Taxes
4 Signs You’re About to Get a Tax Surprise
By admin | |
At tax time, it’s often hard to predict how much you’ll owe or receive in a tax refund without actually doing your taxes. But there are some telltale red flags……Continue reading4 Signs You’re About to Get a Tax Surprise
How to Simplify Your Holiday Celebration and Save Your Sanity
By admin | |

Does this sound familiar? You start the holiday season feeling festive and full of good cheer. You have big plans and ambitions to make everything merry and bright for you and your family. But as your to-do list grows, so does your stress level. The next thing you know, you just want to settle in for a long winter's nap and not come out again until spring.

Even before I became a mom, I wanted nothing more than to give my family the gift of the most magical holiday season possible. First, I had to orchestrate amazing decorations. Then I would not only make festive treats but plan elaborate five-course meals. And let's not forget shopping 'til I dropped so I could shower my friends and family with impeccably wrapped, showstopping gifts!

No pressure.

I spent so much time and energy trying to pull off the perfect Christmas that, come December 25, I was run so ragged I hoped to never see another candy cane for the rest of my life. I would collapse after the last gift was unwrapped. Fa la la la la la la la ... ugh. 

Each year I vowed to be smarter with my time and efforts, but I still wound up mindlessly repeating this vicious cycle. That is, until I was expecting my fifth child. Seven months pregnant, I ended up with pneumonia and a cracked rib. As miserable as I was, it was the year I received the best gift ever—the doctor ordered bed rest!

I had to rely on my husband and the grandparents to take over so that our kids would still have a Christmas. By no means did they do everything the way I would’ve done it. (Actually, they did nothing the way I would've done it!) But by letting go of the control, I watched a wonderful holiday unfold. I finally wasn’t in the trenches driving myself crazy trying to create a perfect holiday. Instead, I was living in the moment.

I knew right then that I was finally done with all the holiday hype.

De-stress this holiday season by deciding what's important

I still enjoy the magic of the holiday season, but now I approach this time of year with much less fuss.

If you've realized that spending time with loved ones is more important than pulling off the "perfect" holiday, think about what you can cut back on this year.

  • No time to stage a photo card of your family this year? New Year’s cards are festive, too! Bonus: They might even stand out more if they arrive after the rush of holiday cards.
  • Is it really necessary to spend time and money on gifts for teachers, bus drivers, teacher assistants, and the school nurse this holiday season? Have your child write a heartfelt card to these special folks instead.
  • Does the Elf on the Shelf really have to make a pre-Thanksgiving appearance? Maybe he could show up the week before Christmas. Less work, same fun!
  • Can you simplify your holiday décor by cutting back on outdoor lighting or limiting your decorating to just one special room in your home? You don't have to be the neighborhood Griswolds to have a happy holiday.
  • Which holiday invites do you really want to accept? Politely decline invitations for parties you're not really interested in or just don't have time for.

Center your time and energy more on the things you actually love doing and less on those that feel like a chore. You’ll automatically simplify this hectic time of year.

Tap into your holiday senses

I’ve always been a Christmas junkie! Whether it's enjoying all the lights and bling of the season, soaking in the enchanting sounds and delicious tastes that surround us, or decking the halls—count me in. Being mindful of the elements that make this time of year so special can deliver an entirely new experience for both you and your loved ones.

Instead of rushing from one errand to the next, tap into your holiday senses so you can be more present this season. Here are some festive, low-key ideas.

Bake with your kids. Find an afternoon where you can roll out some sugar cookies, decorate a gingerbread house, make homemade fudge, or dabble with delicious peppermint bark. Notice how amazing your house smells while these goodies are baking. Enjoy an ice cold glass of milk as you nibble on a delightful iced gingerbread man. Make an extra dozen or so for your neighbor and leave them as a surprise on their front porch. Savor the experience. Check out these yummy holiday recipes on Food Network.

Get crafty. Watch your child swell with pride when they create a special masterpiece for Grandma and Grandpa. Head over to Pinterest for hundreds of easy, jolly ideas. In our house, our favorite DIY holiday décor is paper snowflakes. Even my college kids love to make these every year. We sprinkle a little glitter on them and decorate our windows to create a real winter wonderland feel.

