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5 Steps to Prepare Your Car for the Winter

by Melissa Batai on December 11, 2012

Winter CarMost of us in the United States have felt a definite chill in the air the last few days. We are into December, which means if you haven’t, you should prepare your car for winter and include an emergency kit, just in case. Of course, you don’t hope for the worst, but it is always best to prepare for it, and with millions taking to the road for holiday travel, visiting family, and taking vacations, it pays to be prepared.

You might remember a few years ago when hundreds of cars were stranded in Chicago on Lakeshore Drive during the 2010 Chicago blizzard. Sure, the storm was intensifying, but those people were just trying to make the short drive home from work. They had no idea they would be stranded for hours and that some of the cars would run out of gas, making it impossible to run the heat.

Here are some steps you may want to take to avoid that fate and protect yourself and your family this winter while driving:

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5 Ways to Host a Frugal Holiday Dinner

by Melissa Batai on December 10, 2012

Holiday Dinner PlateThe holiday season is a time of celebrating, and eating, together.  Christmas offers an excellent opportunity to share time with family and friends, but if you aren’t careful, hosting the meal can cost a bundle. However, there are simple things you can do now, a few weeks before Christmas, to make sure you can offer a delicious, yet frugal meal.

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Organic Food: What Do the Labels Really Mean?

by Melissa Batai on December 06, 2012

Produce MarketOrganic food is a large industry that is growing every year. According to TIME, “Americans spent some $16.7 billion on organic food last year, up from $13.8 billion in 2005–and sales are expected to rise by 20% this year.”

If you buy organic foods, you know that the price is often substantially higher than the price for conventionally grown foods. Before you put down your hard earned cash to buy organic foods, make sure you understand what you are actually buying. Here is a guide to organic labeling.

According to The Huffington Post, “organic fruits and vegetables must be grown without the use of: synthetically created pesticides; synthetically created chemical fertilizers; sewage sludge; genetic engineering which appears to introduce novel proteins, allergens, viruses, and toxins into crops; irradiation.”

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Generate Some Cash for the Holidays by Selling “Stuff” on eBay and Craigslist

by Melissa Batai on December 04, 2012

InternetThe stores have been marketing Christmas to us since at least October, though they really ramp up their efforts in November and December. They have to. Many retailers “depend on the last two months of the year for up to 40 percent of their annual sales” (

While consumer shopping is expected to be up 4.1% in November and December, that is slower growth than the previous two years ( There are many reasons why shoppers may be holding tight to their purse strings this year, including the looming fiscal cliff.

However, if you have a basement (and closet and bedroom) full of stuff, economic uncertainty can help you pad your bottom line because more and more shoppers are looking for a good deal.

Where do they look? Often on Craigslist and eBay.

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5 Low Cost Winter Activities to Get in Shape

by Melissa Batai on December 03, 2012

WalkingSure, we are all enjoying the holiday indulgences now, but in just a few short weeks, we will all have that moment when we face the scale. And the number probably won’t be one that we like. As soon as the holiday revelry is over, millions of people vow to get in shape for the new year. The fitness industry loves this because it means people will be joining the gym in droves and working out–for a few weeks.

This year, don’t be one of those who joins the gym only to go a few times. There are several low cost activities you can do this winter to shed the pounds and get in shape that don’t cost $50 or more a month.

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How to Avoid Buying a Flood Damaged Car

by Melissa Batai on November 29, 2012

Almost Flooded CarHurricane Sandy ravaged the Northeast, and many people are still recovering. Thousands are now homeless, and even those who are able to continue living in their homes may have to get new vehicles because their vehicles were flooded and destroyed in the storm. According to The Huffington Post, “Six of the leading eight automakers in terms of U.S. sales said on Wednesday that at least 16,000 new vehicles were damaged, and the lion’s share of those will have to be scrapped. Counting cars in consumer hands increases the total loss estimated to at least 266,000 vehicles.”

Those cars that are totaled because of flooding are supposed to get a new title called a salvage title so they can be sold to the junkyard for scrap metal. However, that is, unfortunately, not always the case. Often, those cars are refurbished and put back into circulation. A flood damaged car will have many problems, and you don’t want to be the unlucky person who bought it.

Here are ways you can determine if the used car you are considering buying has been damaged by a flood:

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5 Money Discussions to Have Before You Marry

by Melissa Batai on November 28, 2012

Wedding KissMoney troubles are the leading cause of divorce, and yet people may spend more time discussing what wedding invitations to buy and what venue to choose for their reception rather than how they will handle their money after marriage. Your wedding is only one day, yes, an important day, but only one day. Your marriage will last for years and, hopefully, decades. Take the time to discuss how you will handle money before you take the plunge.

If you don’t know where to start, consider tackling these issues:

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Steps to Take After a Natural Disaster to Make Sure Your Claim Is Paid

by Melissa Batai on November 19, 2012

Natural DisasterWhile making it through a natural disaster such as Hurricane Sandy seems difficult enough, often the aftermath and restoring your home to the way it used to be can take months and be an exercise in frustration and delays. If you live on the East Coast and have damage to your home thanks to Hurricane Sandy, here are some steps you can take to make sure your claim gets paid in a timely manner (which in itself is difficult considering the level of destruction).

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