About · Press · Contact · Write For Us · Top Personal Finance Blogs
Featured In:
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.

The Best Way To Shop Smart: Shop For Others

By Kira Botkin

Bowl of macaroni and cheeseRecently, a local organization that I support held a food drive. We were given a grocery bag one holiday evening and asked to bring it back full of food the next week. Donating food is a very basic way of helping directly in the community, so I was excited to help. I have run food drives in the past and know how happy the food banks are for any donation, especially these days when many are running low on supplies. So off I went to the grocery store.

Click to continue reading...

What’s In Your Car Insurance?

By Kira Botkin

Upside down crashed truckWhen you buy car insurance, you’re actually buying a whole bundle of different insurances for different situations, some of which don’t apply to your own lifestyle and needs. Instead of buying various types of insurance that you may never use, you can save a lot of money by customizing your plan to your financial situation and your car.

What’s required?

Bodily injury liability and property damage liability are all that is strictly required, and the minimum amount of coverage varies from state to state. Coverage amounts are usually written as A/B/C. A and B refer to the bodily injury liability limits – A refers to the amount each person in an accident can receive, and B refers to the total amount the insurance company will pay out for each accident no matter how many individuals were involved. C refers to the property damage liability limit. So if your coverage limits are written as 25/50/75, you have $25,000 bodily injury per person, $50,000 bodily injury per accident, and $75,000 in property damage liability coverage per accident. If bills run up higher than these amounts, it’ll come out of your pocket unless you have umbrella liability insurance.

Click to continue reading...

Would You Put A Tracker In Your Car To Save On Auto Insurance?

By Kira Botkin

Traffic jamA new type of discount in auto insurance is being offered to customers of Progressive. It’s known as a Snapshot device, which is plugged into your car’s computer and provides real-time data on your speed, braking, and miles driven. This allows the company to estimate your driving habits more closely and can give you a discount of up to 30% – that is, assuming Snapshot shows that you’re a good driver. There is a similar system called Onboard Advisor available through Liberty Mutual, but it seems to be limited to commercial auto fleets for the moment.

Click to continue reading...

You Need a Shopping Conscience

By Kira Botkin

woman browsing shampoo aisleI enjoy the “thrill of the hunt” when shopping, but sometimes by the time I’ve gotten home, I can’t even remember what items I bought, nor why I thought they were a good idea! The four questions below will help you develop that little voice inside your head that cautions you about bad purchases before they’re made. Before you buy, ask yourself these questions and avoid the regret:

1. Is it on my list?

Click to continue reading...

5 Home Decorating Trends Frugalized

By Kira Botkin

Heart shaped wreath of cranberries on a green doorI love my Pottery Barn catalog. But I don’t love their prices. Does that mean I need to lower my standards? Absolutely not! Many popular home decorating trends can be yours without dropping a huge sum of money every time.

My favorite thing to do with the catalog is to look at the style they’ve created and decide what similar objects could be used in place of the expensive “antiques.” It’s the best way to combine frugality and fashionable trends by simply being creative. You don’t need to sacrifice aesthetics in order to save money.

Here are my 5 favorite ideas:

Click to continue reading...

How To Win At Estate Sales

By Kira Botkin

Sign for a garage saleI love estate sales. You can find an enormous assortment of things for your home or thoughtful gifts at low prices. For those new to the game, an estate sale is basically a large yard sale put on when someone passes away (or in some cases is moving away), and most everything left in the home is sold after their heirs have taken anything in the will or anything of sentimental value. I find a lot more useful and cool things than I do at yard sales for the simple reason that yard sales consist of things that the living didn’t like, whereas estate sales consist of things that the recently deceased did like because he or she held onto it. I also like the idea of giving cherished objects a new life and a new home, instead of sending them to the junk pile or recycling plant. Estate sales are about as green as you can get!

Click to continue reading...

Stress Free Holiday Shopping: Make A List, Shop All Year, Start Now

By Kira Botkin

Pile of wrapped giftsI love buying presents for other people. It’s essentially an excuse to shop but with a legitimate purpose. However, indiscriminate gift shopping doesn’t get me very far unless I am targeted and organized. Given that now is the perfect time to start so that you’re well-prepared for the holidays, I’m going to give you an insider’s look at my shopping strategy:

Click to continue reading...

What To Do When You Can’t Afford Your Medication

By Kira Botkin

Pile of medication pills

I work for a pharmacy and frequently hear that people have lost their insurance or are having trouble affording copays. As a result, some simply stop ordering their medication. If you’re in a similar situation, there IS help for you out there and you should NOT assume that you’re simply going to have to do without. There are many resources which can help you stay on your medication without going broke:

Ask Your Doctor

Click to continue reading...

Gardening Tips: Where To Spend Your Pennies

By Kira Botkin

Flowerpot with sunflowersIf you’re looking to get started gardening, the garden catalogs will happily sell you thousands of things you don’t need. For most purposes, there’s a simpler way! In this post, I’m going to detail some of the basic tools and vegetables you should and shouldn’t invest in.