Play holiday tunes. Get in the spirit by playing festive music first thing in the morning. When your kids get up, they can jingle all the way to the breakfast table. Sing along with Frosty the Snowman as you carpool to practice. Let holiday music play quietly in the background on Christmas Eve as you prepare for the excitement of Christmas Day.

Check out holiday light displays. Take a brisk early evening walk through your neighborhood and enjoy the beautiful glow of holiday lights. When you get home, make some creamy hot cocoa and talk about which scenes were your favorite. Or drive through your community to take in the festive displays. Soaking in the holiday bling can illuminate positive energy and it’s a low-cost way to spend some time together as a family.

Watch holiday classics. Pick a cozy afternoon or evening and binge-watch your favorite holiday movies together. Don’t forget the popcorn!

RELATED: 7 Ways to Save Money During the Holiday Season

Focus on tradition

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is celebrating the traditions we’ve created over the years. There’s something comforting about practicing a tried and true ritual that belongs to your family.

My parents established a fun tradition—Christmas Eve PJs! We opened them before bed each year.

When I had my own family, we continued the tradition. But I incorporated a theme each year like footed pajamas, Star Wars, Polar Express, or our favorite sports teams. This year we’re getting reindeer pajamas, and yes, they will come with antlers!

The beauty of a traditions is that you can start them any time. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

  • Make a gingerbread house
  • Cut your own fresh tree
  • Have a Secret Santa exchange
  • Donate gifts to those less fortunate
  • Go caroling
  • Have a grab bag of both practical and gag gifts
  • Explore another culture’s tradition
  • Have a potluck holiday celebration with friends
  • Decorate your tree with colorful, handmade paper chains
  • Have a family game night
  • Create a romantic, special quiet time for you and your spouse to exchange gifts—just the two of you

RELATED: 6 Ways to Create Family Traditions

Give Experiences

The average American will spend $700 on holiday gifts and goodies this year, totaling more than $465 billion nationwide. Yikes!

Don’t get me wrong, I love watching my kids open their gifts on Christmas morning, particularly when the gift is some pricey item I know they weren't expecting. But gifts are not what the holiday season is all about.

Experiences are a great alternative to material gifts. We started doing this years ago, and my kids look forward to receiving things like concert or sporting event tickets, a family weekend away, or private lessons more than a new electronic gadget. One year we gave them bedroom makeovers and let them pick out their color schemes!

Rely on Mother Nature

I recently attended a wellness workshop and one of the speakers focused on one of the most neglected, free assets available—mother nature.

If you live in a climate where winter weather is getting into high gear, it may be tempting to limit your time with nature to climbing in and out of the car. But winter is a wonderful time to get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air. Embrace a walk in the new-fallen snow, take your kids to an outdoor ice-skating rink, or hike on a nature trail and take in the frosty landscape. A walk on the beach in the winter can also be invigorating. With fewer people around, you can have some quality time with your own thoughts.

Reconnect with yourself

Most parents focus on making things fun for their kids throughout the holidays. The decorating, baking, shopping, and constant running around seem to be for everyone but ourselves. Instead of waiting until post-holiday exhaustion sets in, use the holiday season to reconnect with yourself.

Finding quiet pockets of time throughout the week may seem like a laughable concept, but if you put your mind to it, you’d be surprised at the different ways you can sneak some me-time into your schedule.

Give meditation a try. Listen to an inspirational podcast or captivating audiobook that takes your mind away from the daily annoyances you have little control over. This well-spent me-time will help you to relax and get into the true spirit of the season. You may also learn something new!

Continue readingHow to Simplify Your Holiday Celebration and Save Your Sanity
How to Save Money on Your Heating Bill
By admin | |

How to Save Money on Your Heating Bill

Radiator Hack

If you use radiator heat, make them work harder without spending an extra cent. Wrap a very large piece of corrugated cardboard in aluminum foil (shiny side out), and place it behind your free-standing radiator. The foil will reflect the heat, and make the room warmer.

Stuffed Animal Draft Dodgers

Do your kids have lots of stuffed animals? This winter, put those they play with less often to good use: Line them up in front of their bedroom windows to prevent drafts from coming in underneath.

