Frugal Nation http://money.msn.com/frugal-living/default.aspx Frugal living and how to save money http://money.msn.com/frugal-living/post--get-paid-to-buy-stuff Get paid to buy stuff Cash-back shopping sites pay rebates on the stuff you want to buy. It's not a license to overspend, though. Fri, 06 Jun 2014 23:01:33 -0700 Donna_Freedman 457d3544-4c18-4b6c-b924-c3c5f7f0fe51 ef22ca64-f6f4-47ea-965d-a513d1dcc746 BlogArticle B78676EAEBE0C447 2 3 2012-03-21T16:40:15.487 Cash-back shopping sites pay rebates on the stuff you want to buy. It's not a license to overspend, though. Need to buy clothes, rent a car, send flowers, subscribe to a magazine, book a trip, order a computer, look for a soul mate, stock up on kitty litter or research your family history? Make sure you get a discount when you do it, by using a cash-back website. Cash-back sites are affiliate marketers. They get a finder's fee each time they send a new shopper to an online merchant and split that money with the consumer. In other words, you'll still be buying Fido's kibble from Petco. You'll just be getting an 8% rebate to do so. Which are the best cash-back sites? So glad you asked. Becky Ford of CompareRewards.com does an annual analysis and comparison of cash-back sites. This year's report gives highest honors to a program called Extrabux.com. (Post continues after video.) "If you want to shop through just one rewards program . . . you can't do better than Extrabux," says Ford, who for 10 years has written about cash-back shopping, survey sites and loyalty programs. But why stop at one? It pays to compare, because the sites may offer exclusive discounts and coupons or temporarily higher cash-back rates. Sites like Cashbacktool.com or Cashbackmonitor.com let you compare rates from some of the better-known cash-back companies. Coming in second and third place in Ford's findings are Shop At Home.com and Mr. Rebates. Honorable mention went to FatWallet.com, Best Buy's Reward Zone Online Mall and Ebates.   It's free to sign up. Use a separate email since you'll be getting at least weekly communiqués. Read these, because you may find a free shipping code or double cash-back on an item you need. Read the FAQs, too. This can keep you from making a rookie error such as using a coupon or shipping code you found somewhere else. That would likely void your cash-back deal. If the site has a reader forum, check it out. FatWallet readers in particular are supersavvy deal hounds and post hot deals as soon as they find them. Don’t overdo it Understand: Cash-back sites are not an excuse to shop indiscriminately. They're just another way of saving money on things you actually need. The variety of merchants is staggering, from drugstores to domain names to dating sites. So if you're looking to buy something, don't automatically go directly to the merchant's online store. Check a few cash-back sites first. You might be pleasantly surprised. A few other things to keep in mind: What's the payout threshold? How often can you ask for a check or direct deposit? How are payments made? Does the site often get exclusive discounts or codes?Don't forget to log in before you shop. If you forget, you won't receive your rebate. Period. Put a note on the computer to remind yourself, so you don't miss a good deal. More on MSN Money: When a store's deal isn't a good deal Save by spending $5 more a week 25 freebies for your birthday The issue with the cash back comparison sites, sometimes they fail to address all sites out there. Fatwallet is good, but my personal experience, they don't have as much variety as sites like http://www.pandacashback.com BlogArticle frugal online shopping saving money shopping http://money.msn.com/frugal-living/post--get-free-gift-cards-from-swagbucks Get free gift cards from Swagbucks The popular online program lets you earn Amazon cards, PayPal cash and other rewards. Wed, 25 Jun 2014 08:57:49 -0700 Donna_Freedman 457d3544-4c18-4b6c-b924-c3c5f7f0fe51 11c39299-2b04-4c47-9371-82de7803ff2c BlogArticle B78676EAEBE0C447 2 2 2012-03-02T19:02:34.907 The popular online program lets you earn Amazon cards, PayPal cash and other rewards. Swagbucks bought my underwear. Not from me -- for me. I earned Amazon gift cards from the rewards site and used them to buy long johns for a two-month trip to Alaska late last year.  (Now that I live here full-time, I'm finding those snuggies quite useful.) Wool socks, too, and some Horlicks malt beverage for my hostess up north. The cards also helped me pay for Christmas presents (read " Christmas for less than $100") and for things like flax seed, quinoa and vitamins. It's great when your get-healthy New Year's resolution costs nothing out of pocket. (Post continues after video.) I think Swagbucks is the best rewards program out there. Here's why: You can earn seven to 59 points at a time just by using its search engine. There's never been a day when I didn't win at least twice; usually I win three to five times daily. Survey opportunities (some as short as 10 minutes) appear throughout the day. Generally they're worth between 50 and 150 points. Recently a survey paid 10,000. Everyone qualifies for the one-question daily poll. You can earn points by watching movie trailers on your smartphone or by viewing short videos (generally 30 seconds to three minutes). You can also earn by buying stuff (which I don't) and through the usual mix of "special offers," such as Netflix memberships. An hourly random drawing awards 4,000 points. "Swag Code" clues, good for extra points are released almost every day, sometimes two or three times per day.Worth my time Sound complicated? It isn't. I'm probably one of the least-savvy Swagbucks users out there, yet I earn points steadily. Sometimes I've gotten 100 or more per day just through the search engine. Although you can cash in for physical prizes, gift cards are "our most popular item," according to spokesman Scott Dudelson. Cards are available for restaurants and retailers as well as for Amazon.com and PayPal.   A $5 Amazon card costs 450 points; a $5 PayPal one is 700. Points add up quickly, though, especially if you get bonuses for referring new users. For specifics, visit the site's FAQ section. How much you earn depends on how much time you want to spend. On the Facebook page, many “Swaggernauts” post daily earnings in the hundreds or thousands. I'm nowhere near that productive. But I'm persistent, and I've had some referrals, so every month I add up to an additional $25 worth of Amazon scrip to my account. Christmas will be here before you know it. I might also want to buy more socks. More on MSN Money: Free gift cards -- yes, really! 25 freebies for your birthday Free tickets to 150 museums Check out http://tinyurl.com/trynearn BlogArticle free frugal saving money http://money.msn.com/frugal-living/post.aspx?post=0a0c6351-3450-41a2-9a46-bf06ba8cfe4e Big changes for Frugal Nation Starting Monday, this site is joining forces with MSN Money Smart Spending. Here's why. Tue, 29 Jul 2014 12:27:38 -0700 Donna_Freedman 457d3544-4c18-4b6c-b924-c3c5f7f0fe51 0a0c6351-3450-41a2-9a46-bf06ba8cfe4e BlogArticle B78676EAEBE0C447 7 5 2013-03-29T16:14:13.93 Starting Monday, this site is joining forces with MSN Money Smart Spending. Here's why. Almost six years ago MSN Money hired me and editor Karen Datko to start the Smart Spending blog. Personal finance blogging was still in the toddler stage, and our goal was to be unlike any other site: five or six posts each weekday, a mix of general financial info and "use this tip to save money right now" pieces. In 2009 I was given a biweekly personal finance column, and in February 2012 I was asked to start the Frugal Nation blog. Now things are about to change again: Beginning Monday this site will go dormant and I'll be joining -- I should say re-joining -- Smart Spending. The more things change, the more they remain the same. The first year-plus at Smart Spending was shaped by the major recession that knocked so many people off their financial foundations. Karen and I focused on delivering specific, practical information about saving money on food, shelter, insurance, transportation and health care. We covered unemployment, debt repayment, credit cards, couponing, student loans, the job search, raising children, frugal entertainment and just about every other aspect of surviving an economy turned upside-down. The strongest possible mix Over time Smart Spending has broadened its coverage of personal finance issues like budgeting, credit scores, entrepreneurship, debt repayment, homebuying and planning for retirement. There's also an increasing emphasis on financial news and how it affects the average reader. By combining the two sites, MSN Money will ensure the strongest possible mix of personal finance, frugality and news topics. Five days a week the site will publish:  Original reporting and writing from me and other contributors. Articles from partner sites such as Money Talks News, Wise Bread, Get Rich Slowly and Len Penzo dot com. Guest posts from a wide variety of personal finance bloggers.The PF blogosphere has changed a lot since Smart Spending began. Back then only a few writers focused on money. Now thousands jostle for attention. Smart Spending always has, and always will, run the best of the best -- a sort of Reader's Digest for the money-minded. That means you. Not everyone wants to become a captain of industry, but you should certainly want to captain your own financial ship. Come over to Smart Spending and learn about smart money practices, clever frugal hacks and how the news of the day affects the non-newsmakers. I'll miss Frugal Nation, but its focus on saving money and living intentionally will continue to be heard. I'm changing my address, not my philosophy. See you next week. More on MSN Money: 'Frugal' doesn't mean 'deprived' 8 ways to spring-clean your finances What keeps you from saving? I'm finding alternative retailers offering just as good, if not better prices on these products. OfficeSupply.com is offering back to school items at what seem like better prices.  http://www.officesupply.com/4168-a-making-the-grade-back-to-school-2014.html BlogArticle financial planning frugal frugal living saving money spending http://money.msn.com/frugal-living/post.aspx?post=7c700dc7-3881-424f-8c4b-48f6b6bea8d2 New T-Mobile plan not right for everyone The carrier's new iPhone offer still means a long-term commitment, but it could save you money. Tue, 06 Aug 2013 11:35:01 -0700 Donna_Freedman 457d3544-4c18-4b6c-b924-c3c5f7f0fe51 7c700dc7-3881-424f-8c4b-48f6b6bea8d2 BlogArticle B78676EAEBE0C447 14 17 2013-03-28T17:11:57.7 The carrier's new iPhone offer still means a long-term commitment, but it could save you money. T-Mobile this week rebranded itself as the "uncarrier" by doing away with cellphone contracts. The company also announced it will add the iPhone to its smartphone roster in April. No contract? Really? Sort of. If you're buying the phone from T-Mobile then you are under contract, notes Jordan Crooks of TechCrunch, who called the announcement "a marketing move."   "By tying the contract to your phone and not the service, the carrier instantly differentiates itself from the competition," Crooks says. One major difference: Once the phone is paid off, your cell bill will drop by $20 per month. That's because you're buying that iPhone on the installment plan: $100 upfront and $20 per month for two years. If you choose instead to pay for the phone outright, or if you bring your own phone to the deal, then it really will be a no-contract plan, for which you'll pay $50 to $70 per month depending on the type of service. Is that cheaper than competing carriers? Hard to say, since consumers' needs and speeds vary so widely. For every gearhead who needs the latest-generation everything and constantly texts and streams video, there's a tech slowpoke like me still using a 5-year-old flip phone for voice calls only. Apples to apples? In a post on Wired.com, Christina Bonnington says the T-Mobile plan is "totally comparable, if not better, than current alternatives." The accompanying chart shows total two-year costs as follows:  T-Mobile, $1,780 AT&T, $1,640 Verizon, $2,120 Sprint, $2,120 This isn't a straightforward comparison because the four companies' plans vary. For example, AT&T's plan is for 300 MB per month and pay-as-you-go texting versus T-Mobile's 500 MB plan with unlimited texting. If you want the phone just for straight calling, then AT&T would look like a slightly cheaper deal -- except that AT&T charges extra for voice. T-Mobile's biggest issue is probably not price, but coverage. According to New York Times reporter Brian X. Chen, the company has steadily hemorrhaged customers due to "negative perception of its network and its inability (to offer) the iPhone." Soon it will have the iPhone -- but will it have the network? Currently T-Mobile offers the advanced fourth-generation LTE network in only seven markets but is working to expand the coverage. Jessica Dolcourt of CNET notes that T-Mobile's backup network, known as  HSPA+ 42, is " a very quick network in its own right" and should suffice as T-Mobile rolls out the more advanced LTE coverage. The writer also commends T-Mobile's offering of unlimited 4G FaceTime (video) calling with its $70 plan, and the fact that the iPhone supports HD Voice.   However, it won't allow Wi-Fi calling, i.e., free calls over broadband. The company's chief marketing officer "hinted that it could arrive later," Dolcourt says. What works for you? Negative perception of network coverage could be hard to shake, especially since the other three carriers are so far ahead with their 4G networks. Additionally, consumers who want to buy the phones may consider the "no-contract" concept a bit misleading: If you can't walk away free and clear at any time, then it is a contract. The New York Times points out that cheaper plans already exist through smaller carriers, such as Virgin Mobile's $30 plan: 300 minutes, unlimited data and unlimited text messages. It also notes that after two years "most consumers" will want to upgrade their phones anyway. Those of us with aging flip phones or older-model smartphones beg to differ. Some can't afford to replace regularly, and some don't want to: We just want to be able to make calls or do some basic Web browsing. The uncarrier might save you money if you already have a phone, or if want to buy one from T-Mobile and keep it for a while -- or maybe buy it outright and then head off to a cheaper service provider. Do what works for you, and don't switch carriers until you've done your own comparisons and your own math. Lots of it. More on MSN Money: Is your cellphone addiction covered? 10 risks people take with smartphones Are you smartphone rich and cash poor? why is there a six month old articl on msn ? BlogArticle cellphones discount electronics frugal saving money http://money.msn.com/frugal-living/post.aspx?post=727e7ccf-5161-4437-b103-328b31c424c4 Free health screenings through May The CVS pharmacy chain offers a handful of free tests -- no appointment needed. Also: Free movies, paint, cat food and a warehouse club trial membership. Tue, 26 Mar 2013 21:20:54 -0700 Donna_Freedman 457d3544-4c18-4b6c-b924-c3c5f7f0fe51 727e7ccf-5161-4437-b103-328b31c424c4 BlogArticle B78676EAEBE0C447 0 1 2013-03-27T14:45:17.183 The CVS pharmacy chain offers a handful of free tests -- no appointment needed. Also: Free movies, paint, cat food and a warehouse club trial membership. Checked your cholesterol lately? Let CVS/pharmacy do it for you this week or next, for free. There's a free gift in it for you, too. A nutrition assessment plus screenings for glucose, cholesterol, body mass index and blood pressure will be provided free of charge at CVS/pharmacy locations in 11 major U.S. metropolitan areas. Offered through  the chain's "Project Health" program, the screenings take place from 2 to 6 p.m. every Thursday, Friday and Saturday in March, April and May. After you've done all the tests you'll receive a $5-off coupon and a tote bag. Where do you have to live to get a deal like that? Near one of the stores in these areas: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The free screenings resume from September through November. During the fall months vision and bone density screenings may also be offered. Sounds like a project to me: How much you can improve your health between now and Thanksgiving? More free stuff Movie ticket. Through Thursday, March 28, you can get a free child's ticket for "Oz the Great and Powerful" if you buy two adult tickets at Regal Cinemas. You must be a member of both Disney Movie Rewards and Regal Crown Club; it doesn't cost to join either program. The code DISNEYOZ will unlock this freebie. (Link courtesy of Bryan at Living on the Cheap.)   Warehouse club trial membership. BJ's Wholesale Club is offering a 60-day gratis membership. You have until July 14 to start the trial. This is a great way to find out if an annual membership would be worth it for your household. (Thanks to  Freebie Finding Mom.)   Family video. A company called Feature Films for Families is offering  free DVD titles such as "Rigoletto," "Who Stole My Voice?" and "The Bellflower Bunnies." (Thanks to Damien at FreeStuff.tv.) Educational apps. Feeling vaguely guilty about how much time your kids spend playing games on your smartphone or tablet?  FatWallet.com's Free Stuff Forum links to a pair of learning games: "Marbleminds Phonics," which teaches kids the sounds letters make so they can build words, and "Math Basic," aimed at kids between 2 and 6 years of age. Download them and sneak a little education into their gaming; after all, too much time spent around that many angry birds can't be good for them. Free cat food. If you're a Petco Rewards member you can print a coupon for a can of Friskies or Fancy Feast cat food. The offer expires May 31. And if you're more of a dog person? Print the cat-food coupon anyway and donate it to a cat rescue group or to the store's "pet food bank." (Link courtesy of Savings.com.)   Free paint. Get a coupon for an 8-ounce sample of Valspar paint, redeemable at Lowe's. Nope, it's not enough to do your entire living room -- but one-sixteenth of a gallon can cover up to 28 square feet, so you could use it as an accent or to see how a particular color will look on part of a wall. Or just use it to paint the outside of a birdhouse -- maybe it'll calm those angry birds a bit. (Thanks to Heather at Freebies 4 Mom.)   Ben & Jerry's. Mark your calendar now: April 9 is Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's ice cream shops. Expect lines. (Link courtesy of Jen at BeFrugal.com.)   More on MSN Money: Free small-plane rides for kids 4 ways to get your taxes done for free Kids bowl free every day this summer Food stamps for Fido and Fluffy? 8 ways to spring-clean your finances Checked your cholesterol lately? Let CVS/pharmacy do it for you this week or next, for free. There's a free gift in it for you, too. A nutrition assessment plus screenings for glucose, cholesterol, body mass index and blood pressure will be provided free of charge at CVS/pharmacy locations in 11 major U.S. metropolitan areas. Offered through  the chain's "Project Health" program, the screenings take place from 2 to 6 p.m. every Thursday, Friday and Saturday in March, April and May. After you've done all the tests you'll receive a $5-off coupon and a tote bag. Where do you have to live to get a deal like that? Near one of the stores in these areas: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The free screenings resume from September through November. During the fall months vision and bone density screenings may also be offered. Sounds like a project to me: How much you can improve your health between now and Thanksgiving? More free stuff Movie ticket. Through Thursday, March 28, you can get a free child's ticket for "Oz the Great and Powerful" if you buy two adult tickets at Regal Cinemas. You must be a member of both Disney Movie Rewards and Regal Crown Club; it doesn't cost to join either program. The code DISNEYOZ will unlock this freebie. (Link courtesy of Bryan at Living on the Cheap.)   Warehouse club trial membership. BJ's Wholesale Club is offering a 60-day gratis membership. You have until July 14 to start the trial. This is a great way to find out if an annual membership would be worth it for your household. (Thanks to  Freebie Finding Mom.)   Family video. A company called Feature Films for Families is offering  free DVD titles such as "Rigoletto," "Who Stole My Voice?" and "The Bellflower Bunnies." (Thanks to Damien at FreeStuff.tv.) Educational apps. Feeling vaguely guilty about how much time your kids spend playing games on your smartphone or tablet?  FatWallet.com's Free Stuff Forum links to a pair of learning games: "Marbleminds Phonics," which teaches kids the sounds letters make so they can build words, and "Math Basic," aimed at kids between 2 and 6 years of age. Download them and sneak a little education into their gaming; after all, too much time spent around that many angry birds can't be good for them. Free cat food. If you're a Petco Rewards member you can print a coupon for a can of Friskies or Fancy Feast cat food. The offer expires May 31. And if you're more of a dog person? Print the cat-food coupon anyway and donate it to a cat rescue group or to the store's "pet food bank." (Link courtesy of Savings.com.)   