts and collected their thoughts on how best to ready yourself for consumer battle.

Don't Forget the Little Guys
It’s easy to get lured in by names like Target, Walmart, and Best Buy. These retailers pull out all the stops when it comes to Black Friday, with full page ads and national press. Their reputations precede them, and accordingly result in very, very long lines. Lines that tend to be filled with the most determined shoppers. If you’re thinking about snagging one of those 40-inch Westinghouse TVs at Target, Jon Vincent of Black says you will “need to get in line Wednesday night.”
But it’s not futile for those who want to take advantage of the one-day deals without missing the Thursday holiday; you just need to strategize. If you aren’t stuck on any of the big stores’ door busters, Vincent as well as Bfads‘ Michael Brim advises hitting up smaller office supply retailers like Office Depot and Office Max. Both will have worthwhile electronics discounted, like the Magellan Roadmate 3045 navigation system for $99.99 at Office Depot. Riddle mentioned a netbook for $179 at Radio Shack. The lines are short (sometimes non-existent), the staff less stressed, and there’s a decent array of tech gifts to choose from. Sam’s Club is even offering free breakfast to customers diligently waiting in the cold. You won’t find that at Target this year.
Consider Staying Home

More from 
Mike Riddle of laughs when asked if he’s standing in lines come November 26. One year, he stood in line all day at Best Buy for the store’s door buster TV discount, and once he got in, they were all out. Then he went home and bought it on Amazon.
Vincent echoes Riddle’s sentiment, “Ask yourself, ‘is it worth it?’” He doesn’t think so. Brim agrees that Amazon offers not only the same discounts, but the time and anguish you spend on Black Friday are eliminated. The site promises to match all discounts, and Riddle reports that the site will knock two cents off in-store prices. Add to this that Amazon will be running price cuts starting Monday the 22, its free shipping policy for purchases over $25, and no sales tax, and you’ve got yourself a pretty convincing argument to sit at home on Black Friday.
Dev Shapiro of disagrees. He will be among the discount devotees outside Best Buy as early as 6 a.m. Tuesday morning. Shapiro says until consumers are guaranteed that online shopping sites’ servers won’t crash or the items they want won’t sell out in minutes, it's best to “do it the old-fashioned way” – get in line.
On that note, here’s an insider’s tip: Anyone out there interested in Best Buy’s $99 Nook, it’s suspected Amazon will offer the Kindle for the same price starting Monday.

Do Your Homework

If you’re going to do Black Friday, you better do it right. The first step is doing your research. Shapiro’s advice is to search a coupon site, retailer’s site, and individual product’s sites. He points out that ads will show you how much you’re saving on an item, but not how much it’s actually worth. “A store might be overstocked on a product, maybe they just need to clear out the warehouse, avoid getting taxed on something that’s been sitting there. So they throw it out for Black Friday.”
It’s also important to take details into account. Shapiro pointed out that this year’s Target Westinghouse TV is certainly a steal at $298, but buyers should note that it only has one HDMI port. So you have to decide whether you connect your Blu-ray or DVD player, cable box, or video game console. Or, you need to factor in the cost of another hookup, which runs between $100 and $200.
And do this research in advance. Don’t even think about leisurely pawing through the coupon pages on Thanksgiving – get your product’s specs and serial number down, know how many a store will have available, and have an image as well. will organize this list for you, if the idea of putting it all together yourself is a little overwhelming.
Timing is Everything

If your heart is set on one of the big name retailers, timing is crucial. This year’s Black Friday build up is primarily focused on Walmart, Target, and Best Buy, with Kmart and Staples also getting some attention. While all our experts agree it varies depending on the size of your town and what items you want, the general consensus on when to line up for doorbuster items is sometime between Wednesday evening and early Thursday afternoon.
Also, realize that you are limiting yourself to one store. Sure, there are the super humans, existing on adrenaline, caffeine, and a great ability to push through crowds, that can hit up multiple large retailers. But they are far and few between. Most of us have to choose one and commit.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Four Ways to Save Money on Laundry Detergent

by Crystal on March 29, 2010

How do you get good deals on laundry detergent? I have found the occasional good deal, but this seems like the one product I struggle
to really save on. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you! -A reader

1) Don’t Be Brand Dependent

One of the easiest ways to save money on laundry detergent is to stop being brand dependent and start buying whatever brand you can get on a great sale with a coupon.
My target price for laundry detergent is $2 for a 48-load bottle or larger. By watching for sales on the store-brand at Dillon’s or by pairing a coupon with a great sale on a name-brand, I rarely pay more than that for a bottle of laundry detergent. Aldi and Costco also have good everyday prices on their store brands if you don’t want to mess with watching sales and clipping coupons.
If you can afford it in your grocery budget, stock up when the price is low so that you don’t ever pay retail for laundry detergent again!