See Also: 5 Ways to Take Care of Your Home During Winter

Keep It Humid

It’s true that it’s not the heat that makes you feel warm, it’s the humidity. Humid air feels warmer than dry air, so in the winter, instead of cranking the heat, run a humidifier. This allows you to turn down the heat, save energy, and still feel comfortable. Live, leafy plants also help raise humidity levels.

A Ceiling Fan Can Keep You Warm Too

Don’t let your fan go to waste just because it’s no longer warm outside. To stay toasty during the frigid days of winter, hit the reverse switch to push hot air down into your room.

Plug Up Leaks

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a well sealed home can be up to 20 percent more energy efficient. Most leaks occur in the basement or attic—look where you feel a draft or around wiring holes, plumbing vents, ducts, and basement rim joints. You’ll be able to seal lots of leaks with a simple caulking gun, but for instructions on how to plug larger holes, check out this guide at EnergyStar.gov.

Lock Your Windows

In the winter, don’t just keep windows closed, make sure they’re locked for the tightest possible seal. This could greatly reduce drafts.

Winterize Your Door

If you have a sliding glass door that’s rarely used during the winter, seal the top, bottom, and sides with duct tape to keep cold air from coming in. Or, cut the sleeve off an old sweater or sweatshirt, then fill it with uncooked rice and knot the ends. Place in front of drafty doors and the rice will absorb the cold!

See also: Your Fall/Winter Home Maintenance Checklist

Dust Buster

Make sure to vacuum your heating and air conditioning vents regularly. When they get caked up with dust your furnace or air conditioner has to work much harder! For the best energy efficiency, make sure to keep them dust-free.

Close Some Vents

Close the heating and air-conditioning vents in rooms in your home you don’t frequently use, like a guest room or laundry room. If your vents don’t have closures, simply seal them off with duct tape.

Slow and Steady with the Thermostat

When it’s time to turn on the heat, be patient. Your house won’t heat up any faster if you crank the thermostat way up, but you are likely to forget to turn it down, which can be a huge energy waster.

Follow us on Facebook for our Who Knew? Tip of the Day! 

Image courtesy of Who Knew?

Continue readingHow to Save Money on Your Heating Bill
Are Social Security Disability Benefits Taxable?
By admin | |

Social Security benefits, including disability benefits, can help provide a supplemental source of income to people who are eligible to receive them. If you’re receiving disability benefits from Social Security, you might be wondering whether you’ll owe taxes on the … Continue reading →

The post Are Social Security Disability Benefits Taxable? appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

Continue readingAre Social Security Disability Benefits Taxable?
How to Open a Stuck Window or Sliding Door
By admin | |

How to Open a Stuck Window

Don’t pull a muscle trying to shove open a stuck heavy window! You may remember that opening a stuck window was one of our many uses for used candles. (You can also use a bar of soap). Get the candle or soap and rub up the metal tracks above the window. This should help lubricate it and make the window slide more easily. In fact, windows will open and close more easily in general if you occasionally rub a bar of soap across the track.

How to Close a Window that’s Stuck Open

If the window is stuck open instead of closed, it’s the same thing, but in reverse: just grease up the track below the window so you can get it shut.

Window Sealed Shut?

If heat or humidity has sealed your window shut, here’s how to get it open again: Hold a block of wood up against the frame, and tap it gently a few times with a hammer. Then move to a different place on the frame until you’ve tapped all the around the edges. You should now be able to easily pull it up.

Un-Stick a Sliding Door

If your sliding glass door is sticking, simply spray the tracks with furniture polish. It will remove dirt and give the tracks the lubrication they need to keep the door moving smoothly.

For home repair advice from all across the internet, check out our Home Repair Hints board on Pinterest. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Continue readingHow to Open a Stuck Window or Sliding Door
How to Spend Less on Clothes (and Build a Better Wardrobe)
By admin | |

Clothes are a basic necessity that also express your style—but building a good wardrobe can be expensive. According to Statisticbrain.com, the average American spends about $120 a month on clothes. No matter if you’re way above or below that number, the challenge is to get the most out of every piece that you bring home.