Free paint. Get a coupon for an 8-ounce sample of Valspar paint, redeemable at Lowe's. Nope, it's not enough to do your entire living room -- but one-sixteenth of a gallon can cover up to 28 square feet, so you could use it as an accent or to see how a particular color will look on part of a wall. Or just use it to paint the outside of a birdhouse -- maybe it'll calm those angry birds a bit. (Thanks to Heather at Freebies 4 Mom.)   Ben & Jerry's. Mark your calendar now: April 9 is Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's ice cream shops. Expect lines. (Link courtesy of Jen at BeFrugal.com.)   More on MSN Money: Free small-plane rides for kids 4 ways to get your taxes done for free Kids bowl free every day this summer Food stamps for Fido and Fluffy? 8 ways to spring-clean your finances BlogArticle bargains children entertainment family free pets http://money.msn.com/frugal-living/post.aspx?post=98c6a46f-f472-41f5-9d2f-2f3490bc0163 5 things dumber than a lottery ticket Some say games of chance are a waste of money. I can think of worse ways to drop a few bucks. Thu, 10 Apr 2014 10:26:25 -0700 Donna_Freedman 457d3544-4c18-4b6c-b924-c3c5f7f0fe51 98c6a46f-f472-41f5-9d2f-2f3490bc0163 BlogArticle B78676EAEBE0C447 125 190 2013-03-25T14:10:17.883 Some say games of chance are a waste of money. I can think of worse ways to drop a few bucks. Someone in New Jersey purchased the sole winning Powerball ticket for the March 23 drawing. That person or persons earned $338 million -- or will, once the ticket is claimed. I live in Alaska, one of seven states with no lottery. The closest thing to a Powerball or Pick 6 is the Nenana Ice Classic, an annual pool in which people guess when the ice goes out in Nenana, Alaska. It's $2.50 per guess and allegedly (perhaps apocryphally) some numbskulls write "April 31" each year. But I did buy an occasional ticket when I lived in Washington, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Illinois. I don't see the harm. Before you kick me out of the frugal movement, let me say that yes, I have heard the horror stories about people who buy bushels of tickets every week because they just know they're going to win. Apparently some even consider it a valid retirement strategy, which is a little scary. Clearly we need better math instruction in our schools, because when some people hear "odds are 1 in 18 million" they focus on the first number rather than the second. An article on the Daily Finance website puts those odds into depressing (though amusing) perspective. Your chances of... Getting pregnant from a one-night stand: 1 in 20. Being struck by lightning: 1 in 10,000. Dying in an airplane crash: 1 in 355,318. Being dealt a royal flush in a given hand of poker: 1 in 655,750. Dying from a flesh-eating bacteria: 1 in 1 million. Winning the California Super Lotto Jackpot: 1 in 18 million.But I'm talking about a couple of bucks at a time, not spending one-tenth of my take-home pay on scratch-offs or machine picks. Some of you are probably saying, "Oh yeah? If you saved that $2 a week and invested it, you'd have eight bazillion dollars by the time you retired!" So you're saying you allow yourself no "fun" money, no small treats, no creature comforts? That every dollar you don't spend on the most basic of food, clothing and shelter goes into savings/retirement? That you never buy a beer, a magazine or a pack of gum? Dumber ways to spend I don't drink beer, I don't read magazines and I don't chew gum. But while I lived in the Lower 48 I'd occasionally drop a few dollars on lottery tickets. They were a big goof, a dream that I knew, intellectually, probably wouldn't come true. But if it did…! Every time I bought a ticket or tickets I'd daydream about how I'd spend the money (some on me and mine, some on causes I already support). It was a harmless bit of escapism. Besides, I can think of dumber ways to spend a few dollars. Such as: 1. Bottled water. Every frugalist's favorite example, true, but let's do it again: Unless the water in your town is nasty (yo, Philly and Phoenix!), why are you doing this? Add up how much you spend in a month. Then pick up one of those pitchers or faucet-mounted filters. Seriously. 2. Frou-frou coffees. Another of the go-to gripes for thrifty types: If you buy fancy java on your way to work every day, you forfeit the right to complain about the cost of living. Home coffeemakers aren't expensive and travel mugs can be had for a buck or two at most thrift stores, and not much more than that retail. 3. Ringtones. Your phone comes with the ability to ring all by itself. Why pay a couple of dollars every time a new hit tune catches your ear? Personally, I wish everyone would leave his phone on "silent" mode. If you're sexy and you know it, just keep that information to yourself. 4. Apps. Sure, plenty of free ones exist. Plenty of not-free ones exist, too, and one of their foremost attractions is their low cost (usually about $1.99 to $6.99). You figure you're getting a little amusement out of money that might otherwise have gone to a couple of those fancy coffees. So, all you app addicts: Take a second to add up the total amount you've spent on these things, and how often you actually use them. Maybe it's just one app for $1.99 and you use it every week. Maybe. 5. Smartphone games. I'm told these are lifesavers if you're stuck in a long line with a cranky kid. But I sure do see a lot of grownups launching birds at pigs or flipping virtual solitaire cards. How many games have you downloaded, how often do you play them and why is the $1.99 you spent on "Family Feud" somehow nobler than my $2.50 on the Nenana Ice Classic? (Which I haven't bought yet, by the way.) Personal vices "But wait!" you cry. "Who are you to tell me that I shouldn't buy apps or bottled water? It's my money!" Yep, it is, and you get to decide how to spend it. If you want those things, then work them into the budget and enjoy the heck out of them. But that road runs both ways. The next time you're tempted to criticize people who buy Powerball tickets, think about your own little vices. I don't own a smartphone but I will defend to the death your right to improve your prowess at Angry Birds. So why should it bother you that I'll buy a New Jersey lottery ticket the next time I go see my dad? As for those who grouse about all those poor people who accept social services but still buy lottery tickets, let me ask: How do you know? Even if you do know one or more people who do this, does that mean that all recipients of SNAP, TANF or Section 8 are spending the milk money on scratch cards? Before you tee off on people who shouldn't indulge in games of chance, remember that you don't get to decide what constitutes fun for them, either. Even a minimum-wage earner has the right to splurge a few bucks now and then on a burger, a DVD rental -- or a lottery ticket. More on MSN Money: 8 signs you're a gambling addict Is winning the lottery hazardous to your health? How to spot a lottery scam Let us know how that works out for you. BlogArticle budgeting entertainment spending http://money.msn.com/frugal-living/post.aspx?post=8a9b0960-5dab-4488-adff-5758860379b8 Can homemade soda save you money? Devices from SodaStream and SodaSparkle let you craft your own soft drinks or seltzers. Cost-effective? That depends. Thu, 29 Aug 2013 10:25:23 -0700 Donna_Freedman 457d3544-4c18-4b6c-b924-c3c5f7f0fe51 8a9b0960-5dab-4488-adff-5758860379b8 BlogArticle B78676EAEBE0C447 22 10 2013-03-18T15:00:44.483 Devices from SodaStream and SodaSparkle let you craft your own soft drinks or seltzers. Cost-effective? That depends. Homemade cold drinks are a hot business in the U.S. these days. We bought more than 1.2 million carbonating devices -- chiefly SodaStream and SodaSparkle -- last year, according to The New York Times.    Making fizzy drinks at home is nothing new -- the out-of-control seltzer bottle was a staple of silent-film comedies -- but it's now a lot easier to craft your own bubbly water, all-natural sodas or knockoffs of popular pops like Coca Cola and Dr Pepper. It's pretty simple: Pour water into the special bottle (it withstands the pressure), add carbonation and, if you like, flavor the result. Depending on which kind you buy and what's included (e.g., how many flavor mixes or cartridges), expect to pay anywhere from $60 to $170. SodaStream cartridges are refillable and cost about $30; if you trade them in at the retailer a replacement cartridge will cost about $15. SodaSparkle's one-time-use cartridges cost anywhere from 53 to 70 cents apiece. Can such devices save you money? That depends on whom you ask, and on what you want the machines to do for you. In fact, some people don't care whether they save moneyt. Joshua Dorkin of BiggerPockets has never done the math. He bought the SodaStream to reduce his dependency on commercial soft drinks. Now he drinks homemade seltzer for a treat, instead of popping open can after can. "I really saw this as a way to force me to be healthier…I'm already consuming less sugar and junk calories," he says. An analysis on the DrPennyPincher blog indicates that SodaStream beverages cost 2.96 cents per fluid ounce. To produce the equivalent of the eight-pack of 12-ounce bottled soda that the good doctor's wife prefers costs $2.84, a savings of $1.16. "With the cost savings plus the convenience and fun of making soda at home, as well as reducing plastic consumption, Sodastream has some advantages," he says. KB of the Natural As Possible Mom blog reports that the "Sparkling Naturals" flavors work out to about $1.66 per liter. Some folks might blanch at the cost, but blogger Karen J. Bannan notes that "it's about the same" as the natural sodas she buys for her husband at Whole Foods -- and the smaller bottles never go flat and get thrown away, the way 2-liter bottles sometimes did. She's definitely saving money on her own preferred beverage, natural flavored seltzer: "MyWater Essences cost $9.99 and make 60 liters -- very cost-effective." Not everyone saves But blogger Tim Owens ran the numbers and came to a different conclusion. "At the end of the day the SodaStream only saves you money if you regularly buy name-brand can soda and typically pay full cost," he writes in a post on his eponymous website.   On the other hand, Owens sure doesn't miss "lugging 12-packs of soda from the car" and also notes that his family no longer leaves half-finished soda cans to go flat. A brand-loyal soft drink user might not care for soda machines' approximations of popular pops. Over at the Preaching to the Perverted website, a blogger named Dave found most SodaStream flavors "somewhat lacking," especially that of his beloved Diet Coke. His advice? Buy a variety pack of mixes, which has samples of 12 flavors. "You can try them before you commit," he says in a post called " Now I'm carbonating everything."   