2) Use Half of the Recommended Amount

I’m not sure who decided you have to use a full capful of laundy detergent in order to run a load of laundry, but I’m not buying it. In fact, I pretty much always use half the recommended amount–and I think our clothes are plenty clean.
Maybe this is going to sound over-the-top frugal, but it was a trick my mom taught me: when the bottle has almost been used up, add some water, put the lid back on, and shake it up to get the last remains of laundry detergent cleaned out of the bottle. I can usually stretch the bottle to last for another load just by doing this.

3) Only Wash Dirty Clothes

One of the best ways to cut down on your laundry detergent bill–and your water and electric bill for that matter!–is to just stop washing clothes which aren’t truly dirty. We’re not always 100% perfect about this (especially since my 2-year-old has discovered the joy of changing her clothes multiple times throughout the day!), but we try to re-wear clothes whenever we can.
I can often make a pair of jeans last for two to three days without needing to be washed. I just spot-clean them and re-wear them. (I know some people think that is terribly unsanitary, but seriously, who made up the rule that you have to wear an entirely new outfit every single day? If you’re bathing everyday, I really don’t see what’s the big deal. It works for us and it saves us time and money.)

4) Make Your Own

Truth be told, I tried making my own laundry detergent once and it was a total fail. The goopy, baby-spit-up-like solution was not only icky, it did a horrible job of getting our clothes clean. So I gave up that idea and decided to go back to buying detergent on sale with coupons.
However, I have friends who think homemade laundry detergent is the best thing ever. And when I’ve seen the cost breakdowns, I would wholeheartedly agree that it’s very inexpensive to make your own.
Tammy has a great tutorial on making your own laundry detergent. Or, if you’re a visual learner, check out The Simple Dollar’s step-by-step video below:

How do you save money on laundry detergent? I’d love to hear your ideas! (And anyone want to “fess up and tell me that you also re-wear your clothes?!)
photo credit: Pixel Drip

Some Not-So-Obvious Perks to Not Eating Out

by Christina on November 23, 2010 ·in Frugal Living
No Eating Out ChallengeThe following is a guest post by Kate Willson.
Although I did not specifically participate in the No Eating Out Challenge this November, I had actually created my own personal no-restaurants challenge earlier this year. In January, I had just started my first job after graduating from college and was enjoying the independence of living completely on my own without my parents’ help.
After a few months, I quickly realized that dining out several times a week on my entry-level salary was simply not feasible. An avid fan of restaurants, I wondered to myself if it would be possible to go an entire month without once eating out. So I tried it, and I was surprisingly successful. However, just because the month was over, I didn’t want to revert back to my old habits. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned from the No Eating Out Challenge that have continued to instruct me as I navigate the world of living frugally.

1. If you eat out less often and consider restaurant dining a treat, you’ll enjoy the experience more.
I never realized this before I completed the challenge, but restaurant eating had become something of a reflex action for me. As such, I found that I no longer truly enjoyed the experience; even though I was eating out several times a week, I was going to the same restaurants, ordering the same food, and just eating without thinking. However, after completing the challenge, I ate out maybe once a week, and because it had become a less frequent occurrence, I made sure to explore new places, try new things, and just savor the whole process more.

2. Having dinner at home is more effective in strengthening personal relationships than eating out.
While dining out with friends and family can be a great way to socialize, it doesn’t last as long as having dinner at home. In Europe, where service is pretty slow and there’s an emphasis on multiple courses, the dining out experience is by its very nature more social, but not so in America. When you make dinner at home, however, the atmosphere is more relaxed, homey, and better suited to conversation.
3. Knowing exactly what you’re putting into your mouth by dining at home is a great feeling. Although I never thought about it before limiting my dining out experiences, when you eat out, you have so little knowledge and control of what you’re putting in your mouth. Most restaurant meals have tons of added salt and God knows what else. When you make dinner at home, you have a more intimate experience with your food because you purchased the ingredients, prepared them, and cooked them. Seen in this light, eating at home forces you to be more conscious about what foods you select, and you end up just appreciating food more.
While the No Eating Out Challenge may be tough, hang in there. When it’s over with, hopefully you will realize some of the things I did. It will be an experience that not only ends up saving you more money, but it makes you think more deeply about your food, your social ties, and your body.
This guest post is contributed by Kate Willson, who writes on the topics of top online colleges.  
72% of couples under 30 (and in debt) say discussions on household finances always lead to arguments and 43% of them keep some or all of "their debt" seperate from their spouse. ~Mint Study

