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Heather Levin
Heather Levin is a freelance writer based in Detroit, MI. She's passionately committed to living green, saving money, and helping others do the same in their life.

5 Dealer Tricks to Avoid for Car Rentals – Best Cheap Rental Car Deals

By Heather Levin

Last week I had to rent a car for a long trip. And if I hadn’t done my research beforehand, the car rental clerk would have scammed and sweet-talked me into spending a lot more than I needed to.

In fact, she was using such hard-sell tactics that, at times, I felt like I was buying the darn thing.

Car rental companies frequently advertise rock-bottom rates on sites like Expedia and Hotwire. But when you go in to pick up your car and finalize your reservation, they have a whole magic bag of tricks they use to scare you, and lull you, into spending more.

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5 Frugal Gourmet Food And Cooking Ingredients On A Budget

By Heather Levin

I have a recipe for Mile-High Banana Pudding that I’ve been wanting to try for months. And this recipe is like the Gold Medal Winner of Banana Puddings. But it calls for 2 vanilla beans…

Have you ever priced vanilla beans at the store? You might as well be buying gold. Vanilla beans are outrageously expensive. And my stubbornness over these prices has kept me from making this fabulous recipe.

That was all until I discovered a crafty way around the problem. I discovered that I didn’t have to pay the grocery store’s absurd prices to get those beans.

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7 Frugal Tips For How To Entertain Guests At Your House For The Holidays

By Heather Levin

Here’s the scenario: you’ve got your Aunt Edna, Uncle Frank, and your three cousins coming for the holidays. Plus, your parents have been subtly hinting they’d like to come stay as well.

You’re trying to be excited about having so much time with your family, but you can’t help but think about how much this is going to cost. With guests, tntertainment costs increase exponentially, utilities shoot up, and it becomes almost impossible to save money on grocery bills.

The good news is that with a little preparation, houseguests don’t have to be as expensive as you might think. Here are 7 strategies to help you budget for your houseguests:

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13 Frugal Home Budgeting Tips You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

By Heather Levin

When it comes to frugal tips, there are some old tricks that have been practiced for a long time.

For instance, one of the many uses for baking soda is as a cleaning substitute to wash your countertops. Or, to give new life to your grungy sponges, you simply pop them in the microwave with some vinegar and lemons. Finally, using egg cartons instead of buying expensive indoor greenhouses is one of the many home gardening tips to save money on your gardening.

As I mentioned, many of us are already doing or have heard of many of these ideas that helping with saving money and living a greener life.

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5 Tips On Proper Unwanted Gifts Regifting Etiquette

By Heather Levin

There’s no doubt regifting is a contentious issue.

Some people wholeheartedly embrace regifting. Others think it’s tacky, and they’d never consider doing it. According to a survey done by Consumer Reports, 36% of people regifted last holiday season. And surprisingly, the higher your income, the likelier you are to have engaged in regifting.

Personally, I’m really into regifting. I’m always trying to downsize my home and life, so when I get an unwanted gift, why keep it? This is especially true if I happen to know someone who could really benefit from whatever I’m not using. Even better, it saves me a significant amount of money as well.

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8 Homemade Christmas Decorations And Ornaments

By Heather Levin

In just a few short weeks, we’re going to enter what retailers call “The Golden Month.” It’s the month that falls between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when our consumer spending habits can get out of control. We shop, we decorate, and we entertain far more than we do the rest of the year. And as we all know, it adds up.

There are plenty of ways to have fun yet cheap family holidays this year. And one of them revolves around our holiday decorating.

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The 15 Best and Most Unusual Creative Gift Ideas

By Heather Levin

When it comes to giving, most of us opt for a physical gift. Something that will delight our loved ones, something they can use, or something that makes them smile.

But, how often do we give a gift that just ends up as another piece of clutter that gets thrown out when the giftee is downsizing his or her home? Sure, we may think it’s fabulous, but to someone else, that expensive gift might just be another thing they have to store and clean around.

