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Thursday
Jul172014

Consumer News: Kindle Unlimited

 

Amazon.com may be set to debut an unlimited e-book subscription service based on pages that were posted to its website before being taken offline. Early on Wednesday, observers began noticing pages from the Seattle online retailing giant advertising “Kindle Unlimited” a service that will offer “unlimited access to over 600,000 [e-book] titles and thousands of audiobooks on any device for just $9.99 a month.”
Source: Forbes.com

 

 

Wednesday
Jul022014

23 Money-Saving Items Everyone Should Own

Can I get this cheaper?

This is a question that all thrifty shoppers ask themselves before opening their wallets. And well they should: Less expensive is good. But what about items that actually save you money over time? (See also: 101 Ways to Save Money Around the House)

It's time to pile savings on top of savings with these 23 money-saving items that everyone should own.

1. RECHARGEABLE BATTERIES

Remote controls, wall clocks, cameras, toys, smoke alarms. There are just too many items that take batteries around the house. Instead of shelling out big bucks for new batteries every month or so, invest in a set of rechargeable batteries. Not only will you stop wasting time running to the store, but also you will avoid the frustration of finding out that stored batteries have no charge. Just make sure to unplug the battery charger when not actively charging your batteries. Battery chargers continue to draw electricity even then.

2. EFFICIENT SHOWERHEADS

Showering accounts for about 17% of residential indoor water use. High efficiency showerheads optimize the amount of water that needs to flow through your hot water heater. By installing efficient shower heads, the average American family can save about $70 on water costs per year and more on water heating costs. Look for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's WaterSense label to ensure satisfactory showerhead performance.

3. OUTDOOR SOLAR POWERED MOTION ACTIVATED LIGHTS

Outdoor lights represent a challenge in many ways. By being on for several hours, they use a lot of electricity. Also, you need to remember to turn them off the next day or they keep ramping up your electricity bill. Harness the power of the sun and motion sensor technology and get solar powered motion activated lights. The lights draw energy from the sun during the day and activate only when they sense nearby movement.

4. ENERGY STAR WASHING MACHINE

The average American family does about 300 loads of laundry every year. An Energy Star certified washing machine uses about 20% less energy and 35% less water than conventional ones. If your washing machine is over 10 years old or a top loading model, you need to take action! It is estimated that if every household in the U.S. switched to an Energy Star washing machine, we would together save about $250 million every year!

5. ENERGY STAR CFLS

  • Change a single bulb for a CFL (compact fluorescent lamp), save $40 or more over the lifetime of the bulb
  • Change 5 bulbs for CFLs, save $200 or more over the lifetime of the bulbs.

Use this savings calculator to get a more accurate estimate on how much you can save based on your local electricity cost and desired type of bulbs.

6. BAKING SODA

At just a bit over $1.50 per pound, this is the ultimate household tool. With baking soda you can:

  • Wash produce.
  • Clean your grill.
  • Freshen up rugs.
  • Remove hard stains from clothes.
  • Wash your teeth.
  • Clean the dishwasher or coffee machine.
  • Treat throat infections.
  • Deodorize a cat litter box.
  • Fight dandruff.
  • Melt icy sidewalks.
  • Clean toilets.
  • And many more fantastic uses!

Think about how much you spend on products for each of these uses. Switch to baking soda and start saving money.

7. FOAM ROLLER

Chiropractors and massage therapists are expensive. The average rate for a massage is about $60 per hour. This doesn't mean that you should totally give up on taking care of your body. You can take care of your pain points and "knots" on your own with a foam roller. Starting at about $5, a foam roller is the most budget friendly way to take care of tight muscles and prevent common injuries. From hardcore runners to couch potatoes, everybody can benefit from a foam roller. (See also: Turn Your Home Into a Spa With These 5 Frugal Stress Relievers)

8. GROCERY AND SHOPPING BAGS

Stop wasting money on trash bags and reuse the bags that you get from grocery stores and retailers. Reduce and reuse. Grocery bags are perfect for bathroom trash cans, and bigger bags can be used for tall kitchen cans and certain diaper pails. Small grocery bags are perfect for keeping smelly kitchen residues, such as onion and garlic, contained. You save money and do your part in helping the environment.

9. REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE

Stop your plastic habit! If you buy a $6 water bottle case every week, you end up spending over $300 per year. This is before redemption fees and applicable taxes. Switch to a reusable water bottle and use those savings for a credit card payment. (See also: Stuff We Love: A Lifefactory Reusable Glass Water Bottle)

10. HERB GARDEN

Cooking at home is always cheaper than dining out. Fresh herbs are great to give your dishes that extra "oomph." However, buying fresh herbs, such as mint, basil, and parsley, can be quite expensive. If you have a spot that gets about six to seven hours of daily sunlight, such as a ledge on a kitchen window, you can have an indoor herb garden. You can pick only the amount that you need and let the rest double as a nice kitchen accent piece.

11. OLIVE OIL

Besides being great for cooking, olive oil helps you:

  • Moisturize your skin by drinking it and adding it to warm tub baths.
  • Preserving extra fresh herbs for later use.
  • Untangle your hair and moisturize damaged hair.
  • Prevent hairballs from your cat by adding a teaspoon into your cat's food.
  • Free stuck zippers by dipping a cue tip into olive oil and swabbing the zipper's teeth.

12. CANNING JAR

Attention wine drinkers: Save leftover wine for up to a week by storing leftover vino in a canning jar. It preserves the original flavor longer than just a cork and bottle, a method that only keeps the original flavor for a day or so. This tip is especially useful to prevent that $30 wine bottle from becoming vinegar in just a few days.

13. MOUTHWASH

At Walmart you can get a whole 1.5 liter bottle of mouthwash for around $5. Here's how to stretch that bottle even further:

  • Use as an antiseptic if you have no nearby alcohol.
  • Make a 50/50 solution of alcohol-based mouthwash and vinegar and treat nail fungus.
  • Treat athlete's foot with the same 50/50 solution.
  • Apply alcohol-based mouthwash to a cotton ball to your face as an astringent lotion.
  • Clean your windows.
  • Deodorize your toilet with a cup of mouthwash and let it sit for about 30 minutes before flushing.
  • Mix 4 parts of water to one part mouthwash in a spray bottle to help plants affected by mildew and fungus.

14. SPARE CHANGE JAR

Avoid the coins-in-couch cliche and get a spare change jar to keep all those coins around the house. In just a couple of months, you will be surprised how much you can save without even trying. Encourage your whole household to chip into the spare change jar. (See also: 20 Smart Ways to Spend Your Loose Change)

15. .EDU EMAIL ADDRESS

Ok, so this one isn't really an "item", but still. Current college students and past graduates that keep their .edu email active can often:

Some high school students may be eligible also for .edu email accounts so check with the student's educational institution.

16. CASH BACK AND REWARD CREDIT CARDS

Competition among credit cards is constantly increasing. There is no need to be tied to a card that offers neither rewards nor cash back offers. With cash back credit cards offering up to 2%, it is amazing how some companies will pay you to use their credit cards. If cashback is not your cup of tea, then there are also gas rewards cards and air miles programs.

17. VACUUM SEALER

This is one of the kitchen gadgets that can save you the most money. A vacuum sealer allows you to buy items in bulk and not have any of them spoil. Think beyond meat, poultry, and seafood. How many times have you bought a two-pound basket of strawberries at low prices during the summer, only for over half of it to spoil? With a vacuum sealer, you can seal half and freeze it for later use. Zero waste.

18. BLENDER

Some people gotta have their daily Jamba Juice fix. With the cheapest smoothies starting at $4, this habit can cost you about $120 per month. Save money by making your own smoothies at home with a blender. With $20 or less you can get a blender. Not only you save money, but you can control the amount of sugar and extra calories that go into your drinks.

19. ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH

My wife has the most beautiful smile. Every time that she goes to the dentist, she passes the checkup with flying colors. Her secret is that since she turned 29, she followed the advice from her dentist to switch to an electric toothbrush. Ever since that switch, she has been able to minimize the amount of additional necessary dental work during her visits, which lowers our medical bills. (See also: The 5 Best Electric Toothbrushes)

20. TWITTER ACCOUNT

Another non-item item,Twitter is not only for catching up your friends and the latest news. It can be a major tool for savings. (See also: 3 Easy Ways to Save With Twitter)

  • Several retailers release Twitter-specific flash deals, giveaways, and coupon codes.
  • Customer service reps are under pressure to give outstanding service in this public format.
  • Some companies, such as American Express, are willing to sync your Twitter account to its online platform for perks and special services.

21. SQUARE OR PAYPAL HERE

How many times have you tried to collect from a friend who owes you money and she gets away because she doesn't have cash on her? Fix this problem by using your smartphone as a credit card processing machine with the Square or Paypal Here apps. Both companies ship you a credit card reader for free — nothing else is needed. Square and Paypal do take around a 2.7% cut but a payment in hand is better than an IOU.

22. WHATSAPP

If you have friends and relatives abroad, sending text messages is very convenient but gets expensive quite fast. Even if you sign up for an international SMS plan through your cell carrier, you're looking at about $0.25 per SMS, depending on carrier and country.

The reason why Whatsapp is superior than other international messaging apps is that the app is designed for virtually every smartphone. Even though my Mom uses a Blackberry and lives in Ecuador, my sister uses a Nokia and lives in Germany, my wife uses an iPhone, and I use an Galaxy S3, we are all able to text with each other from our own phones. I used to spend over $50 in international SMS and now I spend zero. That's four of us not spending a dime while keeping in touch across the world.

23. CROCKPOT

crockpot is a lifesaver for busy people. You know that eating at home is cheaper, but often there is just no time to prepare a meal. With a crockpot you just need to chop up your ingredients, throw some spices, and you are good to go. You can leave a crockpot running before leaving for work or overnight to have a meal ready for you when you come back from work or to take there for lunch. (See also: 25 Cheap and Easy Crockpot Recipes)

What is your favorite money-saving item?

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Sunday
Jun222014

Where to Find Free Product Coupons

Here are the best places to find FREE product coupons!

Companies that Like to Show the Facebook-Freebie Love:

Bath and Body Works
Redbox
Suave
Yankee Candle

Tip: Set up a Google Alert for the phrase "Facebook freebie," and you'll be among the first to know when a new deal goes live.

Rebate

Get serious about rebating. It's a great way to earn both rebate checks and free product coupons.

Check Out:

Contact Manufacturers

Make a list of the products that you use regularly (food, cleaners, toiletries, etc.). Then, email the manufacturer of each one to let them know what you think of their product – good or bad. A bit of feedback could (and likely will) net you a mailbox full of coupons for freebies.

Sign Up for Product Tests

Agree to test products for companies, and they'll hook you up with plenty of loot (free product coupons included).

A Couple Test Sites to Sign Up For:

Kraft
Vocalpoint (P&G)

Spread the Word About New Products

Businesses know word-of-mouth advertising (WOM) is powerful stuff. Sign up to spread the word about new products; and they'll send you coupons, so you can try them first.

WOM Sites to Sign Up For:

BzzAgent
House Party

Friday
Jun202014

19 Ways Supermarkets Get You to Spend More Money

Here is some good info on how stores get you to spend more money! From Buzzfeed.com. 

 

Sunday
Jun152014

How to Get Magazines for Cheap

YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY

There are so many free goodies to be had at the library, one of which includes an extensive collection of magazines. Not only do libraries have current copies, but they will usually have backdated copies as well. They might even have copies of magazines that aren't currently being published.

DOCTORS' OR DENTAL OFFICES

In waiting rooms, you'll usually see a collection of magazines to thumb through. Ask the receptionist if you can take the old copies when they get new ones. They are usually pretty accommodating.

ONLINE FORUMS

Slickdeals.net is a cool forum that specifically features awesome free subscriptions, so it's a good source to check out once in a while. Past deals have included Every Day With Rachel Ray and Better Homes and Gardens. 

