There are plenty of reasons to volunteer your time for a good cause. I do it because I believe in the work, and while that’s enough for me, I certainly get a lot more out of it than I initially expected. I have volunteered for most of my adult life rescuing dogs and assisting in animal shelters. In addition to this gratifying work, I’ve also learned web design, public relations, and copyediting – all career skills that have bolstered my resume, made me more hireable, and turned me into a more effective worker.
Living with others isn’t easy. Several years ago, my friends and I decided to get a house together. We were all incredibly excited and made promises to split everything evenly, from rent, to utilities, to chores. However, it wasn’t long before the problems started. One roommate was constantly late in paying his portion of the bills. Another was obsessed about splitting every cost, even the $0.99 dish soap.
I learned pretty quickly what works and what doesn’t in a shared living environment. There are specific things you need to make a part of your routine, and others you must make a point to avoid.
For more than 175 years, “The Crescent City” has been a popular tourist destination for Mardi Gras. However, there are plenty of great reasons to visit any time of year. One of the oldest cities in America, New Orleans boasts a rich and unique culture and a lengthy history, and offers countless forms of entertainment – and countless ways to spend money.
But you don’t have to drain your bank account to have fun in New Orleans. In fact, there are numerous free attractions to help you save money on vacation while still having a memorable time.
If making your rent each month means bottoming out your checking account, you aren’t alone. According to the Center for Housing Policy, housing and transportation costs have increased 44% since 2000, while household incomes have increased by only 25%. Today, moderate-income households spend a whopping 59% of their annual income on housing and transportation – more than ever before. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, more than 4.9 million U.S. households receive some sort of federal assistance.
A year ago, I traded in my expensive, new vehicle for an older, cheaply insured clunker. It saved me well over a thousand dollars in insurance and gas costs over the following 10 months. However, after the most recent incident in which the engine stalled in a parking lot and my car had to be towed home yet again, I decided I just wasn’t going to drive anymore.
Since then, I’ve been walking, biking, riding the streetcar, and hailing the occasional taxicab whenever I need to get around. Granted, I’m lucky – Walk Score rates my neighborhood in New Orleans 75 points out of 100 for walkability. But other cities – such as New York, San Francisco, and Jersey City – have even higher ranks.
If you’re looking for an apartment for rent, you need to first figure out how much rent you can afford per month. Of course, you’ll be limited by your income, and property managers and landlords will account for that when you submit an application. But what they won’t account for are your other living expenses – you must do that yourself. Just because you get approved to rent a place doesn’t necessarily mean you can afford it. After all, vaulted ceilings or extra rooms won’t make up for a personal budget deficit if you simply can’t afford them.
I live in a small duplex with one closet, a tiny pantry, and four cabinets. I’m also a bit of a hoarder, so finding storage solutions has been a challenge. At first, I piled stuff behind doors, in bins, and anywhere else I could hide it. But that isn’t practical long-term, so I had to find better solutions – and cheap ones at that. After all, I’m a renter. I don’t want to buy a bunch of high-priced organizational tools I won’t be able to use once I move.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, about 2.37 million tons of e-waste ended up in landfills in 2009. And unfortunately, many of the electronic gadgets dumped in landfills are still usable.
If you’re like me, your old devices end up sitting in a closet or storage space every time you upgrade to a new computer, cellphone, or TV. However, instead of letting the old electronics sit there collecting dust – or tossing them into the trash – consider donating them.
As a frugal fanatic, I’m in love with the digital age. Thanks to countless coupon and daily deal websites, I’m not limited to just the coupons and ads in the newspaper. And now that I’ve got a smartphone, I’m not limited to finding deals to solely when I’m at home. Instead, I can find deals on the go with discount apps like BiteHunter.
BiteHunter is an iPhone daily deal app for foodies. Unlike most deal sites that cover everything discount, BiteHunter sticks to restaurants and dining deals which come from several popular deal sites and apps like Groupon, LivingSocial, and Restaurant.com.
Buying a home or renting an apartment is a big commitment, and not an easy one to make. There are many choices, and between choosing from available homes, real estate agents, and lenders, it can all become quite overwhelming.
One option to help relieve the stress and help you make wise choices is Zillow. Zillow aims to simplify the house hunting process by giving you all the information you need on one site, a task it excels at – mostly.
With New Year’s coming up, I’ve been thinking about my New Year’s resolutions. Last year, one of my resolutions was to stop eating fast food, and I held steadfast for three weeks. Then, in late January, I had a busy day, convinced myself there was no time to cook, and gravitated to the dollar menu.
This year, I’m going to make another resolution to stop eating fast food, and I’m pretty sure I’ll keep it this time. Ever since I found the rotisserie chickens at Costco for about $6, I don’t see any reason to pull up to a drive-thru.
I have a bad habit of buying clothes and never wearing them, or buying something specifically for one occasion and never wearing it again. As a result, I always seem to have a closet stuffed with clothing in great condition that I know I’ll never wear.
While I could sell on eBay or sell on Craigslist, I don’t have the patience for everything involved in online sales. I’d rather gather up all of my unwanted clothes and drop them off at a charity once a year. In addition to providing people in need with some very nice, gently used clothing, I also receive tax deductions for donations. So really, I still get something out of my unwanted clothes.
A few months ago, I decided that buying furniture online would be an ideal way to refurnish my house. However, when the pieces started to arrive, I quickly realized that much of my older furniture had to go.
At first, I planned to sell on Craigslist or run some eBay auctions, but in the end, I decided to donate the furniture to a local charity. If you donate your unwanted furniture to charity, you can deduct the donation from your taxes at the end of the year. This can add up to a sizable write-off, even if you do not have many pieces to donate.
The holiday season usually puts retailers in the black, but as the recession drags on, retailers have seen a slump in their holiday sales. With consumers buying fewer and less expensive gifts, creating homemade Christmas decorations, and downsizing their holiday parties, retailers find it difficult to achieve pre-recession sales numbers.
To fight the slump, stores have pulled out all the stops, including reviving their old layaway plans. Layaway is one gift-buying option, but it isn’t always the best option. Every layaway program has pros and cons you must consider before signing on the dotted line.
I love books. I stop at every bookstore I pass and usually pick up at least one new book, if not more. My love of books is no secret, and friends and family always know what to get me for Christmas and for my birthday. The result is that I have an enormous collection!
Though I love hoarding them, I realize I won’t read many of these books ever again. Moreover, my collection now takes up too much space and I can’t stand the clutter. But I hate the idea of throwing anything remotely usable into a landfill. So to strike a balance between my love for books and dislike of clutter, I’ve decided to spread the joy my beloved books have brought me by donating them to worthy causes.