The reality is that most of us already have too much stuff. Take a look at these statistics from the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO):

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9 Tips On How To Sneak A Workout Routine Into Your Day

By Heather Levin

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), almost 70% of Americans are either overweight or obese. And according to a poll conducted by USA Today and Harris Interactive, 30% of overweight adults thought they had a “normal” weight, and 70% of those classified as obese felt they were merely “overweight.”

It’s clear from this poll that “overweight” is becoming the new norm. After all, if 7 out of every 10 people we see on the street is overweight, it’s easy to lose sight of what a healthy adult should look like.

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7 Tips to Save Money on Your Thanksgiving Day Dinner Menu

By Heather Levin

If you’ve ever hosted Thanksgiving for friends and family, then you know how easy it is for costs to spiral out of control. Turkeys and pies and casseroles and cakes can all add up to an enormous grocery bill. And if you decide to decorate, well…you see where this is going. It can get expensive!

To help you out this Thanksgiving, I want to give you seven easy to save money this Thanksgiving:

1. Have a BYOD (Bring Your Own Dish) Celebration

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What Detroit Has Taught Me About Saving Money

By Heather Levin

Can you imagine living in a city without a single chain grocery store? Can you imagine living without a Target, a Walmart, a Home Depot, or Best Buy? No TJ Maxx or Marshall’s or Bed Bath and Beyond? Or without a Costco to buy things in bulk?

I know it might be hard to picture. Big chain retailers have permeated our culture so much that the thought of living in a place without them is hard to imagine.

But I do live in a place without them. And I’m more grateful every day that I do.

Why?

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How to Prevent Food Poisoning In Restaurants

By Heather Levin

Have you ever had food poisoning? Chances are, on some level, the answer is yes. I have, and it really stinks.

Health experts say that the majority of time, food poisoning occurs when we’re outside our homes. That is, when we eat at restaurants, delis, or cafeterias, or when we buy a quick bite from a street vendor.

But is there any way to avoid getting food poisoning when we go out? Well, yes, but only if we know what to look for.

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Remedies to Prevent Various Types of Food Poisoning

By Heather Levin

Did you know that each year, over 76 million people get sick from food poisoning?

Think about that. 76 million of us get sick from food that’s supposed to be safe. And according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), over 350,000 of those illnesses are serious enough to require hospitalization. Of those, 5,000 people end up dying.

Those are some shockingly high statistics from one of the most developed countries in the world.

If you’ve paid any attention to the news over the past few years, then you know that the instances of foodborne illness and contamination seem to be on the rise. More than 200 known diseases are transmitted through food, and more are being identified all the time.

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Appliances You Might Be Surprised You Can Live Without

By Heather Levin

I recently wrote a post on how to downsize your life to a drastically smaller living space. I mentioned how, when I moved, I accidentally left something I thought I couldn’t live without at my old house: my microwave.

The funny thing is that it took me four days to realize I’d forgotten it. I hadn’t needed it, and my new kitchen was so much smaller I just didn’t notice its absence.

That was over a month ago. And I still don’t have a microwave.

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How to Make Your Home Energy Efficient

By Heather Levin

I recently made the transition from home owner to renter. And although that transition has been a happy and fun experience, there’s one issue that has come as bit of a shock.

The loft space I’m renting is not very energy efficient at all. At all.

I have single-pane windows that are over 15-feet high (and the Michigan winter is well on its way). There’s a draft by my desk that lets in so much cold air that my hair blows back when there’s a breeze outside. My toilet runs constantly. And my faucets? Taking a shower is like standing under Niagara Falls.

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I Lost My Job Too: How to Make the Best Use of Your Unemployment

By Heather Levin

During the 2008-09 recession, my freelance business took a huge hit. In the early part of 2009, business was down 70% from the year before. Clients were going out of business left and right, and the ones I had left were drastically curtailing their spending.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009 unemployment stood at 9.5% nationally (not seasonally adjusted). In my home state of Michigan, 14% of the population was unemployed. And in my home city of Detroit, unemployment was a shocking 50%. Nevada suffered from the overall highest unemployment, at 14.4%.

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