Ketchup soda, anybody? Some users prefer to make their own flavors. Dave is one of them, and warns that this can be messy since some liquids react rather explosively to carbonation. "I fully endorse experimentation, just be prepared to do some cleanup," he says. Putting anything other than water into the bottle could void the machine's warranty, according to the New York Times article. This doesn't stop the adventurous from fizzing-up liquids such as wine, liqueurs and centrifuged tomato juice. That last one was a bust, incidentally; it came out tasting "like ketchup soda." But homemade sodas can include ingredients such as fresh lemon -- seldom used in bottled drinks due to the short shelf life of the fruit's acidity -- or real ginger. The adventurous are also infusing wine or vodka with herbs, fruit or even chili peppers. Besides, warranties don't seem to matter to a certain group of soda-makers: They're using an adapter to allow the SodaStream to accept paintball C02 tanks, which are considerably cheaper to refill. Owens, who notes that paintball tanks are currently used by home brewers, says the $60 adapter will pay for itself within a few months and then allow him to "enjoy much cheaper C02 costs going forward." So should you buy a soda maker? That depends. How much soda or flavored seltzer does your household really consume? Does that consumption vary enough -- mostly in the summer when you're entertaining, say -- to make buying on-sale commercial soft drinks a better bet? Be realistic about this, or the soda maker could become this years Fad Device: used a while and then relegated to a high shelf in the pantry, right next to the countertop deep fat fryer and the mini-cupcake bakery. They all seemed like good ideas at the time, too. More on MSN Money: NYC soda ban falls flat 12 everyday essentials you can make Morning coffee for $124 a pound How to re-grow your grub I used to have a Sodastream, but I quickly learned that it really doesn't save much money.....especially if you like your soda real fizzy. (I do) Currently, I am leasing a 20lb. commercial tank of CO2 for about $50 a year, which costs about $15 to refill. So far this year, I have made well over 200 (2) liter bottles of soda, and haven't needed to exchange the tank yet. You can learn how to do this on YouTube with about a $125 initial investment, using standard one or two liter plastic bottles, and it's really very easy. Yes, they can certainly handle the pressure. One place that I used to work at had equipment for pressure-testing, and a supermarket 2 liter bottle held over 500 psi before bursting. That's at least ten times the pressure needed for making your own soda. I use Sodastreams flavors, and I make my own as well, but my own equipment. If you're really into soda, this is undeniably the cheapest way to go. BlogArticle food food prices frugal groceries http://money.msn.com/frugal-living/post.aspx?post=b065051e-1542-48f7-be15-4dd2c91425b5 Food stamps for Fido and Fluffy? A nonprofit group funds 'pet food stamps' for lower-income animal owners. Other options exist, too. Thu, 01 Aug 2013 02:59:58 -0700 Donna_Freedman 457d3544-4c18-4b6c-b924-c3c5f7f0fe51 b065051e-1542-48f7-be15-4dd2c91425b5 BlogArticle B78676EAEBE0C447 19 26 2013-03-21T14:52:25.597 A nonprofit group funds 'pet food stamps' for lower-income animal owners. Other options exist, too. Yep, you heard that right: A nonprofit called Pet Food Stamps is taking applications to provide free supplies for low-income pet owners. The U.S. government is not involved. Again: not involved. Your tax dollars are not supporting someone's right to own a calico or corgi. The program is open to people already receiving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aka food stamps) or who are living at or below the poverty level. No money or electronic benefit cards change hands. If you're approved, pet products will be shipped to your home free of charge. This begs the question: Should poor people even have pets? Some would say "not if they can't afford to feed them." But keep in mind that some pet owners who once made good money have fallen on hard times, thanks to unemployment or illness or some other factor. Others have always lived close to the bone, as it were, but are willing to do without certain comforts in order to have the love and loyalty of a companion animal. Here's what I think: If you have major consumer debt and/or an uncertain job situation, don't  adopt a pet. You could wind up with an even heavier debt load, especially if the animal gets sick or injured. But if you already have a pet and believe its companionship irreplaceable? Read on. Local and national sources Rather than pin all your hopes on the Pet Food Stamps program -- which surely can't help everyone who applies -- start searching for other options. A great source of information is the " Having trouble affording your pet?" section of the Humane Society of the United States website. It's a long, long list of regional and national organizations that offer food, supplies, vet care and even grooming.  Note: The page also has a free or low-cost spaying/neutering link. Use it. If you're having trouble caring adequately for the pets you already have, don't allow them to make more mouths you can't feed. While the Humane Society list is terrific, it's not comprehensive. For example, it includes resources in Canada and Puerto Rico but not Alaska or South Carolina. That doesn't mean those states have no animal charities, but rather that some local groups operate without publicity.  Petco.com has a food bank donation program, i.e., you can donate in their stores. The website links to the names of local groups that receive the food -- which is how I found that programs exist in two cities in Alaska and seven in South Carolina. Check the site for programs in your own region. Other sources A national group called Pets of the Homeless distributes food and supplies at places like rescue missions, homeless shelters and soup kitchens. If you're currently couch-surfing versus living at a shelter you might not know that, so follow the link to see if there's aid in your area. Contact food banks in your city. They may be set up to feed humans, but some also collect pet food and supplies. Ask your vet about local groups, including animal rescue organizations whose members might temporarily foster your pet or donate supplies.  If you're physically able, offer to trade pet services (walking, scooping, grooming) or pet-sitting for animal food and supplies. Maybe a friend wouldn't mind throwing an extra bag of kibble into her shopping cart if she knew you'd keep her dog whenever she goes out of town.   A few more options: Talk to social service agencies in your area. Don't know where to start? Call 211 or visit 211.org. Sign up for The Freecycle Network if there's a chapter in your area. I've seen pet food and supplies being given away. Do a daily Internet search for "free pet food." Companies offer free samples or even full-sized products via Facebook and freebie bloggers. I ran one such offer in my free-stuff column this week: a printable Petco coupon for  a free 13-ounce can of Pro Plan dog food. (No printer? Ask a friend or family member to do the honors, or print it at the library.) Put the word out that you're in need of some temporary assistance. Maybe somebody knows somebody who knows somebody who's willing to help. More on MSN Money: Is your new dog a money pit? An emergency fund -- for your pet 10 ways to save on pet supplies Should you buy pet insurance? Will your pet bankrupt you? I'd rather have my tax dollars go to animals any day than the worthless, useless pathetic human leeches and parasites who for generations have refused to work and support thmeslevs and their spawn. BlogArticle cheap family money free frugal pets http://money.msn.com/frugal-living/post.aspx?post=ddb9e58d-d388-42f1-99ba-42790ffc117b Kids bowl free every day this summer Sign your children up now and let 'em knock down the pins during vacation. Also: Free magazine subscription, water ice, photo collage, dog food and game rental. Tue, 19 Mar 2013 19:42:25 -0700 Donna_Freedman 457d3544-4c18-4b6c-b924-c3c5f7f0fe51 ddb9e58d-d388-42f1-99ba-42790ffc117b BlogArticle B78676EAEBE0C447 0 1 2013-03-20T14:59:14.947 Sign your children up now and let 'em knock down the pins during vacation. Also: Free magazine subscription, water ice, photo collage, dog food and game rental. School's out in just a couple of months. If you're looking to line up frugal fun for the vacation months, put this one on your roster: two free games of bowling every single day this summer. The Kids Bowl Free program operates in all 50 states and eight Canadian provinces. You can search for bowling centers in your area by clicking on that link.   Register now so you can hit the local lanes as soon as school lets out. And if your kids have never bowled before? They could wind up being pretty good by the end of the summer, even if you go only once or twice per week. Bonus: The shoes are so cool.  But seriously: Experienced bowlers in adjoining lanes may offer advice, especially if they've taught their own kids. Or check out the Help With Bowling website, which quite a bit of info on helping children learn the sport.   In addition to tips on techniques and scores, the website offers realistic advice such as "request a lane close to the restrooms" and "the concession stand is a good place to start for (small) kids to show that good things come from this loud, scary place." Thanks to Kelli of Freebie Finding Mom for that summertime tip. And if you want to celebrate the first day of spring? Stop by any Rita's Italian Ice from noon to 9 p.m. today for a free Italian ice.  (Link courtesy of Jen at BeFrugal.com.) More fun (and free) stuff Photo collage. Another offer that is good only through today is the  free 8x10 photo collage  from Walgreens. Order online with the code COLLAGE4FREE and choose in-store pickup. (Thanks to Totally Free Stuff.)   Magazine subscription. Sign up for the Ladies Home Journal at this link on the FatWallet.com Free Stuff Forum. You don't need to leave a credit card number, i.e., no auto-renewal. However, you do have to agree to receive email offers (use your secondary email address for this one) and you must click through a screen's worth of yes/no offers before your subscription will process. Candy bar. Download the 7-Eleven smartphone app and get a coupon for  a free Snickers bar, redeemable in-store on March 26. The store will also be giving away free samples of Mio "water enhancers" on April 23, a good way to try a new flavor without committing to a full-size bottle. (Link courtesy of  Reward Part Freebies.)   Doggie dinner. Print out a PETCO coupon for a 13-ounce can of Pro Plan Dog Food. This offer expires March 31. Don't have a dog? Redeem the coupon anyway and see if local food banks collect animal supplies, or donate it to a pet rescue program. (Thanks to Jen at BeFrugal.com.)   