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10 Year-End Tax Planning Strategies to Save More Money

By Michael Lewis

determining tax deductionsDespite what Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon calls “a rotting economic carcass that’s infected with chronic diseases like loopholes and inefficiencies,” federal tax reform is unlikely to occur until after the U.S. presidential election in 2016. Deadlock between the political parties is likely to continue, especially in light of Republicans gaining control of both houses of government during the November 2014 elections.

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11 Fun New Year’s Eve Party Ideas for Food, Games & Decorations

By Clara Edd

happy new yearPicture a great New Year’s Eve party at your home with all your friends: Sparkling decorations and candles all about. Your guests take hilarious photos, dance with loud, crazy noisemakers, and enjoy a selection of appetizers. When the clock strikes 12, you toast with champagne and feast on a midnight supper.

This scenario has to cost a fortune, right? Well, not necessarily. With a few money-saving tricks up your sleeve, you can host a great New Year’s party on a budget that people will be talking about for a long time to come. From food, to refreshments, to games, you can cut costs everywhere without sacrificing any of the fun! And if your New Year’s resolution is to save money, this is a great place to start.

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How to Make Decorative Push Pin or Thumbtack Art

By Laura Williams

pushpin-artI’m always looking for easy and inexpensive ways to add art to my walls, and because I tend to be a bit fickle, I’m drawn to projects that I can complete multiple times with different motifs. After seeing some cool-looking push pin art projects on Etsy that cost between $20 and $30 to buy, I decided I’d try my hand at making a few of my own for a fraction of the cost.

Luckily, the skill level is minimal – you just have to be willing to try – and the time commitment is small. It took me about 45 minutes to complete each of my projects.

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How to Get More YouTube Subscribers and Increase Video Views

By Laura Williams

youtube web browserYouTube is currently the second-largest search engine in the world, boasting more than one billion unique visitors per month and more than 100 hours of video uploaded to the site every hour. And while the sheer volume of content and visitors may make you feel like the market is saturated, limiting the reach of your own channel or content, think again. According to YouTube’s statistics, millions of people subscribe to YouTube channels every day, with daily subscription rates quadrupling year-over-year.

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6 Ways to Handle Gift Giving on a Tight Budget

By Laura Williams

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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6 Fashion Rules to Ignore to Save Money on Clothes

By Jacqueline Curtis

shoppingIt’s one thing to consider yourself fashionable, but it’s another thing to stubbornly follow so-called “fashion rules” despite a tight personal budget. Sure, “Vogue” might promise that pastels are hot this season, but you don’t need to follow every industry trend and rule to be considered fashionable.

From an industry standpoint, so-called rules are typically put in place to entice you to spend more money. After all, if it was deemed acceptable to wear white after Labor Day, you might not be as anxious to invest in darker colors come September.

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

By Laura Williams

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

By Laura Williams

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

By Laura Williams

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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Bike Commuting: Health, Time & Safety Considerations of Biking to Work

By Brian Martucci

bike on roadAccording to the Alliance for Walking & Biking’s 2014 Benchmarking Report, 91.6% of American commuters drive to work. That compares to 5% who use public transit, 2.8% who walk, and just 0.6% who bike. In larger cities, walking and transit get a much larger share of total commutes: 17.2% and 5%, respectively. Biking is still the laggard, at just 1%. Of course car commuting remains the overwhelming favorite, making up more than three-quarters of all trips.

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7 Bad Clothes Shopping Habits to Break Now

By Jacqueline Curtis

shoppingA love-hate relationship with shopping is all too common. Spending hours at the mall or scooping up deals online can be a fun treat on occasion, but your spending habits can get completely out of control if you’re not careful. For some people, shopping has the same endorphin-inducing effect that comes from exercise or falling in love – some people just can’t say no. Shopping can also become a bit of a crutch, especially if you use those new clothing and accessories as a way to combat negative emotions.

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9 Tips to Save on Women’s Plus-Size Fashion & Clothing

By Jacqueline Curtis

plus size clothesThe plus-size fashion industry raked in more than $16.2 billion in revenue, and if you wear plus-size clothes, you know the cost of fashion all too well. Unfortunately, plus-size fashion is often priced at a premium, making it difficult to stay within your personal budget. According to the CDC, the average American woman has a waist circumference of 37.5 inches and a dress size of 14, which is typically considered plus size. It’s clear that more and more of the population is demanding that plus-size fashion be offered to the masses at a decent price.

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

By Laura Williams

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

By Laura Williams

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

By Laura Williams

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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