How to Get Free Stuff at Free Stores & Swap Shops (or Start Your Own)

RRFM photo by Steven DepoloEverybody loves a bargain. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of walking out of a store with a jacket that was originally priced at $300, knowing you paid only $30. But just imagine for a minute how it would feel if you could walk out of the store with that same jacket for free.

It’s absolutely possible – if you shop at free stores. These are like an offline version of the Freecycle Network: You can just go in and drop off all those unwanted, but still perfectly usable items that have been cluttering up your house, and in turn, you can help yourself to anything that anyone else has left. No money ever changes hands.

Click to continue reading...

How to Shop at Reuse Centers & Architectural Salvage Stores to Save on Home Improvement

salvageA national spending study by American Express shows that about 75% of all homeowners do home improvement projects each year, spending more than $4,000 each. Materials account for a big chunk of this spending. For instance, floor tile for a bathroom can cost as much as $20 per square foot, which would add up to $2,400 for a 10-by-12-foot bathroom.

One way to cut down this cost is to shop for secondhand materials. Reuse centers and architectural salvage stores, such as the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, sell salvaged and surplus home construction materials at a fraction of their retail cost.

Click to continue reading...

9 Things New Parents Should Wait to Buy for a Newborn Baby

infantRegistering for or purchasing baby supplies may be one of the most intimidating jobs for a parent-to-be. There’s a seemingly endless array of brands and styles, and a quick search on Pinterest or Etsy can leave anyone feeling overwhelmed.

When shopping online and reading reviews, you may find strong opinions among parents and caregivers who are convinced that a certain brand or product is the only acceptable one. Of course, as soon as you’ve read one review, the next one may sway you in the complete opposite direction. However, once you do decide what to buy, you’ve got to decide when to buy.

Click to continue reading...

7 Ways a Bad Credit Score Can Negatively Affect You – How to Track Your Credit Score

bad creditWhen you swipe a credit card or take out a loan to make a purchase, you probably don’t think of the experience as a test of your personal integrity or reliability. You’re more interested in how you’ll feel behind the wheel of your new car, walking through your new home’s kitchen, or sitting in front of your new flat-screen TV.

But your creditors don’t care about how your purchasing habits improve your personal happiness or quality of life. They just want to recover the money they lent you – with interest.

Click to continue reading...

Ready for Kids? – 12 Financial Moves to Make to Prepare Beforehand

young familyMy husband and I were married for several years before we were ready to even talk about having kids. We wanted time to travel, build our careers, and simply be together without having to worry about diaper changes and pediatrician appointments.

Once we were ready to consider a family, we came up with a checklist of financial criteria we needed to meet before taking the plunge. It was a daunting task, but we wanted to make sure we were financially stable before bringing children into the mix.

Click to continue reading...

How to Use Reloadable Prepaid Cards for Budgeting and When It Makes Sense

Sponsorship Disclosure: A huge thanks to Green Dot and Visa Clear Prepaid for working with us to bring you this content.

prepaid debitI’m the first to admit that I’m not always faithful to my personal budget. While I’m frugal by nature, I have weak spots, like the occasional nice meal out or live sporting event. Some months, these vices make it harder for me to reach my financial goals.

The consolation is that I’m far from being alone in this predicament. For numerous reasons, many consumers find it difficult to stick to their monthly spending budgets. But what if there were another way?

Click to continue reading...

Understanding Why Budgets Fail – 8 Steps to Fix a Broken Budget

budgetA Pew poll from March 2015 reports that more than 80% of Americans are concerned about their savings, and seven out of ten worry whether they have enough money to cover their expenses. Yet since 1960, the personal saving rate in the United States has been inconsistent and generally trending downward, ranging from a high of 17.0% in May 1975 to a low of 1.9% in July 2005, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis as reported by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. In April 2015, the rate clawed its way up to 5.6%.

Click to continue reading...

What Is a Community Garden – Benefits & How to Start Your Own

community gardenThere’s nothing quite as satisfying as growing your own fresh flowers and vegetables in a home garden. Especially if you spend most of your day sitting behind a desk, it’s a welcome change of pace to spend some time outdoors, working with your hands and feeling physically connected to the Earth. And although a garden can be a lot of work, it more than pays for itself in tender lettuce and juicy, homegrown tomatoes that taste far superior to anything you can buy at the supermarket.

Click to continue reading...

8 Things That Are Becoming Less Affordable for the Middle Class

financial strainWe may think that an ever-advancing, high-tech society means our standard of living is improving. However, many people insist that the present-day quality of life isn’t what it used to be – at least not for the middle class. This is because it doesn’t always matter whether people earn more money than in years past – if it doesn’t have the same proportional buying power, they can feel serious financial strain and become heavily indebted.

Click to continue reading...

What Is DIF Insurance (Massachusetts Depositors Insurance Fund) – How It Works

Boston photo by Jay YuanIf you have a bank account – or even if not – you’ve likely heard of FDIC insurance. FDIC insurance is deposit insurance overseen by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, a federal entity created by the Banking Act of 1933.

FDIC insurance guarantees the safety of deposits in checking, savings, and CD accounts held with FDIC member banks. When a member bank fails, the FDIC reimburses each depositor up to $250,000 per account. As of mid-2015, there are about 6,400 FDIC member banks, according to the FDIC.

Click to continue reading...