Game rental. Text the code NOWPLAY to 727272 on your cellphone and Redbox will text back a Redbox game rental code, good until May 9. (Link courtesy of  Savings.com.)   More on MSN Money: 4 ways to get your taxes done free Surprising ways to save money on health care Get freebies on your birthday 21 painless ways to save School's out in just a couple of months. If you're looking to line up frugal fun for the vacation months, put this one on your roster: two free games of bowling every single day this summer. The Kids Bowl Free program operates in all 50 states and eight Canadian provinces. You can search for bowling centers in your area by clicking on that link.   Register now so you can hit the local lanes as soon as school lets out. And if your kids have never bowled before? They could wind up being pretty good by the end of the summer, even if you go only once or twice per week. Bonus: The shoes are so cool.  But seriously: Experienced bowlers in adjoining lanes may offer advice, especially if they've taught their own kids. Or check out the Help With Bowling website, which quite a bit of info on helping children learn the sport.   In addition to tips on techniques and scores, the website offers realistic advice such as "request a lane close to the restrooms" and "the concession stand is a good place to start for (small) kids to show that good things come from this loud, scary place." Thanks to Kelli of Freebie Finding Mom for that summertime tip. And if you want to celebrate the first day of spring? Stop by any Rita's Italian Ice from noon to 9 p.m. today for a free Italian ice.  (Link courtesy of Jen at BeFrugal.com.) More fun (and free) stuff Photo collage. Another offer that is good only through today is the  free 8x10 photo collage  from Walgreens. Order online with the code COLLAGE4FREE and choose in-store pickup. (Thanks to Totally Free Stuff.)   Magazine subscription. Sign up for the Ladies Home Journal at this link on the FatWallet.com Free Stuff Forum. You don't need to leave a credit card number, i.e., no auto-renewal. However, you do have to agree to receive email offers (use your secondary email address for this one) and you must click through a screen's worth of yes/no offers before your subscription will process. Candy bar. Download the 7-Eleven smartphone app and get a coupon for  a free Snickers bar, redeemable in-store on March 26. The store will also be giving away free samples of Mio "water enhancers" on April 23, a good way to try a new flavor without committing to a full-size bottle. (Link courtesy of  Reward Part Freebies.)   Doggie dinner. Print out a PETCO coupon for a 13-ounce can of Pro Plan Dog Food. This offer expires March 31. Don't have a dog? Redeem the coupon anyway and see if local food banks collect animal supplies, or donate it to a pet rescue program. (Thanks to Jen at BeFrugal.com.)   Game rental. Text the code NOWPLAY to 727272 on your cellphone and Redbox will text back a Redbox game rental code, good until May 9. (Link courtesy of  Savings.com.)   More on MSN Money: 4 ways to get your taxes done free Surprising ways to save money on health care Get freebies on your birthday 21 painless ways to save BlogArticle children entertainment family free frugal http://money.msn.com/frugal-living/post.aspx?post=384bac91-034d-43e5-9225-4f69e77db497 Save 55% on beer this Sunday Hoisting a pint (or more) in honor of St. Patrick? Your beer money goes further at a house party. Tue, 11 Jun 2013 18:53:42 -0700 Donna_Freedman 457d3544-4c18-4b6c-b924-c3c5f7f0fe51 384bac91-034d-43e5-9225-4f69e77db497 BlogArticle B78676EAEBE0C447 10 12 2013-03-15T14:37:58.71 Hoisting a pint (or more) in honor of St. Patrick? Your beer money goes further at a house party. You don't have to be Irish to party on March 17. If you use the holiday as an excuse to sip some extra suds and want to do it frugally,, listen to Angie Picardo's advice: Beer money goes further at a house party. How much further? For the cost of eight pints in a pub you could drink 14 pints at home, according to Picardo, a financial analyst for the NerdWallet personal finance site. (One hopes those 14 would be shared among friends.) "If consumers spend the projected average of $38 on the beer-heavy holiday, this extreme price gap could be costing Americans an extra $2.6 billion in a single day," she writes in this NerdWallet post.   The $38 figure comes from the National Retail Federation and includes all St. Patrick's Day expenditures: corned beef, green necklaces, et al. But for her article Picardo assumed that the entire $38 will be spent on beer. After all, one or two pints into the evening some folks start proclaiming, "Next round's on me!" -- which could cost $38 all by itself. For some, the pub experience is what makes St. Patrick's Day semi-authentically Irish. A survey from Spectrem Group indicates that 58% of people ages 40 and younger will go to bars on March 17. It's hard to pass up a 55% savings, though, especially when that's just the price of the brew -- overindulging in a public place could wind up costing you in other ways, too. Party responsibly All 50 states now define driving under the influence as 0.08% blood alcohol concentration, according to an MSN Money article called "DUI: The $10,000 ride home." Some states have separate charges for lower blood-alcohol levels, e.g., "driving while impaired." A few examples of what an arrest may cost: Bail: $150 to $2,500 Legal fees: $2,000 to as much as $25,000 Fines: $300 to $1,200 Alcohol evaluation and treatment: $150 to $2,000 Insurance rate hikes: $4,500 or more over time Note: That $10,000 figure does not include accidents or injuries. It's impossible to say how many pints of stout it takes to arrive at 0.08 BAC, but for some people it doesn't take much. CarInsurance.com offers a "What's Your Limit?" online calculator, with the caveat that you should "err on the side of caution" when guesstimating impairment. I don't drink, but if I did I wouldn't rely even on a portable Breathalyzer. Instead, I'd ask someone for a ride or call a taxi. (Some bars will pay for the cab.) Whether you're pub-crawling, celebrating at a friend's home or hosting a party at your own place, make sure no one gets behind the wheel if he's impaired. Call a cab or let the tiddly one sack out on the couch -- that way, you get to wake him the next morning by shouting, "Erin go home!" P.S. Don't forget to factor in the cost to your reputation once those iPhone pictures start making the rounds. You know, the ones taken after your fifth beer, when you're wearing a giant green hat and attempting an Irish jig. Friends don't let friends do the Riverdance. More on MSN Money: Buy your own Breathalyzer 8 cheap, extraordinary entertainments Frugal game-day snacks Drivers OK with in-car Breathalyzer my alcoholic mates and i have always prefered a little carne asada grilling sessions and some good music and ice cold brewskis in the backyard rather than bars BlogArticle budgeting cheap entertainment frugal holidays holiday spending http://money.msn.com/frugal-living/post.aspx?post=ee70b323-7a29-451d-b921-bc52cc27743b 8 ways to spring-clean your finances Clearing dust and clutter brings a fresh new feeling of possibility to your home. Why not give the same attention to your money habits? Wed, 13 Mar 2013 22:49:24 -0700 Donna_Freedman 457d3544-4c18-4b6c-b924-c3c5f7f0fe51 ee70b323-7a29-451d-b921-bc52cc27743b BlogArticle B78676EAEBE0C447 0 1 2013-03-14T16:30:55.173 Clearing dust and clutter brings a fresh new feeling of possibility to your home. Why not give the same attention to your money habits? The idea that spring is a good time to focus on frugality makes sense to me. After a long, hard winter we see signs of hope around us: longer days, more budding trees, hints of green on sodden brown lawns, a sense of possibility. And spring cleaning, of course. An all-out assault on your living quarters clears away dust and staleness. The new freshness brings vitality and energy, and a feeling that things will be different from now on. So why not apply the same attention to personal finance? Whether you need to dig yourself out of a financial hole or just want to embrace a more intentional lifestyle, the spring-cleaning approach is a great way to get started.  Go through the different areas of your home with an eye toward clearing out clutter. That's actual clutter (hello, full-to-overflowing closets!) and also the virtual kind -- the mentality that leads you to accumulate stuff you forgot you even had (and never missed) and bills you may or not be able to pay. Do this with a frugal filter in place: What do I really need? Do I already have something that will suffice? How can I get it cheaply or free if I don't? How much of what I have is being used/making a difference in my life? How much of my paycheck goes to cover bills for stuff I've stopped caring about? Where do I want to be in three years, or 10? How do I make financial choices that will support those goals?The great indoors 1. Closets. See a lot of stuff you're not wearing? Take it to a consignment shop, or sell it on eBay or a site like Tradesy in order to recoup even a little of the money you paid for togs you don't use. Determine how long you'll wait for it to sell and when that date arrives, donate whatever is left. Frugal takeaway: If you have so much stuff you can't use it all, you have too much. Set yourself a quarterly or annual apparel budget, and stick to it. Brainstorm other ways to use the money you'll be saving (weekend getaway, paying down student loans, contributing to retirement). 2. Fridge and pantry. Do you see any or all of the following: crusty old takeout containers, supermarket-cut fruit, frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (I wish I were making that up, but I'm not), shelf-stable precooked rice (ditto) or leftovers so old you can't even guess at what they once were? Frugal takeaway: When you pay for whim and/or convenience, you overpay. Time to rethink the way you feed yourself. Letting restaurants do most of the cooking, ignoring leftovers and buying "value added" (ahem) products means that you're willingly pouring too many dollars into the budgetary catalog with the most wiggle room. 3. Common areas. Take a hard look at the living room, dining room or den. See a lot of stuff you've stopped noticing? Ask yourself whether you really want those things. Frugal takeaway: If your possessions no longer register, they can't matter that much to you. Ask yourself: How can I keep from accumulating things I don't really care about? Then donate or sell all the clutter. You might need to negotiate this with a partner, i.e., get over the "my possessions/her junk" mentality. Peaceful compromise is what separates us from the lower animals. Where's that warranty? 