In this article I’ll give men and women eight smart tips to spend less on clothes and build a better wardrobe at the same time. You’ll learn how to create a wardrobe strategy, know what’s a good deal, how to get deeper discounts, and how to care for what you buy the right way so it lasts longer.

Tips to Spend Less on Clothes and Build a Better Wardrobe

Use these tips to build a great wardrobe for less and protect your purchases so you can enjoy them for years:

Tip #1: Set a “one in, one out” rule

A few years ago I noticed that I kept running out of clothes hangers and my big walk-in closet kept getting more and more crammed. I was adding new items but rarely purging old ones and it was finally catching up with me.

So I created a rule that every time I buy something new, something similar has to go. For instance, if I buy a new pair of shoes, I better be ready to sacrifice an old pair that I haven’t worn in a while. Or if I buy a new sweater, I need to throw one out that doesn’t look so great anymore.

If you want to be aggressive about paring down your wardrobe to essentials, get rid of 2 items for every new one that you bring home. This strategy will really make you reevaluate what you like and wear often versus what’s just taking up space in your closet.

If you truly have a gap in your wardrobe—like no black boots or running shoes—that’s one thing. But in general we tend to buy more and more of what we already have. And the more stuff that’s in your closet or drawers, the easier it is to forget about the good pieces you already have because they get buried.

Decide why you need another top or pair of jeans before you buy it. Is it because what you already have doesn’t fit, is out of style, or just looks shabby? Be clear about why a piece in your wardrobe isn’t working and make the decision to donate it to Goodwill or throw it away before or immediately after you replace it.

Be clear about why a piece in your wardrobe isn’t working and make the decision to donate it to Goodwill or throw it away before or immediately after you replace it.

Tip #2: Create a clothing baseline

While I can’t tell you the exact number of garments you should have in your wardrobe, I recommend that you create a clothing baseline. This is the total number of items in your closet.

I settled on my hanging wardrobe baseline when I got rid of all my mismatched hangers and invested in Huggable Hangers. These amazing hangers are thin so they save space, and have a curved shaped with a non-slip, velvety surface. This prevents the shoulders of tops from getting stretched out and keeps clothes from falling off.

If you saw the 2015 movie Joy, starring Jennifer Lawrence, it tells the story of Joy Mangano who invented Huggable Hangers and many other products that sold millions on the Home Shopping Network and QVC.

These hangers make my closet look more uniform and organized, but they also keep me honest. If you only have 100 special hangers, then you can’t exceed that amount of hanging garments.

For items you typically fold, like jeans, sweaters, or t-shirts, decide how many is reasonable and stick to it. If 10 pairs of jeans is more than enough, make a deal with yourself to throw away any unused pair before expanding your wardrobe to 11 pairs.

The baseline and “one in, one out” strategy helps me stay away from mindlessly buying sale items. Even if something is at a rock-bottom price, I remember that I’ll have to give something up in order to bring it into my wardrobe. 


Tip #3: Buy quality basics

I’m a big believer in buying better quality basics. Think about the foundational pieces you wear over and over, like black pants, black shoes, suits, long-sleeved white shirts, or a black sweater.

These wardrobe staples won’t last or look good for very long if they’re cheaply made. A pair of shoes that are trendy, but not well-made or don’t fit well, won’t give you any satisfaction or value and will probably gather dust in your closet.

It’s better to buy trendy items cheaply because they’ll be out of style very soon and just end up taking up space in your closet. So consider buying fewer trends and investing a little more in your basics so they last longer and prevent you from having to constantly replace cheaper versions. That saves money, time, and hassle in the long run.

Consider buying fewer trends and investing a little more in your basics so they last longer and prevent you from having to constantly replace cheaper versions. 

Tip #4: Buy clothes that fit now

Never buy clothes that don’t fit you perfectly right now. I always feel like I should be a few pounds lighter than I am. But I know that I’ll feel and look better in clothes that are the right size when I need them.

If you’re in the middle of a big weight loss program or are starting a new exercise program to lose weight or build muscle, I don’t recommend buying key clothing pieces. Wait until your weight and body size stabilizes before investing a lot in your wardrobe and purging items that don’t fit anymore.

