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Living on Minimum Wage – Is It Possible? (Live the Wage Challenge)

By Amy Livingston

minimum wageIn the summer of 2014, several prominent politicians made an unusual choice. For one week, they all voluntarily set aside their generous salaries and tried to live on just $7.25 an hour – the federal minimum wage.

No, they weren’t crazy. They were taking the Live the Wage Challenge.

This challenge was created as part of a campaign to raise the federal minimum wage, which hasn’t increased since 2009. The campaign encouraged politicians, bloggers, and others to try living for one week on minimum wage and write about it. The organizers set up a discussion on Twitter at #LiveTheWage for people to share their experiences. Their goal was to show people firsthand how difficult it is to live on $7.25 an hour and encourage them to support the wage hike.

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Wine Buying Guide – Tasting Basics, Types, What to Spend On

By Ellen Gans

wineChoosing a wine is like choosing a book: There are a million different options. You can get recommendations from a friend, but unless you really dive in and know what to look for, you’re taking a gamble on whether or not you’ll enjoy your selection.

Even if you rarely imbibe, it’s not a bad idea to get acquainted with wine. According to a Gallup poll, of the 64% of Americans who report having occasion to drink alcohol, 31% of them choose wine most often. That figure trails beer (you can thank the rise of craft breweries and home brewing for that), but solidly beats out liquor.

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How to Prepare Your House for Sale – 5 Home Staging Tips & Ideas

By Katherine Grayson

home staging kitchenProfessional home stagers are worth their weight in gold, and they know it. By making your home more appealing to prospective buyers, they can help sell it quickly and at a substantially higher price than an empty, white-walled, undecorated property would fetch.

But what if you don’t want to shell out the dollars required to nab a professional stager? Believe it or not, it is possible to do the job yourself – as long as you’re armed with the right knowledge. Whether your home is FSBO (“for sale by owner”) or you’re working with a real estate professional, use these steps to quickly and easily manage the staging process on your own, for far less outlay.

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What Is Umbrella Insurance – Do I Need a Policy?

By Amy Livingston

umbrella insuranceImagine that you’re just a few years away from a well-deserved retirement. You’ve got a sizable retirement account, plus a house and car that are fully paid off. Altogether, your assets amount to a little over a million dollars. In short, life is pretty good.

Then, one day, you get into a car crash. Fortunately, you’re not badly hurt, and the damage to your car is well within the limits of your auto insurance coverage. Unfortunately, the other car involved in the crash is full of executives from a large company – and their injuries, and the damage to the car, are much more serious.

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How to Become a Billionaire – 7 Characteristics of the Rich & Wealthy

By Michael Lewis

billionaireIn 1916, John D. Rockefeller, the father of the petroleum industry, became the world’s first billionaire. Nearly a century later in 2015, there were 536 American billionaires of a total 1,826 billionaires worldwide, according to Forbes. That number may in fact be low – the Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census estimates there were 2,325 billionaires globally in 2014, including 609 Americans.

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Composting 101: How to Make Compost & Fertilizer at Home

By Amy Livingston

compostMy husband and I are avid composters. All our kitchen and yard waste goes into a bin we built ourselves, and we pull out enough finished compost each year to feed about half of our vegetable garden. When my husband tells friends and coworkers about our setup, though, they often respond with a sigh, “Gee, I wish I could do that.”

If he asks them why they can’t, some of them explain that they just don’t have the time to build and maintain a compost pile. Others say that their yard isn’t big enough, or they don’t have a yard at all. And occasionally, some add that setting up a compost bin is too expensive for the small amount of vegetable waste they have.

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Do It Yourself (DIY) or Hire a Contractor for Home Improvement Projects?

By Amy Livingston

renovationWhen you buy a home, the money you pay up front is just the beginning. You’re also on the hook for a whole slew of ongoing expenses, including property tax, homeowners insurance, utilities – and, of course, repairs. According to mortgage lender Wells Fargo, homeowners should expect to spend between 1% and 2% of their home’s total price on repairs each year.

Mind you, that’s just for routine maintenance. If you have any major remodeling jobs in mind, plan to tack on a whole lot more. HomeAdvisor, a site that matches homeowners with contractors, claims that it costs an average of $9,000 to remodel a bathroom, $15,000 for a basement, and $20,000 for a kitchen.