5 Ways Everyone Can Make More Money

by David Ning on 23 November 2010
If someone asks you whether you'd like to make more money, I bet most of you would say yes. The follow-up question would be "Why aren't you making plans to make more?" When a specific method to make money is mentioned, people usually make a quick decision as to whether it's feasible. Some people can quickly adapt to the method and start making money, but what if you are the type who keeps saying no? Are you actually ready to make more money? To help you figure this out, let's look at the handful of ways people are cashing in, and see if you are willing to do what it takes.

1. Start a Business

Many people find their riches from a company that they started, but opening for business doesn't always mean looking for capital from investors and trying to materialize an idea that may take years. An entrepreneur who mows his neighbor's grass runs a business, and the lady who consults on makeup for people's weddings has a business too. I started with no funding, and it's grown to an enterprise that supports multiple people. You can start small too.

2. Change Jobs

Loyalty is cherished in any company. There's no doubt about it, but there are very few success stories of a person who moved up the ranks of the corporate ladder working for only one company. For most people, the big break (in other words, the huge increase in salary) really only occurs when they change positions to a totally different company (or at least department). Do you want to make more money? Perhaps you should dust off your resume and start trying to land interviews. People are paid to contribute, and one of the best ways to improve a business is to hire someone from a totally different company who can inject fresh ideas. Who knows? You might become the star at your new job just because you adapted what you already know from your old company to the new culture.

3. Ask Your Boss

If you like sticking with the same company, then ask your boss how you can earn more. Let him know, respectfully of course, that you'd like to earn more money and see if the pair of you can work out a plan. You will want to have specific goals with a reasonable timeline so when review time comes, you can be factual about your progress.

4. Get a Second Job

Using more hours of your day to make more money is tough work, but it's probably the quickest way to earn more bucks. I would argue that you should find part-time work that can grow into a better source of income than your primary job, because when you work two jobs, the first job will usually suffer. Examples include a small business you are trying to start or a different career that you think is more promising. Either way, don't take this decision lightly and weigh the pros and cons.

5. Start Saving, and Enjoy Passive Income

Once you have amassed a small fortune, you will see the benefit of saving as your passive income grows without much intervention. Dividends, interest payments, and appreciation are mainly why so many people can seem to live without doing much work. There are ups and downs, but if you can stay the course, the long-term picture is usually pretty.
These five methods are how people generally earn more. I bet you already knew all these right? But if you always thought you wanted to make more money and haven't yet, re-read all of the above and honestly ask yourself whether you are willing to do what it takes. Are you really ready? If you are, here are 15 more specific ways to earn more

Money Saving Tip

  Try your hardest to always buy on sale.  Paying regular price for most items is just not necessary, if you plan ahead and watch for sales and specials at all of your local stores.  

a.  Check your weekly newspaper fliers for announced sales and specials, and look for the store’s sales flier and unannounced sales while in the store.  

b.  Take advantage of buy-one-get-one-free offers for items you really need.  Some stores do not even make you purchase two of the item to get the discount.  Ask the store about their policy.

c.  Look on the higher and lower shelves for specials and less expensive products, where they are often located, rather than on the eye-level shelves where most of the higher-priced products are stocked.

d.  Make sure to look on the “outside” lanes of the grocery store, particularly at the front of the store against the front wall.  Often there are unannounced specials offered with some real savings.

e.  Get a rain check for any sale item you need that is out of stock.  If the rain check indicates the number that you can buy in the future at the sale price, make sure that the store fills out the rain check with the maximum number you want to buy.  Most stores are very liberal with this policy

Monday, November 22, 2010

Frugal Ways to Save at Least $100 a Month

More fromImagine spending just $20 a year -- or less -- for yearly telephone service. Or, perhaps you'd be interested in shaving 15 percent off your monthly utility bills. Two frugal experts say you can do it.

