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Kira Botkin
Kira is a longtime blogger and serial entrepreneur who enjoys gardening, garage sales, and finding stray animals. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, where football is a distinct season, and by day runs a research study for people with multiple sclerosis. She hopes that the MoneyCrashers team can help you achieve your goals and live a great life.

9 Green Energy Tax Credits for Home Improvement & Energy Efficiency

By Kira Botkin

You probably know that you can save money on your utility bills go green tax creditsby making your home energy efficient. But you might not know that many energy-efficient upgrades can reduce your taxes as well.

In fact, there are a range of federal tax credits available that run the gamut from installing a geothermal heat pump to installing new insulation. If you’ve recently made improvements to your home, or are considering it, check the list of available tax credits and make sure to claim the ones you qualify for.

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List of 15 Commonly Overlooked Personal Tax Deductions for Individuals

By Kira Botkin

coins

The only thing worse than paying taxes is inadvertently paying more than you have to. You can avoid this by taking advantage of the common and commonly overlooked deductions. It’s best to be aware of these all year long, so you can maximize your deductions and maintain good records.

Even if the tax filing deadline is rapidly approaching, it still pays to know which deductions you could be eligible for so you can dig up old receipts to claim them. See if you can reduce your taxes or increase your refund by claiming any of the following.

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Dividend Reinvestment Plans (DRIPs) and What They Offer Investors

By Kira Botkin

stock chart dividendsStocks are generally thought to be risky investments (when compared to investing in bonds). And even though the average annual yield is great at around 12%, the market can be difficult to predict. However, there are ways to remove some of this risk by investing in dividend reinvestment programs (DRIPs). These programs can remove some of the brokerage and investment management fees that would otherwise eat away at your investment.

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Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel Book Review – 100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets by Phil Villarreal

By Kira Botkin

Book Giveaway: Read this review of Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel, then leave a comment with the most low-down or annoying thing you’ve done to earn or save money. Best story wins a copy of the book! Deadline for submission is this Friday – February 11, 2011.

secrets of a stingy scoundrelDo you ever feel like there’s more you could do to be frugal and save money? Perhaps you’ve taken to rinsing and reusing sandwich baggies, or cutting up old clothes for cleaning rags.

But unless at least 20% of your daily calories come from stolen condiments, according to Phil Villarreal in his book, Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel: 100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets, you aren’t doing nearly enough.

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Frugal Guinea Pig: Dollar Store Dining with Food Items & Products – Worth the $1?

By Kira Botkin

dollar tree grocery shoppingAs the Frugal Guinea Pig, I strive to bring you reports on what’s new and exciting in the world of bargains.

Today’s experiment addresses whether buying food at the dollar store saves you money – and if what you buy there can even be considered edible food.

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7 Pro Tips for the Best Mystery Shopping Assignments & Jobs

By Kira Botkin

mystery shopperMystery shopping has been around for a while and is a useful market research tool for businesses to assess certain things like customer service, product quality, and adherence to rules or guidelines.

For those of you looking to become experts at the popular money-making strategy of utilizing mystery shopping companies and jobs, here are 7 advanced tips to increase your earnings and up your game.

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What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover & How Much Do I Need?

By Kira Botkin

house handsLike the types of auto insurance, homeowners insurance is actually a bundle of different categories of coverage, which apply in various situations.

You aren’t able to pick and choose what categories you want – there are six different components to homeowners insurance, all of which are required, which we’ll discuss below.

However, depending on your possessions, type of home, and your financial cushion, you can choose a coverage level for each category to get a plan that works best for you, while keeping your costs down.

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6 Websites to Help You Earn Extra Money Online From Home

By Kira Botkin

guy with computerWe all know that the Internet has revolutionized how folks sell their spare stuff for extra income (i.e. selling things online on eBay or Amazon), but did you know it can also help turn your free time into extra income?

