The Home 

Hire a mover who won’t break the bank

February 23, 2016
Let’s face it, sometimes you have to pay professionals to get your household goods to your next residence.

You simply may not have the time, ability or inclination to do it yourself.

No matter what the reason, don’t think you have to pay top dollar just because you’ve contracted a professional mover. There are ways to cut your costs.

If you can plan the date of your move, experts say that mid-month sometime between September and April will be the least expensive times.

Summer is very popular for moving because the kids are out of school so because of supply and demand movers can get the best rates then.

Also, if at all possible schedule the mover ahead of time. Some charge more for last minute bookings. has some other tips to not only save you money, but also get your belongings to their destination unscathed.
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 Frugal Living 

9 ways to save on pet care costs


February 13, 2016
Expenses for pampered pups and coddled cats add up quickly.

The best food for our finicky four-legged friends racks up the dollar signs at the grocery store checkout counter. And a trip to one of the pet franchises can easily blow your budget.

If they get sick, the veterinarian bills skyrocket.

But we adore these guys. They greet us when we come home, and shower us with unconditional love. Some even crawl into our lap while we watch TV. We tend to want what’s best for them.

It is possible to take good care of Lassie and Garfield without breaking the bank. Here’s how.

Spay or neuter.

Besides being the correct thing to do to cut down on the unwanted animal population, you thwart all kinds of behaviors that can set you back financially.

After our collie was neutered, he quit “marking” his territory throughout the house saving on cleaning expenses like extra rolls of paper towels, disinfectant and carpet cleaning.

Pets who haven’t been spayed or neutered are more aggressive towards other dogs and cats, leaving you open to vet bills for someone else’s companion.
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 Personal Improvement 

Learn a second language on the cheap


February 3, 2016
One of my relatives believed the Russians planned to take over the United States in the 1950’s, so she decided to learn their language.

She took all the classes offered and then to further her skill, she volunteered at a local Russian community center.

That worked for her. And she learned to make the best piroshky.

Now, though the fear of another country running our government has diminished, speaking and understanding Spanish, Korean, Japanese or any other language benefits us in many ways.

For me, knowing Spanish helps me communicate with many of my service providers.

When you’re in the market to change careers or better your current one, a second language improves your job prospects.

Studies show that while learning another tongue, you develop better mental health and stave off dementia. The process helps you get comfortable with other cultures. And when you’re fluent, you feel successful.

If you want to learn another language, you don’t have to buy expensive books, audio tapes or take costly classes. Try some or all of these methods instead.
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 Bank Deals 

Whether you’re a novice saver or seasoned investor, here’s where to find winter’s best CD rates

January 24, 2016
Ever since the Federal Reserve lowered interest rates in 2008 to lessen the blow of the Great Recession, it’s been hard to earn much on your savings.

The Fed finally began raising rates last month. But since banks are slow to react, and more substantial hikes by the Fed will be rolled out slowly over the next several years, better yields are still ahead of us.

So where should you put your hard-earned cash in the meantime?

With the typical savings account paying a pathetic 0.10% APY, it’s definitely worth your time to find higher-paying options, such as certificates of deposit.

Nationally available bank CDs are paying as much as 2.30% APY this winter, while credit unions and community banks are offering local deals that pay nearly 3% APY.

There are also a number of strategies for smart CD investing, like starting out with small, regular investments or choosing a CD that allows you to earn a higher return if rates go up.

Let’s begin with the banks offering the best nationally available deals on three of the most popular CD terms: 1 year, 2 years and 5 years.
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New calculator helps answer a big question:

When should you start collecting Social Security?

January 14, 2016
Quick. At what age should you start collecting Social Security?

It’s not an easy question to answer, right?

Fortunately, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently put out a calculator that helps you decide.

The tool allows you to explore how your claiming age impacts your retirement benefits. It also offers customized tips and provides next steps – somewhat of a guide for claiming Social Security.

Of course, when to claim Social Security is one of the biggest decisions many of us will make about retirement.

Indeed, claiming benefits is a one-time thing. Once you claim, there’s no turning back. That makes it crucial to carefully, and accurately, weigh your options.

“We want consumers to use our tool to know and understand what it means to claim at their full retirement age vs. several years before and several years after,” Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, told USA Today.
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Start the year by getting cash back on your shopping

January 4, 2016
When you’ve grown accustomed to hearing and trusting that free lunches don’t exist, you look at any reward system with a suspicious eye.

The Internet, and most specifically online shopping, has changed that for the better.

Websites offer a multitude of ways to earn money, like taking surveys, linking to a site as an affiliate and offering you cash back or coupons for purchases.

I believe nobody should ever pay full price, so I love the companies that focus on bargains.

Cash-back sites help you save money.

What’s the catch, you ask?

There really isn’t one.

You choose a site and register on it, which should be free.

Then start shopping at your favorite retailer, assuming that store is on their list, or looking for a specific item.

These websites receive a commission for getting customers to merchants’ websites, and that’s where they get the money to give back to you.

Let’s see how each of the following cash-back sites work so you can get started shopping.
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 Personal Improvement 

9 tricks to get a jump on 2016 money resolutions

Most people have some sort of financial resolutions at the start of every New Year, whether it’s to be debt-free or save more.

There’s something about having a clean slate when you flip to a new calendar year that can be quite motivating.

Here are some ways to evaluate your spending and put more cash back in your pocket – and you should start now, while you’re in the throes of holiday shopping.

Trick 1. Create a “fun fund” to cover small outings or extras that come up throughout the year.

You know how you’ve had to pass on that holiday brunch or happy hour because you’re flat broke this time of year?

You can find room in your budget next time if you start socking away as little as $5 a week now.

Physically put it in a jar, or set up an automated contribution to a separate savings account. I used this approach in 2015, and I saved up enough to enjoy a last-minute weekend getaway over the summer.

I’ve since replenished the fund and dip into it here and there for everything from salon appointments to dinner dates with my husband.
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 The Home 

I’ve got to stop watching HGTV … It creates unrealistic expectations that make me hate my home

Want to enjoy your home more? Stop watching HGTV

I’ve been an HGTV addict for years. From House Hunters to Property Virgins and Rehab Addict to Property Brothers, I couldn’t get enough.

For the last few months, though, episodes of what used to be my favorite shows have been piling up on my DVR. When I try to watch an episode, I find myself shutting it off after a few minutes.

What’s happened?

I’ve realized that the shows I thought were light, easy-to-digest morsels that don’t cause me any stress — in contrast to the shows my husband enjoys, like Walking Dead and American Horror Story — are actually making me unhappy.

Every time I see a beautifully designed renovation on Property Brothers, I get depressed that my home doesn’t look like that and probably never will.

When I watch buyers tour turn-of-the-century craftsman homes with exquisite woodwork and coffered ceilings, my mass-produced box home seems so boring.

What’s more, these buyers are usually in their late 20s to early 30s, and they’re already getting their dream homes.
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