MAGAZINE GIVEAWAY SITES

Some sites like RewardsGoldMecury Magazines, and FreeBizMag will give you free magazines if you fill out a questionnaire and qualify for the freebies. Always read the fine print when you're signing up for these sites, and be careful when reading the emails they send out.

SUBSCRIPTIONS

Subscribe to your favorite magazines to enjoy huge discounts. You can either go to the official site or visit sites like Amazon and Magazines.com, which offer the same popular magazine titles at up to an 80 percent discount. You can also get a mail-in subscription signup form from the pages of the magazine.

DAILY DEALS

Magazine subscriptions often pop up on daily deals with phenomenal savings, so keep an eye out for them if there is a magazine you've been wanting to subscribe to.

REDEEM AWARDS

If you have travel or credit card points that you need to use up, you can opt to redeem a magazine subscription. If the point program doesn't let you redeem the points for magazines, then there are magazine subscription services that let you exchange points for free subscriptions, such as magformiles.

HOLD A MAGAZINE SWAP

Pick a good time for your magazine swap, and invite a bunch of people to come over with magazines. Not only will you get a chance to get rid of the magazines you've already read, but you'll also be able to get new ones for free. The people you hang out with tend to share common interests, so there's a good chance that you'll be interested in the magazines they like.

And when you're done with the magazines, don't trash them — here are some great ideas for upcycling them. You can even turn the scraps of paper into cute magnets!

Magazines are fun to read — but buying them at the store can get crazy expensive. Learn how to get magazine fix and save.
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Guest Post Blurb: 
This is a guest contribution from our friends at POPSUGAR Smart Living. Check out more useful articles from this partner:
Wednesday
Jun042014

The Basics of Herbs

 

Herbs were always something my grandma grew in little pots on her windowsill in her kitchen. Here is a handy herb chart to refer to.

Wednesday
Jun042014

10 Ways to Clean With Vinegar


Image: Nomadic Lass

 

  1. Refrigerator – mix one tablespoon vinegar to 16 ounces water and put in a spray bottle – spray on shelves and walls on interior of refrigerator and wipe clean.
  2. Garbage Disposal – pour ¼ cup vinegar in disposal and let sit for a couple minutes. Run cold water in disposal and turn on disposal to clean.
  3. Toilets – pour ½ cup to a cup in the toilet bowl. Let sit for a couple hours, swish and flush.
  4. Tile and grout (sealed) – make a past of baking soda and vinegar and scrub on scummy tile. Rinse with warm water.
  5. Dish Washer – measure 1 cup of vinegar and pour in the bottom of your EMPTY dishwasher. Run as usual.
  6. Washing Machine – measure ½ cup vinegar and ½ cup water and put in your detergent drawer (for front loaders) or right in the wash basin for top loaders. Run through a normal cycle. When the cycle has completed, wipe the rubber seal with a wet cloth and leave the door open to air out.
  7. Floors – The correct ratio of water to white vinegar is ½ cup white vinegar to 1 gallon of warm/hot water.
  8. Stainless Steel – mix one tablespoon vinegar to 16 ounces water and put in a spray bottle – spray on a microfiber cloth and wipe clean.
  9. Coffee Maker – fill coffee pot with equal parts water and vinegar. Pour in the water dispenser and run coffee pot as normal. Empty water and vinegar from coffee pot and run 2-3 cycles with just water. Wipe with clean, wet dish cloth until clean.
  10. Carpet – use an equal parts ratio of water to vinegar and rinse thoroughly.
Wednesday
Jun042014

Borax: 10 Uses Around the House

 

 

You might remember Borax being a staple in your mom or grandmother's homes. Well, it's still a must-have for every home. There are so many uses, here are 10 to get you started!

  • Add 1/4 cup to your toilet and let sit for 30 minutes then scrub
  • Make a paste to clean tub and shower
  • Make a paste and is great to clean the bathrooms
  • Unclog drains by pouring 1/2 cup Borax down the drain then following with 2 cups of boiling water.
  • Make a Paste of Borax and lemon juice use to scrub appliances
  • Sprinkle it in your garbage disposal
  • Make a paste on sponges to clean  oven.
  • Laundry booster
  • Removes hard water
  • Make homemade laundry detergent