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What is Mystery Shopping? A Complete Guide to Mystery Shopping Companies & Jobs

By Kira Botkin

Escalators at an indoor mallHave you ever seen advertisements for work as a mystery shopper and wondered if they were legitimate? Have you worked in a store that received reports from mystery shoppers? Did you ever want to know more about your mysterious patrons?

Mystery shopping, when done right, is a legitimate way to make money and visit new businesses. I work as a mystery shopper in addition to my full time job. I like the work because it is flexible and often, it helps me to save money on my purchases. I’m writing this piece in order to help take the mystery out of mystery shopping. If you’re interested in getting involved, or just want to learn more, you will find a lot of answers to your questions here.

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Top 5 Group Buying Sites for Daily Deals and Online Coupons

By Kira Botkin

group buying sites shoppingIf you read my Groupon review and have become a fan yourself, you won’t want to miss out on these sites. Group buying is growing like crazy and there are lots of new sites bringing you deals every day.

In addition to Groupon, these sites are particularly useful if you are looking to save money on holiday gifts for your loved ones – or yourself!

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Men’s Fashion Tips and How to Shop for Men’s Clothing – A Woman’s Ultimate Guide

By Kira Botkin

mens shirts deals on mens clothingShopping for affordable and stylish men’s clothing can be a real challenge for most guys. So here is a handy guide – by a real live girl who has helped real men shop – for how to pick out clothes that won’t make you look like a “doofus,” and keep you looking sharp so you can dress well with high quality clothing on a budget.

Women are generally better at this sort of thing anyway, so guys, listen up! Here are 10 indispensable clothes shopping and wardrobe fashion tips for men:

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The Grocery Game Review – Match Coupons to Sales For Maximum Grocery Shopping Savings

By Kira Botkin

Limited Time Offer: Click here and sign up for The Grocery Game using coupon code SAVINGS2012 to get a six-week free trial for new members.

The companies who produce coupons are counting on you to buy things you don’t need by luring you in with a discount. But you can substantially reduce your grocery bill if you step up your extreme couponing skills, and learn how to match coupons to sales on items that you use most often. But since this can take up a lot of your valuable time, is it worth all the effort?

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The Coupon Clippers Review – Find & Buy Grocery Coupons Online

By Kira Botkin

If you’re new to the world of extreme couponing, you probably don’t have weeks of coupons saved up yet, but you’re taunted by listings on The Grocery Game for sales on items you use frequently. “Oh! If only I had the coupons for those items!” you lament. Well, some industrious ladies in Florida have got you covered.

The Coupon Clippers gathers a vast array of coupons and provides them for purchases that can be used towards thousands of different items. Prices are very reasonable at usually about 10-20% of face value of the coupons. There are also usually over a thousand of each individual coupon available, so you can stock up big time! I’ve made two purchases from them and received the coupons very quickly with no issues at all.

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4 Tips & Tricks For How to Lose Weight Fast, Safe, Cheap, and Easy

By Kira Botkin

woman with measuring tape around her waistI will freely admit that being frugal is not something that comes to me easily. When I decided to lose weight, I was daunted by the potential costs. I don’t like carrots and I hate walking in the rain, but I also didn’t want to pay hundreds for a specialized meal program or expensive gym membership. So what did I do? Here are the three steps I followed which put me on track to getting healthy and losing weight:

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Camping in Line for Black Friday Shopping Deals & Doorbusters? 9 Crucial Camping Supplies & Gear You’ll Need

By Kira Botkin

black friday lines at targetIt’s going to be a mite chilly waiting for that 5am opening this Black Friday! Here are 9 supplies recommended by veteran Black Friday shoppers to keep you fed, warm, and entertained while camping out in line:

1. Tent
A small tent helps keep the wind off and contain body heat.

2. Sleeping Bag
The insulation of a sleeping bag keeps the cold ground from sucking out all your body heat.

3. Warm Clothing
If you’ve got snow pants, you’re ultra-prepared! Otherwise, several layers of clothing are a must. Don’t forget thick socks, and make sure all your joints (ankles, wrists, knees) are covered as those are major points of heat loss.

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