Tip #5: Never pay full price

One way to afford better quality clothes is to never pay full price. There are so many sales at top retailers and ways to get discounts online, paying full price should be the exception and not the rule.

If you find a wardrobe staple or something you need right away for a special occasion that’s a perfect fit, color, and style, then I might consider buying it. But it’s likely that you could find the same item or something similar on sale.

If you’re in a local store, don’t be shy about politely asking for a discount if an item isn’t perfect. Any damage that you or a cleaner could easily correct—like a loose or missing button or a stain that probably isn’t permanent—is fair game for at least a 10% reduction.

When I try on clothes in a store or see a handbag that I love, I typically wait and buy it online instead. Not only does that give me time to think about whether I really need the item, but it typically allows me to buy it for less.

When you start your online shopping at free sites like Ebates and Giving Assistant you get cash back. Ebates sends you a check or makes a deposit in your PayPal account for your rewards every quarter. Discounts vary depending on the retailer, so find all the major stores that sell the item you want, and then purchase it from the store that offers the best cash back offer.

Another way to avoid paying full price is to buy out of season. You probably know that if you buy a heavy coat at the beginning of winter, you’ll likely pay much more for it than at the beginning of spring. That’s because season-specific clothes—like bathing suits, summer shorts, and winter coats—hit the shelves about a month early and then are likely to go on sale about halfway through the season.

Retailers have to turn over merchandise frequently in order to make room for the next batch of incoming items. So keep the big picture of the retail industry in mind and resist the urge to pay full price for the coming season. Instead, buy quality pieces after they’re marked down, but that you can still wear.

I know that it can feel strange to buy a wool sweater when it’s hot outside or sandals when there’s still snow on the ground, but filling gaps in your wardrobe in off seasons and using online discounts are the best ways to build a quality wardrobe for less.


Tip #6: Buy easy-care clothes

The more clothing you can buy that doesn’t require expensive, professional cleaning, the better. In fact, many clothes that say “dry clean” can actually be washed at home, if you’re willing to do it carefully.

The more clothing you can buy that doesn’t require expensive, professional cleaning, the better.

I routinely wash wool sweaters, silk tops, and linen items in a cold delicate cycle with a gentle liquid detergent, like Woolite. Never put them in the dryer; let them dry naturally.

You can speed up the process by laying out an item out on a bath towel and then rolling it up, pressing moisture out as you go. Then unroll the towel and reshape the garment on a dry towel or hang up lighter pieces where they can air dry.

Some fabrics, like silk and linen will need to be ironed after they’re dry. Items that I really love are tops that have the look and feel of silk, but are polyester. They can be tossed in a cold, delicate cycle, hung up to dry, and don’t even need an iron to look perfect.

Now, certain types of clothes, like suits and party dresses, must be dry cleaned in order maintain a crisp look and to avoid shrinking. Leave woven wool fabrics or any clothing with delicate stitching, beading, or sequins, to the professionals.

Tip #7: Extend time between cleanings

No matter if you send out clothes to a cleaner or wash them yourself, remember that cleaning stresses fabric and can cause clothes to wear out faster. So forget the idea that you need to wash everything you wear every time you wear it. Extend the time between washes by spot cleaning pants, jeans, shirts, jackets, and dresses.

One trick I use for jackets and blazers is to turn them inside out, spray on a fabric refresher, and let them naturally air out. This works perfectly when the item is basically clean, but just has a little armpit odor.

Febreze is the best known fabric deodorizer and it’s not just for couches and carpets—it works great on clothes. Lysol and Dreft also make fabric refreshers and there are eco-friendly products like Biokleen and Eco Breeze.

Woolite has a product called Dry Cleaner’s Secret, which is an at home dry cleaner for delicate items, like silk, linen, and cashmere that works in the dryer. I’ve never tried it, but it claims to remove odors, stains, and body oils in about 20 minutes.

Another tip is to wear an undershirt or a basic, thin cotton t-shirt under shirts and sweaters. Men usually do this, but women should do it more often when possible.

A short sleeve shirt that covers your armpits is better than a tank or camisole so you really protect clothes from sweat stains and smells. You wash the t-shirt, but may be able to skip washing the garment you wore over it.