Everyone looks for simple ways to save, especially in today's tumultuous economy. Bankrate asked two frugal bloggers to share their thoughts on some nearly effortless ways to hang on to your hard-earned green.
If you take their advice to heart, you'll likely save at least $100 a month around the house.
Rethink Your Phone Service
Fed up with expensive telephone bills? Jonni McCoy, author of the Miserly Moms website, recommends switching to an alternative phone service like magicJack or Skype.
Such services allow you to make local and long-distance calls for a fraction of the price of traditional phone service. For instance, magicJack customers can get phone service for as little as $19.95 a year, while Skype calls are free to other Skype users.
"These are good alternatives to (traditional) phone service, and they include long distance, so no extra card is needed," McCoy says.


Customers nervous about dropping their traditional phone carrier have other options for saving money.
For example, consider canceling long-distance service from your phone carrier and using calling cards instead, says Susan Palmquist, creator of money blog The Budget Smart Girl's Guide to the Universe.
Need a second phone line? In this case, a service like magicJack works well, because it's "much cheaper than adding a second line to your existing phone account," Palmquist says.
When it comes to your monthly cell phone bill, save money by cutting down on your minutes and switching to a more basic plan. Palmquist recommends switching to a pay-as-you-go cell phone.
Cut Down on Electricity
Each month, utility bills silently drain a little more cash from your wallet, preventing you from building a sizable emergency fund or retirement nest egg.
There are several ways to trim these bills. Three quick and painless ways to save include: switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs (which are more energy-efficient than standard light bulbs) lowering the temperature on your hot water heater (130 degrees Fahrenheit is enough to kill germs) and drying your clothing on a clothesline or rack whenever possible.
McCoy and Palmquist also recommend signing up for any incentive or rebate programs offered by the local utility company.
With these programs, you typically agree to allow the power company to briefly shut off certain appliances when energy demand is particularly high. In return, you get a credit on your monthly bill.
For example, customers who participate in Florida Power & Light's On Call Savings Program allow FPL to install a small device on their water heater and air conditioner compressor. This allows the utility company to periodically borrow electricity for 15 minutes or so.
Palmquist -- who lives in Minneapolis and gets her power from Xcel Energy -- does this and gets a 15 percent discount on her bills.
Conserve Water


Are you drowning in monthly water bills? Palmquist and McCoy recommend money-saving options such as washing all clothing in cold water.
"I use cold water to wash clothes, and recently read that using the delicate cycle also saves water, too," Palmquist says.
In some cases, saving cash actually goes hand in hand with superior performance, Palmquist says.
"We installed a low-flow shower head in the main bathroom and find it not only saves water, but the flow is better than the old one," she says.
Of course, another "no-brainer" way to save is simply to use appliances less frequently. Wait until you have a full load before running the washing machine, dryer or dishwasher.
Don't overlook water-saving tips for outside the home. Palmquist plans to invest in a rain barrel for outside watering next year. Meanwhile, McCoy recommends making changes to landscaping "so there is less lawn to water."
Bundle or Drop Cable and Internet
McCoy suggests saving money by bundling cable and Internet services. Palmquist agrees, and recently switched to an "economy package" for her TV service.
However, Palmquist says it's important to look before you leap into bundling.
"Sometimes it's more expensive and they can lock you into a two-year contract, so check out everything first," she says.
If you're really gung-ho about saving, simply drop cable altogether. Perhaps you can watch your favorite TV shows for free on an Internet site such as
Or, maybe it's time to simply give up those expensive TV habits and think about the priorities that really matter to you.
"My main advice is to think about wants and needs," Palmquist says. "Many of us think something's a necessity when really it's just a want."
This article is part of a series related to being Financially Fit

Leftover Turkey Crescent Bake

Leftover Turkey Crescent Bake
This easy casserole is so delicious, you may find yourself making turkey 'n all the trimmings just to get the leftovers to make it!
Prep Time: 5 Min
Total Time: 30 Min
Makes: 6
cups prepared stuffing
1 1/2
cups cubed cooked turkey
cup turkey gravy
can (8 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated crescent dinner rolls or 1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® Crescent Recipe Creations® refrigerated seamless dough sheet
cup cranberry sauce
  • In 3-quart saucepan, mix stuffing, turkey and gravy. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Spoon into ungreased 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish.
  • Separate or cut dough into 4 long rectangles (if using crescent rolls, press perforations to seal). Place rectangles over stuffing, leaving space between rectangles for steam to escape.
  • Bake at 375°F 20 to 25 minutes. Top with cranberry sauce
Minimize waste.One of the easiest ways to save money is to make sure you’re not wasting food. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw out more than 25 percent of the food we prepare. And a study at the University of Arizona that tracked food use and waste from production to the table to the landfill estimated that the average American family of four throws out $590 worth of food each year. So we need to do a better job of using leftovers and learn what to do with food before it’s past its peak. Here are 20 creative ways to use up leftovers, which can help reduce waste.
Savings: $590 per year. (Estimated value of the food an average American household of four wastes in a year.)

