9 Financial Lessons to Learn from “Downton Abbey” (Spoiler Alert)

downton abbeyIf you were one of the 8.5 million viewers who sighed when the latest season of “Downton Abbey” came to an end, join the club – I’m a diehard fan. Blame it on my love for all things British and the amazing costumes – and, of course, the juicy storyline and gasp-inducing plot twists as well.

But while “Downton Abbey” might simply be seen as a bit of fun for a Sunday night, I’ve noticed a recurring theme that colors literally every part of the show, characters, and plot: money. After all, the entire premise of the show is to prove that between the “have” and the “have nots,” everyone has their own challenges. With this in mind, I started watching the show with renewed interest in the theme of money and financial security.

Click to continue reading...

How to Use a 21-Day Financial Fast to Improve Spending Habits

saving moneyIn “The 21-Day Financial Fast: Your Path to Financial Peace and Freedom,”¬†financial advisor and Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary outlines the “financial fast,” a sort of money diet that promises to break bad spending habits, create a plan to become debt free, and set yourself on a better financial course for the future. While on a financial fast, you can’t spend any unnecessary money – at all. Unless it’s food, shelter, or something else essential to survival, you’re committing to making do with what you already have.

Click to continue reading...

8 Best Mobile Coupon Apps to Save Money Shopping With Your Smartphone

using a smartphone while shoppingExtreme couponing can save you a lot of money, but it can also take a lot of energy. Fumbling through newspapers, clipping the best deals, and waiting for them to scan at checkout can make any quick supermarket trip an epic errand. People with kids or full-time jobs typically don’t have the time to scour the Internet and print out, organize, and use anything more than the occasional coupon.

That’s where couponing apps can come to the rescue. The ability to upload, “clip,” and scan coupons directly on your smartphone can make the process a lot more efficient.

Click to continue reading...

10 Affordable Travel Tips to Stay Within Your Vacation Budget

travelIt seems like every time I log into Facebook or Instagram, I’m hit with a barrage of pictures from friends traveling the world. Whether they’re backpacking across Europe, sightseeing in Asia, or exploring South American jungles, it’s hard for me not to get a little travel envy. With two kids and a mortgage, though, dropping everything to jet set around the world just isn’t in the cards – or in our budget.

Click to continue reading...

14 Tips to Increase Productivity & Avoid Distractions When Working at Home

work at homeAccording to the U.S. Census, nearly six million Americans work primarily from home. If you’re looking to become one of them, it’s crucial to watch out for the pitfalls.

I’ve been working from home for the past eight years. And while I definitely am now comfortable doing so, there were a lot of growing pains early on. I once locked myself in the bathroom to have an uninterrupted conference call with a client – not quite the epitome of professionalism. However, if you take the time to prepare to work from home and create an atmosphere conducive to professionalism and productivity, it’s more than possible to build a thriving career.

Click to continue reading...

10 Ways to Take Care of Your Clothes and Make Them Last Longer

clothesWhether you’re a total fashionista or you avoid the mall at all costs, you probably spend a lot more than you think on clothing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American family spent $1,736 on clothes in 2012. Although kids outgrow their clothing fairly quickly, adults can hang onto theirs for years – as long as it doesn’t wear out.

Since longer-lasting clothing means more money in your pocket, be sure you do all you can to preserve your wardrobe. Of course, it may require changing a few habits. Luckily, you don’t need special products to keep your whites sparkling and your dark garments looking sharp.

Click to continue reading...

9 Money-Saving Tips From TLC’s “Extreme Cheapskates” – Savvy or Risky?

extreme cheapskatesIf you’ve never seen an episode of TLC’s “Extreme Cheapskates,” here’s a quick rundown: Each episode features two self-described “cheapskates” who demonstrate their cheap ways throughout the episode. From dumpster diving, to foraging for vegetables, it seems like there’s no money-saving method too extreme for these beacons of money-saving savvy.

But here’s the thing: While the cheapskates on the show cheerfully boast about all the money they’re saving, not all of their behavior is safe. In fact, the series starts with a warning: “Don’t try this at home.”

Potentially Dangerous Cheapskate Methods

Click to continue reading...

15 Ways to Improve Your Career Prospects and Reach Work-Related Goals

workerAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person spends 8.8 hours per day at work – that’s a little over 9,000 hours per year, essentially one-third of your life. It stands to reason, then, that you’re going to want to choose a job that you truly love.

Unfortunately, economic conditions, necessity, and the simple twists and turns of life can lead you down a career path you’re not necessarily passionate about. Whether you’re stuck in a dead-end job, earning less than you want, or you simply aren’t appreciated, a negative perception of your career can be discouraging.

Click to continue reading...

Daycare Costs – 9 Ways to Save Money on Childcare Services

daycareMy husband and I were overjoyed to have our first baby back in 2006. We were both employed at the time, and after a short maternity leave I was more than ready to head back to work.

The problem, however, was childcare.¬†While it’s a blessing that provides parents the opportunity to return to work, it can also take an impressive chunk out of your paycheck. Before you return to work, consider the costs of care in your area, the alternatives, and how much help you really need.

Analyzing Daycare Costs

Click to continue reading...

How to Find the Perfect Apartment for Rent – 10-Step Process

apt-search1Whether you’re a young adult about to live on your own for the first time or you’re going from a mortgage to a month-to-month rental in a new area, you need to be prepared before starting your apartment hunt. Finding the right place at the right price is no easy task, but it doesn’t have to be too overwhelming. After you figure out what you can afford, it’s simply a matter of finding the right apartment, agreeing to lease terms, and then signing on the dotted line.

Click to continue reading...