See also: Cool Tips to Save Money on Utility Bills


Tip #8: Take care of what you buy

There are many ways to make your clothes last longer and still look great. In addition to washing them less, you need to launder them the right way. Follow laundry basics, of course, like washing like colors together and not over-stuffing the machine.

When you get a stain, the trick to making it disappear is to treat it as quickly as possible with a stain stick, spray, or liquid stain remover. Clorox 2 is one of my favorite detergents because even when I’m sure that a stain has ruined something, if I follow the instructions, it always comes out.

Another tip is to keep clothes with elastic or spandex—like underwear, athletic shorts, yoga pants, and bras—away from dryer heat. Let them tumble on a low setting for a short period of time or lay them out to air dry. Using the dryer less protects your clothes and saves money on your utility bill!

Also make sure that any item with a zipper—like pants, skirts, and hoodies—are completely zipped up before they go in the washing machine and dryer. Zipper teeth can easily pull and destroy other garments in the same load.

If an item that you love does show damage or wear, have it repaired by a professional. Missing buttons, a small run in a sweater, or a worn heel are easy to fix and cost less than buying a new item. I’ve had quality boots re-heeled and re-soled many times and they come back looking like new.

Missing buttons, a small run in a sweater, or a worn heel are easy to fix and cost less than buying a new item. 

How you store clothes is also really important for making them last longer. With dry cleaning, remove the plastic bags before putting them in your closet.

Cleaning chemicals can cause fabrics to yellow and weaken over time, so let your dry cleaning air out. For long-term storage for suits and dresses, choose garment bags made from natural fibers like cotton or canvas that can breathe easily.

How to Build a Better Wardrobe

Building a better wardrobe is about picking pieces that reflect your personal style, are appropriate for the type of work you do, and complement your lifestyle when you’re not working. You’ll get the most bang for your buck when you choose items that can be worn interchangeably with everything else.

Clothes don’t last forever—even when you care for them meticulously. As you need to replace old pieces, it’s a great opportunity to invest in affordable basics and update your look at the same time.

Get More Money Girl!

Want to know the best financial and productivity tools that I use and recommend to save time and money? Click here to check out 40+ tools I recommend!

To connect on social media, you’ll find Money Girl on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Also, if you’re not already subscribed to the Money Girl podcast on iTunes or the Stitcher app, both are free and make sure that you’ll get each new weekly episode as soon as it’s published on the web. The show is also on the Spotify mobile app!

Click here to subscribe to the weekly Money Girl audio podcast—it’s FREE!

There’s a huge archive of past articles and podcasts if you type in what you want to learn about in the search bar at the top of the page. Here are all the many places you can connect with me, learn more about personal finance, and ask your money question:

  • Dominate Your Dollars - Laura's private Facebook Group
  • Money Girl on Facebook
  • Laura on Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • Money Girl podcast on iTunes (it’s free to subscribe!)
  • Money Girl on the Stitcher app (also free to subscribe!)
  • Email: LauraDAdams.com/contact

Click here to sign up for the free Money Girl Newsletter!

Download FREE chapters of Money Girl’s Smart Moves to Grow Rich

To learn about how to get out of debt, save money, and build wealth, get a copy of my award-winning book Money Girl’s Smart Moves to Grow Rich. It tells you what you need to know about money without bogging you down with what you don’t. It’s available at your favorite bookstore as a paperback or e-book. Click here to download 2 FREE book chapters now!

Hanging in a Row image courtesy of Shutterstock

Continue readingHow to Spend Less on Clothes (and Build a Better Wardrobe)
Reducing Capital Gains Tax on a Rental Property
By admin | |

Owning a rental property can help you to grow wealth long-term and diversify your income streams. Receiving regular rental income can help supplement withdrawals you might make from a 401(k) or an individual retirement account (IRA) in retirement or give you an … Continue reading →

The post Reducing Capital Gains Tax on a Rental Property appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

Continue readingReducing Capital Gains Tax on a Rental Property
Money-Saving Hacks to Beat the System
By admin | |

Money-Saving Hacks to Beat the SystemDavid Pogue is one of the world's bestselling how-to authors with over 3 million books in print. He has 120 titles in the Missing Manual series, a collection of funny computer books, and he wrote or co-wrote seven books in the "for Dummies" series.