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Reselling vs. Donating Unwanted Items for a Tax Deduction – What’s Better?

By Patricia Poladian

selling onlinePlenty of us have extra stuff lying around we’d love to get rid of. The question is, what’s the best way to go about it?

In some cases, it may make financial sense to resell books, clothing, furniture, and electronics on eBay, Craigslist, or at a garage sale. Sometimes, you’re better off donating items and claiming a tax deduction. The right answer depends on a few factors: how much free time you have on your hands, what kind of goods you want to get rid of, and your ability to claim charitable deductions.

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32 Cheap & Unique Father’s Day Gift Ideas to Show Dad You Care

By Mallory Hall

father's dayComing up with unique Father’s Day gift ideas can be difficult. Sure, you can always pick up another “Best Dad Ever” coffee mug or a tie to add to his ever-growing collection – but why not get him something fun and unique this year instead?

Fortunately, coming up with a way to show your dad, grandfather, or the father of your children that you care doesn’t have to drain your bank account. The following ideas are sure to fit into your budget and help turn this Father’s Day into more than just another day.

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Can Money Buy Happiness? – Understanding the Economics of Happiness

By Amy Livingston

can money buy happinessSuppose you’re looking for a job, and you have two offers on the table. Company A has offered you a salary of $100,000, but you happen to know that the average salary there is $200,000. Company B is willing to pay only $50,000, but the average worker there earns only $25,000.

If you prefer Company B, you’re not alone. According to a paper published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, more than half the respondents to a 1995 survey at the Harvard School of Public Health gave the same answer: They would rather make twice as much as their colleagues, even if it halved their actual income and buying power. This survey illustrates that in many cases, it’s not just what we have that makes us happier – it’s what we have compared to others.

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Is a Warehouse Store (Costco, Sam’s Club, BJ’s) Membership Worth It? – Costs, Pros & Cons

By Amy Livingston

warehouse club, photo by Alastair WallaceSmart-shopping blogs and magazines are teeming with stories about the great deals you can get on nearly everything – groceries, tires, vacations – at warehouse stores. Some financial writers even claim there’s simply no excuse for not belonging to a warehouse club if you live within driving distance to one. But there’s one obvious snag: Before you can fill up your cart with these bargains, you have to pay an annual fee of around $50 just to get in the door.

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9 Ideas for Hanging Out With Friends on a Tight Budget

By Michelle Smith

socializingIgnoring a friend’s phone call is a terrible thing to do, but I’ll admit I’ve done it for financial reasons. It wasn’t because I borrowed money I couldn’t repay, nor was I worried a friend was calling for a loan. The problem is that friendships are often like expensive subscriptions – it feels like you only get access when you pay your dues. And in the case of friends, dues come in the form of spending money.

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How to Choose the Best Gym Membership – Costs & Ways to Save

By Ellen Gans

gymIt’s no secret that the rates of obesity in the U.S. are staggering. According to the National Institutes of Health, more than two-thirds of American adults are overweight, and more half of those individuals are clinically obese. Carrying extra weight is associated with a host of health complications, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even some types of cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), these complications are behind some of the most common – and most preventable – causes of death.

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5 Best Types of Natural Cat Litter – How to Choose, Reviews

By Amy Livingston

cat litterThere’s no way around it: owning a pet isn’t cheap. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), new dog owners spend spend around $1,300 to $1,850 the first year, while cat owners typically spend more than $1,000.

Cat litter accounts for a surprisingly large chunk of that total cost – about $165 a year. In fact, the average cat owner actually spends more on litter than on food.

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14 Tips for Flea Market Shopping – What to Do & What to Avoid

By Mallory Hall

flea marketFlea market shopping can be both challenging and exciting, much like shopping at a garage sale, since you never know what you can find. Whether it’s held in a huge parking lot outside or in a smaller venues indoor, markets are often crowded.

But whatever the venue, there are certain tips, tricks, and things to avoid in order to make the flea market experience truly exciting and worth your time. Consider what to do and what not to do before you head out to ensure a successful, comfortable, and efficient experience.

What to Do

1. Plan Ahead

In order to have the most success at the flea market, plan ahead by taking the following steps:

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