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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.

Credit Card Debt Reduction Story: How I Got My Minimums Reduced

By Kira Botkin

Scissors cutting up a credit cardFor those of you who are on the uphill road of getting out of debt and working towards the light at the end of the tunnel, paying off credit cards can feel like it eats up every penny you make. Several months ago, I was paying the minimum or close to it on multiple cards and trying to scrape up as much as I could to keep things together. As you can tell, I got myself into a bad debt situation. However, I was pretty lucky in that I have never actually missed a payment or otherwise given the credit card companies an excuse to exercise the universal default policy and jack up my interest rate.

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Why Do We Save?

By Kira Botkin

Coins dropping into a piggy bankWhy do we save our money and not spend everything we have the second we have the money? What is it we are accomplishing with our money when it sits in a bank account adding a tiny bit each month, instead of using it to buy delicious meals, beautiful clothes, fun experiences, or other equally desirous things? I want to use this post to take a philosophical approach on the topic and, more importantly, I want to get your feedback below.

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Is A College Degree Valuable Without Job Skills?

By Kira Botkin

Graduating girl with capWhen you’re entering college at 17 or 18, you’re often encouraged to broaden your horizons and pursue what interests you. But is that a good plan for long-term career success? Unfortunately, this type of advice can sometimes lead to students gaining skills and knowledge that may very likely be virtually useless upon graduation. I am not saying people should sacrifice their interests for the sake of a good-paying career, but they at least need to be made fully aware of how their decisions in college will affect their career opportunities down the road. In my own life, I can think of many people who graduated with fancy degrees and lots of knowledge, but had no actual work experience or valuable job skills, which put them behind the proverbial eight ball when it came time to look for a job.

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Are Outlet Malls Worth It?

By Kira Botkin

Pants on a rackWhen I was a kid, I remember going to the outlet mall, the promised land where I would actually be able to buy stuff with my own money because it was so cheap. I didn’t care if it was last season’s or it wasn’t the greatest piece of clothing, because the allure of low prices drew me in, as well as millions of other people across the country. Over time, however, outlet malls have changed, and not for the better.

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8 Great Songs about Personal Finance

By Kira Botkin

Steel guitarRock stars didn’t start out rich, and they often bring a certain mindset about money and finances to their songwriting. Believe it or not, some of their songs offer some really interesting perspectives that apply to our own lives.

I’ve taken some of my favorite lines from eight popular rock and pop songs that incorporate financial lessons we can all relate to. Check them out and feel free to add any other song lines that should be in this list!

1. “Fixing a Hole” by the Beatles

I’m fixing a hole where the rain gets in, to stop my mind from wandering…

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5 Tips To Get Your Friends To Be Frugal With You

By Kira Botkin

Two friends drinking coffeeMany studies have shown that we tend to do things based on the examples set by our friends. When our friends overeat, we overeat, and when our friends overspend, we feel like it’s more acceptable for us to overspend too. If your group of friends has gotten into a rut where you’re not comfortable with the amount you spend or the financial priorities of your group, you can help lead the way for others by making changes of your own. Making moves to change for the better can inspire your friends to take a look at their financial life and start making changes of their own. Here are 5 great tips to help spur some change:

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What Is Debt Addiction?

By Kira Botkin

Stack of credit cardsFor many people, our personal demons show up in many areas of our life, including our finances. Some of us try to make ourselves feel better by buying things we don’t need, ignoring our money problems, or wishing for magical solutions. A common end to this road is debt addiction.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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:

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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!

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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:

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Essential Tips for Saving on Plus Sized Clothes

By Kira Botkin

Rack of colorful clothes and accessoriesShopping for women’s plus-sized clothes is a special challenge because not very many stores carry the sizes. However, there are lots of great deals to be had! It just takes preparation, patience, and a deep love of online shopping. There are several great stores that you can get amazing deals from if you use a little ingenuity and planning.

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