David is a former New York Times columnist, the tech critic for Yahoo Finance, and he writes a monthly column for Scientific American. He's worked in TV as the host of science shows on PBS's "NOVA" and as a correspondent for "CBS Sunday Morning" since 2002. He's the recipient of prestigious awards like multiple Emmys, Webbys, and a Loeb for journalism.

In this interview. we talk about his most recent title Pogue’s Basics: Money – Essential Tips and Shortcuts (That No One Bothers to Tell You) About Beating the System. It covers 150 simple tips and tricks to stop leaving money on the table every day. You can pick up a copy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, or Booksamillion.

[Listen to the interview using the audio player in the upper right sidebar of this page or on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify]

Free Resource: Laura's Recommended Tools—use them to earn more, save more, and accomplish more with your money!

You should never buy anything but refurbished computers. - David Pogue

I had a great time chatting with David about some of my favorite money-saving tips from the book. Here are some of the topics we discuss:

  • The right way to purchase computers and laptops
  • Whether you should pay for extended product warranties
  • Tips to save money on insurance
  • How to get free money from Amazon programs
  • Places to turn unused gift cards into cash at sites like CardCash or Cardpool
  • How to leverage credit cards for cash back

No matter how much or little money you have, you'll take away easy tips and shortcuts to outsmart retailers, leverage savings programs, and keep more of your hard-earned money!

Get More Money Girl!

Want to know the best financial and productivity tools that I use and recommend to save time and money? Click here to check out 40+ tools I recommend!

To connect on social media, you’ll find Money Girl on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Also, if you’re not already subscribed to the Money Girl podcast on iTunes or the Stitcher app, both are free and make sure that you’ll get each new weekly episode as soon as it’s published on the web. The show is also on the Spotify mobile app!

Click here to subscribe to the weekly Money Girl audio podcast—it’s FREE!

There’s a huge archive of past articles and podcasts if you type in what you want to learn about in the search bar at the top of the page. Here are all the many places you can connect with me, learn more about personal finance, and ask your money question:

  • Dominate Your Dollars - Laura's private Facebook Group
  • Money Girl on Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • Money Girl podcast on iTunes (it’s free to subscribe!)
  • Money Girl on the Stitcher app (also free to subscribe!)
  • Email: LauraDAdams.com/contact

Click here to sign up for the free Money Girl Newsletter!

Download FREE chapters of Money Girl’s Smart Moves to Grow Rich

To learn about how to get out of debt, save money, and build wealth, get a copy of my award-winning book Money Girl’s Smart Moves to Grow Rich. It tells you what you need to know about money without bogging you down with what you don’t. It’s available at your favorite bookstore as a paperback or e-book. Click here to download 2 FREE book chapters now!

Hands Taking Out Money image courtesy of Shutterstock

Continue readingMoney-Saving Hacks to Beat the System
Cool Tips to Save Money on Utility Bills
By admin | |

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=317891591& data-cke-saved-src=lb-12645926 src=lb-12645926Bruce Lubin is the co-author of the best-selling Who Knew? series of household hints books, with his wife Jeanne. They’ve written more than a dozen books that have sold more than 5 million copies.

You may have seen Bruce sharing his clever and money-saving tips on national TV, like the Today Show and the Hallmark Channel. Now, Bruce and Jeanne are also hosting a brand new podcast on the Quick and Dirty Tips network, which goes by the same name—Who Knew?. 

[Listen to the interview using the audio player in the upper right sidebar of this page or on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify; for Spotify, just search the app for "Money Girl."]

Free Resource: Laura's Recommended Tools—use them to earn more, save more, and accomplish more with your money!

Some of the cool tips Bruce and I talk about in this interview include:

  • Knowing which appliances cost you the most and how to use less energy 
  • A clever tip to cut the time it takes to dry your clothes by 25%
  • How to hack your water bills
  • Tips to cut back your air conditioning usage but still stay cool
  • How to keep your kitchen from overheating during the summer
  • Ways to get your entire family on board to save energy—especially teenagers

See also: How to Save Money on Your Electricity Bill

Cool Tips to Save Money on Utility Bills

No matter if you own a large house or rent a cozy apartment, this interview will help you cut the cost of energy and water and save money on your utility bills. Here are a few great tips from our interview:

With today’s high efficiency dishwashers and washing machines, the expense is really heating the water. So wash everything as cold as you can. 