  • by The Editors of EatingWell Magazine
  • Sunday, November 21, 2010

    Money Saving Tip

        When a recipe calls for vegetables, see if less expensive frozen vegetables may suffice.  Once a recipe is cooked, especially if you are planning on freezing it, the difference between fresh and frozen may be negligible, and there may be savings to be found.  In addition, taking vegetables out of the freezer may be just a bit easier and less expensive than that extra trip to the store.

    10 Things To Buy Now And Stock Up

     Sarah Rae Trover:

    This is the cheapest they will be all year!

    1. Butter - It might as well be gold in our kitchen, but at prices hovering around $4 a box for most of the year, it's just ridiculous to not purchase it on sale during the holidays. You'll see the price go down at major chain grocers to around the $1.99 mark and since it freezes nicely, you're all set. Don't be afraid to just ask for a case. Your local dairy stocker will thank you.
    2. Crackers - Although you can absolutely make crackers on your own, when it comes to entertaining, it might not be at the top of your list if they're just put out for a snack instead of a large feature of the meal. Look for sales on snack crackers or saltines; they have been known to bottom out between $0.75-$1.00 per box!
    3. Poultry - Even if you have your fair share of turkey over the next several months, that doesn't mean it stopped being an inexpensive food choice during the next few months. Chicken and those cute little Cornish hens will be on sale with turkey, and although prices are great the week before a holiday, the weeks following will see even better price points. Stores need to empty their freezers to make room for new product and you'll see things go down to $.40/lb! Again, freeze for winter stews and quick meals.
    4. Sugar - Although sugar is a pantry baking staple, it's not really all that cheap. Look for it to take $1-$2 price cut, with brown sugar and powdered sugar taking the largest price dip. (Sale prices often mean that customers are limited to one or two per purchase, but there's no shame in making 10 purchases in a row. Just add a pack of gum or another grocery item to each one and your sad-eyed cashier might be willing to combine them all into one transaction!)
    5. Frozen Vegetables - While most of us are busy planning to roast trays of winter vegetables, it doesn't mean that the bagged industry isn't vying for your dollar as well. Through the year you'll see sale prices as low as $1.00/bag, but through the holidays that number can drop by a solid quarter or two! We like to stock up on frozen peas (which are nearly as good as fresh, depending on the brand) and spinach for quick stir-fries.
    6. Bacon - Usually hanging around between $2.50-$6.00 price range, bacon has been known to drop to $1.50 a pack. Since it freezes like a champ, it's a great item to stock up on to have around for more than just breakfast.
    7. Oil - Although we don't really go through a great deal of oil, since we've started making most of our cupcakes vegan (they're really that good) we go through more than we used to. Aside from that, frying up a batch of homemade onion rings or buffalo wings is always a plus, but the oil to fry it in can be more expensive than the actual food itself! Check grocery stores as well as hardware stores (where they sell turkey fryers) for ridiculously great deals on oil. Get a gallon for $20 instead of $30-35!
    8. Nuts - Our favorite on-the-go source of protein that packs some serious snack potential is nuts. They're rather pricey most other times through the year, but you can find them at reduced prices at bulk retailers and grocery stores. Look for containers of "holiday nut varieties" and keep them in a cool dark place in your pantry away from light or heat and they'll easily last an entire year.
    9. Plastics, Foils, Papers, Storage Containers - Although we strive to be as eco-friendly in the kitchen as time and money allows, many kitchen staples such as plastic bags or wrap and parchment paper or aluminum foil (even reusable containers!) all go on sale for super low prices. If that's something you household uses, stocking up now will save you cash throughout the entire year!
    10. Cupcake Liners - Although we're still fans of cutting our own liners from parchment paper, that might seem like one step too many for some. Cupcake liners normally hover around the $2.75-$3.00 range and although that's ok for a random muffin session, if you'll be baking cupcakes for a large engagement such as a wedding or birthday blow out, buying them now can save you pennies that could otherwise be spent elsewhere!
    Additionally: Along with this list you'll find most things in the baking aisle on sale at some point in the season and although boxed pudding or cake mixes aren't as tasty as the real thing, it never hurts to have one or two floating around your pantry. Also, things like dried fruits hop on sale as do chocolate chips and other cookie mix-ins!