4. Office. Your desk is strewn with haphazard paper piles. Your file cabinets are jammed with junk. Is it any wonder that bills get overlooked and important tax paperwork went missing? Frugal takeaway: Disorganization costs money. Late payments, missed appointments and the like mean paying fees, and maybe paying in terms of reputation. Don't be that guy no one can rely on (especially if you're an entrepreneur), and don't give your creditors any more than you owe. In fact, why not automate those bills and stop worrying about fees altogether? And speaking of automating finances: Do you have an emergency fund? How about a retirement plan? If not, start automating both. Retirement should take precedence because compound interest is your friend, but do yourself a favor and work toward the $500 EF suggested by MSN Money columnist Liz Weston. Frugal takeaway: Don't spend every dime you earn. If you're living close to the bone it's tempting to think you can't save. Sometimes that's even true. But take a long, hard look at your finances and start automating those funds, even if it's only $5 per paycheck. Now go outside 6. Your home's exterior. Missing shingles, peeling paint or clogged roof gutters aren't just eyesores. They're evidence of continuing damage to your home, i.e., to your biggest investment. Basic rule of frugality: Take care of your stuff. Step up and stem the deterioration, before little problems become huge issues. Benign neglect doesn't work for your bank account and it doesn't work here, either. If you know yourself well enough to realize you'll never do the work, hire someone do it. Ask potential workers for references, lest you wind up paying for substandard repairs. 7. The yard. Unless you've got serious allergies, why are you paying someone $50 to mow for 15 minutes and trim the occasional hedge? And why not put a few veggies instead of flowers in those containers, or try a small raised-bed garden? Fresh air + fresh food = a healthier you. Frugal takeaway: Avoid outsourcing whenever possible. Sometimes it's worth the cost. But think about the money you pay someone else to weed-whack. How could it boost the bottom line? (Bonus:  Yard work officially counts as exercise, according to Consumer Reports.)   8. Garage. Look at what you're driving and be honest. Do you need a six-year loan? Do you need such expensive wheels? Do you need to drive two blocks to the post office on such a nice spring day? Frugal takeaway: Cars are a huge budget-buster. Resolve to pay down the loan, keep the car until the wheels fall off, buy a more sensible vehicle next time and get smarter about errands. Remember, this isn't punishment. It's practicality. You're taking a clear-eyed look at the attitudes that got you into the hole financially and/or contributed to an overstuffed lifestyle. Recognizing these behaviors is the first step toward creating the life you want. Fact is, you can have as many things in that life as you choose. But you do have to choose. Otherwise you'll just wind up spring-cleaning again, wondering how everything got so dusty. More on MSN Money: What I learned from de-cluttering 12 everyday essentials you can make Cash in your kid's closet? 12 ways to prevent food waste What keeps you from saving? The idea that spring is a good time to focus on frugality makes sense to me. After a long, hard winter we see signs of hope around us: longer days, more budding trees, hints of green on sodden brown lawns, a sense of possibility. And spring cleaning, of course. An all-out assault on your living quarters clears away dust and staleness. The new freshness brings vitality and energy, and a feeling that things will be different from now on. So why not apply the same attention to personal finance? Whether you need to dig yourself out of a financial hole or just want to embrace a more intentional lifestyle, the spring-cleaning approach is a great way to get started.  Go through the different areas of your home with an eye toward clearing out clutter. That's actual clutter (hello, full-to-overflowing closets!) and also the virtual kind -- the mentality that leads you to accumulate stuff you forgot you even had (and never missed) and bills you may or not be able to pay. Do this with a frugal filter in place: What do I really need? Do I already have something that will suffice? How can I get it cheaply or free if I don't? How much of what I have is being used/making a difference in my life? How much of my paycheck goes to cover bills for stuff I've stopped caring about? Where do I want to be in three years, or 10? How do I make financial choices that will support those goals?The great indoors 1. Closets. See a lot of stuff you're not wearing? Take it to a consignment shop, or sell it on eBay or a site like Tradesy in order to recoup even a little of the money you paid for togs you don't use. Determine how long you'll wait for it to sell and when that date arrives, donate whatever is left. Frugal takeaway: If you have so much stuff you can't use it all, you have too much. Set yourself a quarterly or annual apparel budget, and stick to it. Brainstorm other ways to use the money you'll be saving (weekend getaway, paying down student loans, contributing to retirement). 2. Fridge and pantry. Do you see any or all of the following: crusty old takeout containers, supermarket-cut fruit, frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (I wish I were making that up, but I'm not), shelf-stable precooked rice (ditto) or leftovers so old you can't even guess at what they once were? Frugal takeaway: When you pay for whim and/or convenience, you overpay. Time to rethink the way you feed yourself. Letting restaurants do most of the cooking, ignoring leftovers and buying "value added" (ahem) products means that you're willingly pouring too many dollars into the budgetary catalog with the most wiggle room. 3. Common areas. Take a hard look at the living room, dining room or den. See a lot of stuff you've stopped noticing? Ask yourself whether you really want those things. Frugal takeaway: If your possessions no longer register, they can't matter that much to you. Ask yourself: How can I keep from accumulating things I don't really care about? Then donate or sell all the clutter. You might need to negotiate this with a partner, i.e., get over the "my possessions/her junk" mentality. Peaceful compromise is what separates us from the lower animals. Where's that warranty? 4. Office. Your desk is strewn with haphazard paper piles. Your file cabinets are jammed with junk. Is it any wonder that bills get overlooked and important tax paperwork went missing? Frugal takeaway: Disorganization costs money. Late payments, missed appointments and the like mean paying fees, and maybe paying in terms of reputation. Don't be that guy no one can rely on (especially if you're an entrepreneur), and don't give your creditors any more than you owe. In fact, why not automate those bills and stop worrying about fees altogether? And speaking of automating finances: Do you have an emergency fund? How about a retirement plan? If not, start automating both. Retirement should take precedence because compound interest is your friend, but do yourself a favor and work toward the $500 EF suggested by MSN Money columnist Liz Weston. Frugal takeaway: Don't spend every dime you earn. If you're living close to the bone it's tempting to think you can't save. Sometimes that's even true. But take a long, hard look at your finances and start automating those funds, even if it's only $5 per paycheck. Now go outside 6. Your home's exterior. Missing shingles, peeling paint or clogged roof gutters aren't just eyesores. They're evidence of continuing damage to your home, i.e., to your biggest investment. Basic rule of frugality: Take care of your stuff. Step up and stem the deterioration, before little problems become huge issues. Benign neglect doesn't work for your bank account and it doesn't work here, either. If you know yourself well enough to realize you'll never do the work, hire someone do it. Ask potential workers for references, lest you wind up paying for substandard repairs. 7. The yard. Unless you've got serious allergies, why are you paying someone $50 to mow for 15 minutes and trim the occasional hedge? And why not put a few veggies instead of flowers in those containers, or try a small raised-bed garden? Fresh air + fresh food = a healthier you. Frugal takeaway: Avoid outsourcing whenever possible. Sometimes it's worth the cost. But think about the money you pay someone else to weed-whack. How could it boost the bottom line? (Bonus:  Yard work officially counts as exercise, according to Consumer Reports.)   8. Garage. Look at what you're driving and be honest. Do you need a six-year loan? Do you need such expensive wheels? Do you need to drive two blocks to the post office on such a nice spring day? Frugal takeaway: Cars are a huge budget-buster. Resolve to pay down the loan, keep the car until the wheels fall off, buy a more sensible vehicle next time and get smarter about errands. Remember, this isn't punishment. It's practicality. You're taking a clear-eyed look at the attitudes that got you into the hole financially and/or contributed to an overstuffed lifestyle. Recognizing these behaviors is the first step toward creating the life you want. Fact is, you can have as many things in that life as you choose. But you do have to choose. Otherwise you'll just wind up spring-cleaning again, wondering how everything got so dusty. More on MSN Money: What I learned from de-cluttering 12 everyday essentials you can make Cash in your kid's closet? 12 ways to prevent food waste What keeps you from saving? BlogArticle budgeting frugal frugal living saving money http://money.msn.com/frugal-living/post.aspx?post=e5041a19-2ecd-416c-b15d-f8d76c636195 Free small-plane rides for kids Volunteer pilots offer rides to those aged 8 to 17. Also free this week: a speech translator app, Atkins Diet bars and 'The Walking Dead: Assault' game. Tue, 12 Mar 2013 17:48:27 -0700 Donna_Freedman 457d3544-4c18-4b6c-b924-c3c5f7f0fe51 e5041a19-2ecd-416c-b15d-f8d76c636195 BlogArticle B78676EAEBE0C447 0 1 2013-03-13T15:17:06.26 Volunteer pilots offer rides to those aged 8 to 17. Also free this week: a speech translator app, Atkins Diet bars and 'The Walking Dead: Assault' game. Want to surprise the child in your life? Send him aloft on a small-plane ride for free, courtesy of the Young Eagles program. Young Eagles is a project of the Experimental Aircraft Association. But don't worry: Your small fry won't take to the sky in a craft made of balsa wood and duct tape.   "Experimental" is what the Federal Aviation Administration calls planes built by individuals rather than in factories. The Young Eagles website notes that these planes have been "inspected and certified airworthy by the FAA." Well, that's a relief. But seriously: This is a heck of an opportunity even for kids who have flown in commercial aircraft. Believe me, the world looks a lot more interesting when glimpsed through the window of a small plane. (And yep, the people really do look like ants.) The average trip lasts 15 to 20 minutes. Free-flight events are scheduled in 15 states in the next month alone, and they continue throughout the year. Use the link provided by Living On The Cheap to search for Young Eagles event in your region.   Note: Girl or Boy Scouts may be able to earn badges through this activity. Ask your scoutmaster for details. Talking app, 'Walking Dead' Speech translator app. Planning to travel but a little shaky on the language of your destination? Get a free copy of " Speech Translator Pro: Voice Translator for iOS." It's compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation) and iPad. (Link courtesy of Damien at  FreeStuff.tv.)   Free MRE. Karen Hoxmeier of MyBargainBuddy.com sends this link to a free sample from Wise Company, which specializes in freeze-dried and dehydrated meals for camping and emergency preparedness. You can never be too ready for the zombie apocalypse. And speaking of the undead . . . "The Walking Dead" game. Over on the Fat Wallet Free Stuff Forum Archena posts the link to a free code for "The Walking Dead: Assault." Designed for iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, it's based on the graphic novel that preceded the wildly popular AMC television show. The code expires April 5. Atkins Diet start-up. Spring = clothes that cover less of you, even if after winter indolence  there's more of you. Via FreeStuff.tv, you can send away for a trio of Atkins bars, a "quick-start kit" and recipe book.    Gucci fragrance sample. Perfume apparently doesn't sell itself these days. It needs a "fragrance story" to intrigue potential buyers. The latest character in Gucci's "Guilty" storyline is called Guilty Black. If you want to know what it smells like, you can use the the link provided by Wendi, The Freebie Blogger.   "Just Married" sign. Suppose that perfume proves so alluring that your sweetheart proposes on the spot? Via MySavings.com, you can send away for a free sign from Progressive Insurance, because it's easier to deal with tape marks than to wash off "Just Married" written in white shoe polish on your car's rear window.   More from MSN Money: Living frugal while looking rich Cash in your kid's closet? 4 ways to get your taxes done free Want to surprise the child in your life? Send him aloft on a small-plane ride for free, courtesy of the Young Eagles program. Young Eagles is a project of the Experimental Aircraft Association. But don't worry: Your small fry won't take to the sky in a craft made of balsa wood and duct tape.   "Experimental" is what the Federal Aviation Administration calls planes built by individuals rather than in factories. The Young Eagles website notes that these planes have been "inspected and certified airworthy by the FAA." Well, that's a relief. But seriously: This is a heck of an opportunity even for kids who have flown in commercial aircraft. Believe me, the world looks a lot more interesting when glimpsed through the window of a small plane. (And yep, the people really do look like ants.) The average trip lasts 15 to 20 minutes. Free-flight events are scheduled in 15 states in the next month alone, and they continue throughout the year. Use the link provided by Living On The Cheap to search for Young Eagles event in your region.   Note: Girl or Boy Scouts may be able to earn badges through this activity. Ask your scoutmaster for details. Talking app, 'Walking Dead' Speech translator app. Planning to travel but a little shaky on the language of your destination? Get a free copy of " Speech Translator Pro: Voice Translator for iOS." It's compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation) and iPad. (Link courtesy of Damien at  FreeStuff.tv.)   Free MRE. Karen Hoxmeier of MyBargainBuddy.com sends this link to a free sample from Wise Company, which specializes in freeze-dried and dehydrated meals for camping and emergency preparedness. You can never be too ready for the zombie apocalypse. And speaking of the undead . . . "The Walking Dead" game. Over on the Fat Wallet Free Stuff Forum Archena posts the link to a free code for "The Walking Dead: Assault." Designed for iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, it's based on the graphic novel that preceded the wildly popular AMC television show. The code expires April 5. Atkins Diet start-up. Spring = clothes that cover less of you, even if after winter indolence  there's more of you. Via FreeStuff.tv, you can send away for a trio of Atkins bars, a "quick-start kit" and recipe book.    Gucci fragrance sample. Perfume apparently doesn't sell itself these days. It needs a "fragrance story" to intrigue potential buyers. The latest character in Gucci's "Guilty" storyline is called Guilty Black. If you want to know what it smells like, you can use the the link provided by Wendi, The Freebie Blogger.   "Just Married" sign. Suppose that perfume proves so alluring that your sweetheart proposes on the spot? Via MySavings.com, you can send away for a free sign from Progressive Insurance, because it's easier to deal with tape marks than to wash off "Just Married" written in white shoe polish on your car's rear window.   More from MSN Money: Living frugal while looking rich Cash in your kid's closet? 4 ways to get your taxes done free BlogArticle bargains cheap children entertainment family free frugal http://money.msn.com/frugal-living/post.aspx?post=2c6366b6-bc12-455b-99cd-bf096593f2ae Wedding bills: $28,427 to get hitched That's a 5.2% price hike over last year, which may mean increased confidence in the economy. But do we need to spend so much? Mon, 24 Jun 2013 13:16:39 -0700 Donna_Freedman 457d3544-4c18-4b6c-b924-c3c5f7f0fe51 2c6366b6-bc12-455b-99cd-bf096593f2ae BlogArticle B78676EAEBE0C447 90 87 2013-03-12T15:24:43.03 That's a 5.2% price hike over last year, which may mean increased confidence in the economy. But do we need to spend so much? It doesn't have to cost a lot to get married, but we sure do like spending money on weddings. According to TheKnot.com's annual "Real Weddings Study," the average couple spent $28,427 to get hitched in 2012. This amount does not include the cost of a honeymoon, by the way. That's a 5.2% increase from the previous year, which isn't surprising: The cost of just about everything has gone up. But site co-founder Carley Roney thinks there's another reason. "Couples are increasingly less concerned with the economy and are comfortable investing more than ever in the once-in-a-lifetime experience of planning their wedding and making it a fabulous experience for their guests," Roney said in a press release that accompanied the study results. The study also notes that the average wedding budget did not increase between 2008 and 2010. Anybody but me remember what was happening during those years? And what's still happening to plenty of Americans? Some startling numbers A site called The Wedding Report came up with a slightly lower figure: $25,656 excluding honeymoon, an increase of less than 1% over its previous year's amount. However, that site surveyed only 5,650 women versus TheKnot.com's more than 17,500 brides. I suppose I should be delighted that consumer confidence may be on the rise. However, I think that spending so much could smack of overconfidence -- the feeling that things will always go your way. Maybe they will. But you could certainly help them along by being intentional about your spending. The wedding-cost breakdown from TheKnot.com includes items like:  Engagement ring, $5,431; wedding gown, $1,211. Wedding planner: $1,847. Ceremony site, $1,711; reception venue: $12,905. Rehearsal dinner, $1,135; catering, $63 per person; wedding cake, $560. Ceremony musicians, $554; reception band, $3,084; reception DJ, $988. Photographer: $2,379; videographer, $1,619. Flowers/decor: $1,997.Alternatives exist to some of the "average" expenses cited. If you go to a church that doesn't charge members for use of the facility, you can save a ton (especially if there's space for the reception on the premises). Perhaps you can buy your gown secondhand ("Worn only once!"), or even lease one from a site such as Rent The Runway. College music majors are often willing to sing or provide chamber music for the ceremony. Some couples skip the band and/or disc-spinner in favor of smartphone apps like "Wedding DJ." More and more people are using e-vites (some of which are free) instead of paper invitations. And remember, the job of "wedding planner" is a fairly recent invention. People were getting married long before someone was willing to charge money to help you obsess over just the right color for the save-the-date cards. Fairy tales cost money I can hear the entitled wails now: But it's my special daaaaay! It has to be perfect! I want the fairy tale! Isn't that how we got ourselves in trouble in the first place -- by willing and total immersion into a consumeristic mentality? By coveting more than we could cover? Put another way: The average U.S. income is $39,959, according to the Social Security Administration. That average citizen would have to spend 71% of a year's pay on an "average" wedding. Obviously it's up to you to decide whether the fairy tale is worth it. But letting the wedding industry decide what you "need" for your nuptials is like asking the barber if you need a haircut. How many months (or years) do you want to spend paying for one day? And couldn't that $28,427 have bought you something a little more lasting? After all, you'd still be married even if you spent just one-fourth of that amount. Would you willingly pay more than $21,000 for a wedding DVD and a few albums of photographs? Readers: Got any tips for keeping wedding costs at a reasonable level? More on MSN Money: How to pay off wedding debt 10 marriage-busting money mistakes A grand slam wedding at Denny's? Yes the price seems steep but people don't have to do the average wedding. More and more couples are going cheap, small weddings without tons of fan fair. Keep in mind the couple are rarely paying for these average weddings themselves across two incomes, often parents, close relatives and sometimes but rarely siblings and close friends help out. Both sides parents usually are paying decently into it so couples don't need quite as much as a $28,427. Between say 4 incomes if the groom and bride work and parents of each contribute it's not so scary.   