6 Ways to Handle Gift Giving on a Tight Budget

gift-givingWhile it may be better to give than to receive, sometimes, giving hurts. If you’ve ever looked at your bank account just before the holidays (or right before a slew of family birthdays), you know what I’m talking about. Even the most generous of people can feel a pinch when the expense of giving ends up eating into next month’s grocery bill.

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Saver’s Tax Credit – Eligibility & Benefits of Retirement Savings Contributions

tax creditSaving for retirement doesn’t always come easy, but there are significant tax benefits to low- and moderate-income families who choose to prioritize these long-term savings. The Retirement Savings Contributions Credit (otherwise known as the “Saver’s Credit”), a tax credit designed to encourage retirement savings, makes it possible for individual filers to receive up to $1,000 as a tax credit, while married couples filing jointly can receive up to $2,000.

The really good news is that the Saver’s Credit works with any other retirement-based tax incentives you already benefit from. For instance, if you can already deduct your 401k contributions from your taxes, you may still be able to use the Saver’s Credit, reducing your tax liability even further.

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How to Make Custom Wall Art Out of Reclaimed Wood

add spice kitchen wood signIf the multitude of projects on Pinterest and Etsy are any indication, reclaimed wall art is definitely a growing trend. While I appreciate the rustic feel of wood pallet signs, I’m not necessarily a huge fan of the price tag. Some pieces cost more than $100 for what amounts to nothing more than some old wood and paint.

After a recent barn renovation, I was inspired to make my own wall sign out of some of the old wood left lying around. The project was very easy and took only about a day to complete. Best of all, the end result is exactly what I was hoping for – and it cost me only a fraction of the price of purchasing a similar sign.

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How to Get More Followers on Instagram – 5 Crucial Tips

instagramIf you’re looking for the “new Facebook,” look no further than Instagram. After displaying year-over-year growth of more than 900% two years in a row – booming from a million active users to more than 100 million active users, according to a compilation of Instagram statistics by TOTEMS – Instagram was actually bought out by Facebook in 2012 for $1 billion. And then it kept growing. As of December 2014, the social network has more than 200 million active users, with 20 billion photos shared – averaging roughly 60 million photos per day. That’s a lot of sharing.

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What Are Online Virtual Conferences – Pros & Cons, How to Benefit

online conferenceThe online world is a mecca for learning, with a seemingly unlimited number of opportunities to expand your knowledge base. One online trend that’s starting to gain some real traction is that of the web-based conference. In addition to an education component, these typically feature opportunities for networking and, in some cases, online vendor “booths” and sponsors.

Designed as an alternative to professional conferences, some online conferences are held 100% over the Internet – often termed “summits” – while others are held online in conjunction with a live, in-person component. For instance, the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference will be held live in Indianapolis, Indiana, but you can also attend online.

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5 Easy Ways to Add Green Leafy Vegetables to Your Diet

green vegetablesGiven the choice between ice cream and spinach salad, many people would reach for the sweet stuff. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention no-profit health partner, Fruits & Veggies More Matters, only 6% of Americans eat the recommended number of vegetable servings each day – and of those veggies, not many of them are green.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), starchy potatoes are the most frequently consumed vegetable, at roughly 52 pounds per person, per year, with tomatoes (31 pounds) and onions (8 pounds) rounding out the top three. Leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, didn’t even make the list. Considering the USDA suggests adults consume at least 1.5 to 2 cups of leafy greens per week, it’s clear most people come up short.

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What Is a Twitter Chat – 5 Reasons to Participate in a Tweetchat

twitterI remember the first time I logged onto Twitter. I was like a groundhog on Groundhog’s Day that popped up and saw its shadow – I was overwhelmed by the platform, confused by its purpose, and felt the immediate need to dive back into my Facebook hidey-hole and hibernate for another six weeks of winter.

Granted, that was a long time ago, and I have since come to understand the benefits the platform offers – namely, Twitter’s real-time ability to engage with any other user, anytime, anywhere, regardless of “friend” status.

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8 Best Flash Sale Sites to Buy Gifts

online shoppingGift giving on a holiday budget is never easy, but it’s far from impossible. The advent of online shopping brought with it many new and exciting ways to save money on gifts, including daily deal websites (such as Groupon), auction sites (such as eBay), and flash sale sites (such as Gilt and The Clymb).

If you’re not familiar with flash sale sites, the concept is derived from in-person flash sales common in fashion meccas, such as New York and Los Angeles. The idea is that for a limited time – usually just a few hours or days – shoppers score deep discounts on brand-name items.

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16 Tips for Better Online Video Chatting – Improve Quality & Appearance

video chatAs a freshman in college in the year 2000, I remember struggling mightily to pay my 400-minute monthly cell phone bill. I was trying to maintain a long-distance relationship with my boyfriend, but our time to talk was limited due to his packed baseball schedule, my two jobs, and, most of all, the fact that we’d only dated for a month before heading to separate schools. He’s my husband now – so it all worked out – but back then we needed to be able to get to know one another in a world that seemed stacked against us.

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4 Cheap & Healthy Specialty Foods You Can Make at Home (Recipes)

hummusI spend a ridiculous amount of money at the grocery store. This is partly because my husband and I almost never eat out (but we do eat a lot), and it’s partly because we buy an abundance of organic, high-quality food.

Over the last few years I’ve started trying new things in the kitchen, looking for ways to control our food costs. What I’ve discovered is that it’s actually very easy to make some of those high-dollar “specialty” foods at home – even the ones that people generally assume can only be bought at a store.

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