Basic Tools

Don’t buy: Expensive Swiss-made forged steel garden tools.

Do buy: Unless you’re a professional gardener, you’re unlikely to be able to tell the difference. A cultivator tool (the claw looking one with three or four prongs) and a small trowel are invaluable, but since it’s still a pretty simple item, you can buy nice ones at home stores for less than $10. I am still using the ones I got out of the $1 section at Target three years ago.

Click to continue reading...

How To Be A Good Friend While Broke

By Kira Botkin

Woman with empty wallet

If you’ve had a major financial change lately, it can be hard to transition to a more frugal lifestyle, especially if going out with friends frequently includes dropping $50 or more. Believe me, I’ve been there. I used to take six people out at a time and pay the whole dinner bill without batting an eye. But when my income suddenly dropped, I didn’t know how to adjust – and how to tell people that I couldn’t pick up rounds of drinks anymore.

Acknowledge it openly.

Click to continue reading...

Baby Shower Presents New Parents Will Actually Use

By Kira Botkin

Two pairs of baby booties

I love shopping for babies. Everything’s so cute and tiny and adorable. But most of the things that I’m drawn to aren’t going to be very useful to the new parents. I got the skinny from two experts (with babies) who say that the following items are the most appreciated – all quotes are from the mouths of moms!

Onesies
“Onesies are wonderful because they reduce the need for daily laundry. Yep, daily.” For the price of a super-cute sailor outfit or a customized shirt that says “Future Doctor,” you can get several basic onesies at Target or Wal-Mart.

Click to continue reading...

One dime at a time: How I earned money as a kid

By Kira Botkin

Child's lemonade stand sign

As a child I had quite the entrepreneurial spirit. I set up many lemonade stands, a time-honored classic, but when one’s mind is firmly set on a $19 stuffed Troll doll (seriously, it was the rage!), one’s mind can come up with a multitude of other earning possibilities. I didn’t have an allowance as a child and neither did anyone else I knew until I was much older – so if I wanted it, either I had to wait for my birthday to roll around (which was in December, so it always seemed to takeits time) or make the money myself. Usually I chose the latter, and it got me into a habit of looking out for money making opportunities that are still available to me today.

Click to continue reading...

How To Opt Out And Get Less Junk Mail

By Kira Botkin

Pile of junk mail

I personally really like getting things in the mail. What I don’t like is getting random offers for credit cards, mortgage refinancing, and other junk. Not only are these wasteful and annoying, they’re a big source of identity theft problems. Help save your sanity, your identity, your postman’s back, and the planet by opting out of junk mail with these websites:

1. The most important – www.optoutprescreen.com

Click to continue reading...

Groupon Review – The Best Daily Deals In Your City

By Kira Botkin

If you’re a deal hunter, you’ll love Groupon. Each day, Groupon, which is a free service, offers a different deal on something fun to do, good food, a new experience, or something you’ve always wanted to try. It’s basically a gift certificate at a discount. Groupon has coupons available in dozens of metropolitan areas including multiple ares in some larger cities like Los Angeles or Washington, DC. It is also available in several Canadian cities and many countries outside the United States as it continues to expand and gain a huge following.

Click to continue reading...

The Difference Between an ESA and a 529 College Savings Plan

By Kira Botkin

If you’ve just had a child, then it’s never too early to start thinking about their future. Sending a child to college is a huge expense, and many parents are unable to fund their children’s college expenses. By the way, it doesn’t make you a bad parent if you don’t pick up the tab for your child’s college expenses. However, if you plan early, you can help change your family tree by helping your child stay out of debt early in their life. The two most popular college savings accounts are the Coverdell Educational Savings Account (ESA) and the 529 college savings plan. Both of these savings plans act much like an Health Savings Account or retirement account, because they are invested in investments such as mutual funds and withdrawals must be used for a specific purpose or at a specific time in one’s life. I’ll give you the pros and the cons for each savings plan, and you can decide which plan will work best for you.

Click to continue reading...

The content on MoneyCrashers.com is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as professional financial advice. Should you need such advice, consult a licensed financial or tax advisor. References to products, offers, and rates from third party sites often change. While we do our best to keep these updated, numbers stated on this site may differ from actual numbers. We may have financial relationships with some of the companies mentioned on this website. Among other things, we may receive free products, services, and/or monetary compensation in exchange for featured placement of sponsored products or services. We strive to write accurate and genuine reviews and articles, and all views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors.

Advertiser Disclosure: The offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which MoneyCrashers.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site, including, for example, the order in which they appear on category pages. MoneyCrashers.com does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers, although best efforts are made to include a comprehensive list of offers regardless of compensation. Advertiser partners include American Express, U.S. Bank, and Barclaycard, among others.