11 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Winter, Conserve Energy, and Save Money

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The changing of seasons is the perfect time to check your home’s energy efficiency, especially when much of the country will be facing cold temperatures in a few months (except for those lucky few living in warmer climates).

As temperatures cool, now is the time to make some updates to your home to save energy and efficiency and avoid costly repairs.

Here are 11 ways to prepare your home for winter and conserve energy:

Clean the gutters

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Is a Part-Time Job in High School Really the Best Use of Your Teen’s Time?

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Getting a part-time job is often a rite of passage. 

If your parents don’t shower you with money, that part-time job is your ticket to some financial independence.

My first part-time job was when I turned 16.  I worked at a pizza shop until I was let go after I took an approved one week vacation.  Then I moved to the classic teenage job, McDonald’s.  After being scheduled one too many double shifts, I changed jobs to work at my friend’s grandmother’s dry cleaning business (until my friend tried to steal jewelry that a customer left in the pocket, and I decided I didn’t want to work with her anymore).  From there, I moved to the cafeteria at Montgomery Wards.

On and on it went.

By the time I went to college, I had easily worked 10 to 15 different low end jobs.

Many people encourage teens to take jobs to learn responsibility.

However, I was already a responsible teen and working all of these crummy jobs didn’t teach me much.  (There is not much to learn about following McDonald’s rote directions for every task in the restaurant.)

Maybe instead of encouraging our teens to get low end part-time jobs, we should be encouraging them to spend their time differently.

Detriments of Teens Working Part-time

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How to Control Your Emotions When Shopping

When I was a teenager, I went back-to-school shopping with my best friend and got suckered into buying more clothing than I needed or had money for. 

The saleswoman was smooth and knew all of the right things to tell a 16 year old girl who was nervous about going back to school and looking just right.  That saleslady upsold me on everything—I even bought the matching socks and earrings at her suggestion.

An hour later, embarrassed and a bit angry, I returned everything.

I bought my clothes with my own money from my part-time job, and I simply didn’t have the money to buy that much.

My experience was not unique, but unfortunately, many people now don’t return the items or better yet, stop themselves from buying them in the first place.

We don’t think of shopping as walking through an emotional minefield, but many times that is just what the experience is like.

One of the best ways to combat this minefield is to take your emotions out of shopping, which is easier said than done.  However, knowing why your emotions come into play when shopping can help you better control them.

How to Control Your Emotions When Shopping

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Paying for a Good Education in the Beginning or the End?

When I was in graduate school, I met a man who was Puerto Rican and spoke Spanish. 

His wife was Korean and spoke Korean.  When they had a daughter, they made the conscious decision to only speak English to her so that she wouldn’t be confused by the languages.

I still look at that situation and mourn the tremendous opportunity to learn three languages that this child missed.

Imagine the job opportunities for a trilingual speaker who speaks Spanish, Korean and English!

My husband is Japanese, and while I speak a bit of Japanese, I am by no means conversational.  (Just ask my husband’s mother; I still panic when she calls because I only know a few conversational phrases.)

We determined when we married that we wanted to raise our children to be bilingual; however, that is difficult when mom doesn’t speak the language and dad is at work 10 hours of the day.

We decided to pay tuition to send our children to a private Montessori Japanese language school.  We resolved to invest money in our children’s education upfront, fully aware that the money we spend now is money we won’t have available when they go to college.

Why Invest in Education Upfront?

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Know Your Spending Triggers To Change Your Financial Behavior

Many financial experts advocate knowing your financial personality. 

Investopedia defines five major financial personalities: big spenders, savers, shoppers, debtors, and investors.  While these financial tests can be entertaining, most people fall into a several categories or none of the categories.

What can be more beneficial than learning what broad category you fit into is to identify your spending triggers and how to deal with them.

For instance, I am generally frugal.

I hang up my clothes rather than dry them in the dryer, my car has over 100,000 miles and is 8 years old, and I barter for services that I need rather than paying for them.

My one spending weakness is food, specifically going out to eat.

Generally, my desire to dine out is motivated by stress.  If I have had a busy or chaotic day, there is nothing I want more than to sit in a restaurant, relax, and have someone cook and clean up the mess.  To combat this trigger, I try to find other ways to relax, but I also prepare freezer meals so food is already prepared on a crazy day.  If I still want the dining out experience, I have learned to prepare ahead by buying deal certificates to our favorite restaurant so we can dine out for less.

By taking these steps, my family has curbed our dining out excursions from several times a week to once or twice a month.  I recognized my spending trigger and found solutions for avoiding it or ways to dine out for less.

Typical Spending Triggers

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The Many Ways the Internet Saves (and Makes) You Money

Ten years ago the Internet used to be a luxury that wealthy families could afford, but now most have it. 

According to Nielsen, of the 80% of American homes that have a computer, 92% of them have Internet access.

With this access, they also have a powerful tool to save money.

Sure, we have to pay monthly for our Internet service, but my guess is that people who use the Internet wisely save at least as much as they spend for Internet access, if not more.

Have you given thought lately to all of the ways the Internet saves you money?

Here are just a few I came up with:

Ways the Internet Saves You Money

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Swagbucks Review: Join to Receive Free Gift Cards and Other Prizes

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We are in gazelle intensity mode paying down our debt, and one of the ways that we can still give our kids a nice Christmas without spending a lot of money is through Swagbucks.

I simply search the Internet as usual using Swagbucks as my search engine instead of Yahoo! or Google; occasionally I will be rewarded with Swagbucks (usually ranging from 7 to 79 points per time).

What Is Swagbucks?

Swagbucks is an Internet search engine.

You can use it much the same way you use Google or Yahoo.  However, as you are searching, you are sometimes rewarded with Swagbucks.  These Swagbucks can be redeemed for gift cards or other prizes.

I have won anywhere from 7 to 79 Swagbucks at a time, and because I frequently need to search the Internet as a freelance writer and blogger, I usually win Swagbucks several times a day.  All of the Swagbucks I win accrue until I decide to redeem them for a prize.

What I like is that I am getting rewards for doing something I would do during my day anyway—search the Internet.

How to Sign Up With Swagbucks

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