Q: What are the appliances that suck the most energy? What are some tips to use less energy with them?


Bruce: Dishwashers, but it’s really the dry cycle, which uses steam. De-select the Dry Cycle, or, if you have an older dishwasher, just open the door at the beginning of the dry cycle.

Dryers too—use a large towel to reduce drying time. Check your dryer’s screen: the lint from the screen in your dryer may not be enough to make sure it is running as efficiently as possible. The fabric softener used in dryer sheets can get caught in the mesh, even if you can’t see it. To be sure you’re completely cleaning the screen, remove it and clean it with warm, soapy water and a brush. Leave it out to dry completely before placing back in your dryer.

Q: What about saving water?

Bruce: Back to dishwashers—you should actually wash pots and pans by hand (usually)—you save up so much room and you don’t have to do Pots ‘n’ Pans mode.

With today’s high efficiency dishwashers and washing machines, the expense is really heating the water. So wash everything as cold as you can. You also may want to lower the temp you keep your hot water heater at. We recommend 120º F, which is plenty hot, even though many water heaters come set at 140º.

Other than that, low-flow showerheads and other faucets are a must! Definitely worth the price. Just ask at the hardware store.

Q: What about teenagers taking long showers? 

Bruce: Give teens an incentive to take shorter showers—5 minutes added to their curfew for every 1 minute they shave of their shower time. (Or 5 minutes more of time with their phone at the end of the night, etc.)

Q: What about tips for saving money on air conditioning?

Bruce: Keep blinds closed during the day – people probably know that! But also, close all closet doors, and seal off rooms you aren’t using. Use duct tape if your vents don’t close. And, make sure your windows and doors seal properly—that can save you big.

Q: Any other tips for saving energy?

Bruce: Believe it or not, MOST electric companies charge you more for electricity during peak times, which are usually between 4 and 8pm. Google the name of your electric company and “peak pricing” to see if yours does. If possible, keep your AC off during these times, and do more laundry and other electricity-intensive tasks during non-peak times.   

Get More Money Girl!

Want to know the best financial and productivity tools that I use and recommend to save time and money? Click here to check out 40+ tools I recommend!

To connect on social media, you’ll find Money Girl on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Also, if you’re not already subscribed to the Money Girl podcast on iTunes or the Stitcher app, both are free and make sure that you’ll get each new weekly episode as soon as it’s published on the web.

Click here to subscribe to the weekly Money Girl audio podcast—it’s FREE!

There’s a huge archive of past articles and podcasts if you type in what you want to learn about in the search bar at the top of the page. Here are all the many places you can connect with me, learn more about personal finance, and ask your money question:

  • Dominate Your Dollars - Laura's private Facebook Group
  • Money Girl on Facebook
  • Laura on Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • Money Girl podcast on iTunes (it’s free to subscribe!)
  • Money Girl on the Stitcher app (also free to subscribe!)
  • Email: LauraDAdams.com/contact

Click here to sign up for the free Money Girl Newsletter!

Download FREE chapters of Money Girl’s Smart Moves to Grow Rich

To learn about how to get out of debt, save money, and build wealth, get a copy of my award-winning book Money Girl’s Smart Moves to Grow Rich. It tells you what you need to know about money without bogging you down with what you don’t. It’s available at your favorite bookstore as a paperback or e-book. Click here to download 2 FREE book chapters now!

Bills at Home image courtesy of Shutterstock

Continue readingCool Tips to Save Money on Utility Bills
A Comprehensive Guide to 2020 Tax Credits
By admin | |

Every year, people’s lives change in ways that affect their taxes. They may start a higher education program or have a child, and others take on elderly parents as dependents. These situations can change their eligibility for tax credits. In … Continue reading →

The post A Comprehensive Guide to 2020 Tax Credits appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

Continue readingA Comprehensive Guide to 2020 Tax Credits