What to Do With Unwanted Holiday Gifts – How to Return, Exchange & Regift

In National Retail Federation surveys about which gifts people want for the holidays, the number one answer, year after year, is a gift card. Many people would rather pick out their own presents than have someone else guess what they want – and maybe guess wrong. Sure, getting a gift card isn’t as much fun as being surprised with something wonderful that you’ve always wanted, or something amazing that you never knew existed. But at least there’s no risk of ending up with something that just isn’t right for you at all.

Click to continue reading...

What Is the Tiny House Movement – Plans, Resources, Pros & Cons

As a rule, Americans like their houses big. The United States Census Bureau reports that in the year 2014, the average size of a new house in the U.S. was more than 2,400 square feet. American houses have more than twice as much space as British, Italian, or Japanese houses, and three times as much as those in Russia or China, according to the environmental website Shrink That Footprint.

Yet even as typical new houses grow larger and larger, some Americans are bucking the trend. They’re choosing to live in houses with no more than 500 square feet of space – less than one-quarter the size of the average new house.

Click to continue reading...

Join Us on Twitter for a Chat About Money Habits for the New Year on Dec 18th at 4PM EST

jonnelle-marteThis Friday, we will be holding a TweetChat with the topic of Money Habits for the New Year in mind from 4-5pm EST. Our guest will be Jonnelle Marte.

Simply follow @MoneyCrashers and participate in the chat with hashtag #MCchat on Twitter and you will be entered in the prize draw (two winners for $15 Amazon gift cards).

An easy way to follow along and participate in #MCchat is by using our Twitter Chat Room at http://www.twubs.com/MCchat. We hope to see you there!

Click to continue reading...

Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card Review – A No-Frills Debit Card

kaiku-visa-prepaid-cardNeed a no-frills prepaid debit card that helps you manage your day-to-day spending? The Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card is definitely worth a closer look.

The Kaiku Visa Prepaid Card belongs to the Visa Clear Prepaid family of reloadable prepaid debit cards. Like its Visa Clear stablemates, the card has a clearly outlined and super-straightforward fee schedule that eliminates billing surprises and makes it easy to create a monthly budget. Its practical approach is matched by sleek, millennial-friendly branding, complete with six neon-ish card color options and a defiant slogan: “A New Way to Everyday.”

Click to continue reading...

Preparing for Twins – Baby Essentials Checklist & Costs

When my husband and I set out to have a second child, we were excited at the idea of giving our son a sibling. Little did we know that we’d wind up giving him two new siblings at once.

When we got over the shock of discovering that were having twins, we started to rethink our budget. We’d initially planned to reuse most of our son’s baby gear to keep our new baby expenses to a minimum, but a second baby meant we needed additional items.

Click to continue reading...

What Is Organic Food – Definition, Benefits & Cost Analysis

The organic food market has experienced unprecedented growth over the last several years, and today the U.S. market tops $39 billion per year, according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA). The OTA has also reported double-digit growth for the organic food market every year since the 1990s, and a 2014 Consumer Reports study found that 84% of shoppers report having deliberately purchased an organic grocery product.

Even so, there are still a few elements holding the organic food market back from complete dominance: the additional costs associated with buying organic, confusion over what organic really means, and what, if any, health advantages are associated with organic food.

Click to continue reading...

What Are Pop-Up Retail Stores – Benefits and How to Support Them

Picture a business district in your area with a lot of stores sitting empty. It shouldn’t be too hard to think of one: A 2014 study by the National Association of Counties (NACo) shows that six years after the official end of the Great Recession, most local economies still struggle to regain lost ground. Neighborhoods are recovering, but slowly, and that means a lot of Main Streets across America are dotted with empty storefronts.

Now imagine new businesses suddenly popping up, practically overnight, all along that street. Within the space of a few weeks, half a dozen new shops open, selling everything from used books to handmade jewelry. All of a sudden, the street is a vibrant, bustling business district once again.

Click to continue reading...

How Celebrity Athletes, Actors & Musicians Go Broke – When Fames Doesn’t Equal Riches

When Grammy award-winning rapper Curtis James Jackson III – also known as 50 Cent – filed for bankruptcy, it left a lot of people scratching their heads. 50 Cent, one of the world’s bestselling rappers, has sold more than 30 million albums throughout his career. If someone with his fame and fortune has to resort to bankruptcy, what hope is there for the rest of us to make ends meet?

Unfortunately, 50 Cent’s story is by no means unique. Musical artists, athletes, film actors, models, television stars, and other celebrities routinely file for bankruptcy. Even A-listers with incredible success can run into financial problems if they spend beyond their means, no matter how significant those means are.

Click to continue reading...

Planning for Maternity Leave – Length, Pay & Insurance Options

At the time I became pregnant with my first baby, I was a full-time, salaried employee at an established 500-person company. Because I didn’t start showing until close to the end of my second trimester, I chose to hold off on revealing my pregnancy until I absolutely had to.

Once I had no choice, I met with my boss and HR representative to discuss my maternity leave. They had a number of questions for me: Was I planning to return? How many weeks was I hoping to take off? And was I aiming to work up until my due date? Of course, I had plenty of questions myself: Who would take over my job responsibilities while I was out? How long would my job be held for? And, most importantly, how much of my salary would I receive while out on maternity leave?

Click to continue reading...

How to Become a Vegetarian – Diet Types, Benefits & Challenges

When you picture a typical American meal, chances are you see a big slice of meat in the center of the plate. From the Thanksgiving turkey to the Fourth of July cookout, the typical American diet is definitely heavy on meat. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average American eats 114 pounds per year of red meat, 67 pounds of poultry, and 15 pounds of fish.

There are exceptions to this rule, however. According to a 2012 Gallup poll, about 5% of all Americans are vegetarians – people who consume no meat at all, or almost none. Vegetarians range from strict vegans, who eat no animal products of any kind, to “flexitarians,” who simply try to limit their meat intake as much as possible.

Click to continue reading...