I hear a lot about people skipping rehearsal dinners and receptions for a smaller affair at a home, if home/yard can fit the most of guests BlogArticle family money frugal marriage wedding http://money.msn.com/frugal-living/post.aspx?post=3e54058d-784b-4951-b423-434ef0f36320 Protect your wallet -- by taking a nap Exhausted people aren't frugal people. Here's why a little extra sleep can pay off. Fri, 22 Mar 2013 10:23:44 -0700 Donna_Freedman 457d3544-4c18-4b6c-b924-c3c5f7f0fe51 3e54058d-784b-4951-b423-434ef0f36320 BlogArticle B78676EAEBE0C447 16 23 2013-03-11T15:14:38.863 Exhausted people aren't frugal people. Here's why a little extra sleep can pay off. Feeling a little groggy today? Join the club. Daylight saving time kicks a bunch of us right in the head every year. That's why National Napping Day was invented in 1999 by Dr. William Anthony, then a professor at Boston University’s Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. The Monday after the time switch was an obvious choice because "Americans are more 'nap-ready' than usual after losing an hour of sleep," according to BU archives. To celebrate, I took a nap on Sunday. It lasted maybe half an hour and it worked just as well as the ones that kept me going while I obtained a university degree in my late 40s. The long bus commute, classes, homework, studying, and my MSN Money job plus an apartment house managing gig left me perpetually exhausted. Whenever possible I'd factor in a 20- to 40-minute nap. These short snoozes kept me going long enough to graduate. They kept me frugal, too. What's the connection? Exhausted people are less likely to: Cook. Takeout costs a lot. The alternative -- eating mostly out of cans or boxes -- is not a balanced diet, which can lead to health issues that also cost money. Stay on top of chores. Hiring part-time help can dent your budget, but living in clutter or with things that need repair isn't ideal either. Exercise. Sedentary habits lead to health issues, too. Socialize. Too beat to hang out? Not good for your head or your body, since isolated people fall into some unhealthy habits. Put another way: Your best friends should not be your couch, the remote and a bag of chips. Be fun to socialize with. It's hard to be a good friend, partner or parent when you're weary. Maybe you're just too tired to enjoy what other people suggest (a bike ride, a board game, a bedtime story) or maybe you're downright grouchy. Either way, you're no fun. Grabbing 40 winks Get over the idea that pushing through fatigue is what winners do. Sure, some people seem to thrive on just a few hours of sleep in every 24. They're the exception. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.   On days when you haven't had enough sleep, a brief siesta can save you. If it makes you feel any better, known nappers include Napoleon, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. A little shut-eye is all you need. The NSF suggests 20 to 30 minutes in midday, a time frame less likely to leave you feeling groggy. A longer nap might also keep you awake when it's actually bedtime. Your mileage may vary, though. Most of my college-era naps took place between 5 and 7 p.m. Of course, I rarely went to bed before 1 a.m., so I still had plenty of time for my body to get tired once more. "But I work," you might be wailing. A few possible tactics: Is there a break room/employee lounge? Go there at lunchtime. Curl up in a chair (or on the sofa, if you're lucky enough to have one) and set your cell phone alarm for 20 to 30 minutes. That still gives you a few minutes to eat your brown-bag lunch and get back to work. Or maybe your work area clears out from noon to 1 p.m. -- if so, put your head down on your desk and pretend you're in kindergarten once more. Got an office all your own? Lock the door, forward your phone and zone out. Live near the workplace and got an hour for lunch? Run home for a 20-minute nap. Get creative: A former co-worker was known to go out for a brief nap in his car. If you can't get enough sleep at night, grab some during the day. Your budget will thank you. So will your friends, your family and that dog you've been too tired to walk. More on MSN Money: The high cost of daylight saving time Cut your medical bills by 30% Health and beauty products you don't need Want insurance? Get on the scale Wow, somebody got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.  Just sign off, Ben, you certainly haven't won any friends or influenced any one with your bitter rants. BlogArticle frugal health saving money http://money.msn.com/frugal-living/post.aspx?post=b3a3268b-9971-472c-a285-ae86de18104d Cash in your kid's closet? A new study says the average family has $1,318 worth of saleable children's gear -- and resale has never been easier. Some parents even turn a profit. Thu, 07 Mar 2013 19:35:23 -0800 Donna_Freedman 457d3544-4c18-4b6c-b924-c3c5f7f0fe51 b3a3268b-9971-472c-a285-ae86de18104d BlogArticle B78676EAEBE0C447 0 1 2013-03-08T18:07:27.18 A new study says the average family has $1,318 worth of saleable children's gear -- and resale has never been easier. Some parents even turn a profit. That adorable dress Grandma sent was worn exactly once. Or maybe your little buckaroo outgrew his stylin' cowboy boots before he could break them in properly.    A new study from the children's clothing resale site thredUP says that the average family has  has $1,318 worth of saleable children's wear. Reselling has never been easier. Children's consignment stores, eBay, community resale events, Facebook groups and online companies like thredUP, Moxie Jean and Seams Karmic make it possible to turn outgrown clothing and gear into cash money.  At times those new-to-you outfits are new, period. Ashley Nuzzo, who blogs at Frugal Coupon Living, buys from as well as sells to thredUP; plenty of her purchases show up with department-store tags still attached.   Other parents also plow the money back into those same sources to re-outfit their kids for less. Some have turned reselling into a profitable sideline. Tiffani Taff makes as much as $900 a year selling her kids' outgrown clothes -- or clothes they've never had a chance to wear. "I have purchased items just to turn around and resell (them)," says Taff, who blogs at  Thrifty Tiff.   Things to know  Interviews with a handful of Savings.com DealPros turned up the following best-practice tips on turning old clothes into new money: Inspect before selling. Items with grass stains or obvious wear won't be accepted for consignment. (Would you pay top dollar for a beat-up item?) However, they might sell for a quarter at your next yard sale as "play clothes." Iron everything. The clothes will look much spiffier on the consignment store rack or in the online photos. Think "ensemble." When possible put together outfits versus selling shorts and tops or skirts and blouses singly. "Presentation is huge. . . . If your clothing looks top-notch people will be willing to spend more," says Melissa Buckles of The Bargain Shopper Mom.  Go local. Don't want to fuss with mailing? Consignment shops will sell your duds and split the money. The advantage is lots of traffic; the disadvantage is, well, having to split the money. Look for consignment sales in your area; these, too, have lots of traffic but you may get to keep more of the cash. Courtney Solstad, a Dallas mom of three, recently earned $300 (after fees) at such a sale. Go really local. Solstad also belongs to a Facebook group devoted to selling children's clothing and gear. It's like an online garage sale except that "you don't have to scavenge -- you see a picture and you buy it," says the mom of three, who blogs at My Crazy Savings. In the past two months Solstad has made $500 via Facebook. Worth your time?  The pass-it-along tradition among new parents will likely never go away. It's good frugal karma to share those jeans or onesies. But if you're feeling pinched economically, why not sell that Burberry dress your daughter's godmother sent? The thredUP study lists  which brands hold their value for resale. Look for such clothing at yard sales and thrift or consignment shops. Or retail stores: Taff hits a twice-annual clearance sale at The Children's Place. "Items go as low as 99 cents," she says, and can be resold for $3 or $4. Be sure to factor in any costs -- postage, eBay fees, the consignment store's cut -- and also the amount of work involved. While it can be as simple as filling up and mailing a postage-paid box or dropping off your little duds at a local shop, this still involves sorting, inspecting and ironing. Depending on your circumstances that can certainly be worth your while. The women I interviewed swear by the process. But if you're super-busy and have only a few saleable items, you need to decide whether making an extra $20 is worth the hours and potential stress. More on MSN Money: When frugal meets baby 10 surprising newborn costs Children's birthday parties: Stop the madness! Why you should be a mean parent That adorable dress Grandma sent was worn exactly once. Or maybe your little buckaroo outgrew his stylin' cowboy boots before he could break them in properly.    A new study from the children's clothing resale site thredUP says that the average family has  has $1,318 worth of saleable children's wear. Reselling has never been easier. Children's consignment stores, eBay, community resale events, Facebook groups and online companies like thredUP, Moxie Jean and Seams Karmic make it possible to turn outgrown clothing and gear into cash money.  At times those new-to-you outfits are new, period. Ashley Nuzzo, who blogs at Frugal Coupon Living, buys from as well as sells to thredUP; plenty of her purchases show up with department-store tags still attached.   Other parents also plow the money back into those same sources to re-outfit their kids for less. Some have turned reselling into a profitable sideline. Tiffani Taff makes as much as $900 a year selling her kids' outgrown clothes -- or clothes they've never had a chance to wear. "I have purchased items just to turn around and resell (them)," says Taff, who blogs at  Thrifty Tiff.   Things to know  Interviews with a handful of Savings.com DealPros turned up the following best-practice tips on turning old clothes into new money: Inspect before selling. Items with grass stains or obvious wear won't be accepted for consignment. (Would you pay top dollar for a beat-up item?) However, they might sell for a quarter at your next yard sale as "play clothes." Iron everything. The clothes will look much spiffier on the consignment store rack or in the online photos. Think "ensemble." When possible put together outfits versus selling shorts and tops or skirts and blouses singly. "Presentation is huge. . . . If your clothing looks top-notch people will be willing to spend more," says Melissa Buckles of The Bargain Shopper Mom.  Go local. Don't want to fuss with mailing? Consignment shops will sell your duds and split the money. The advantage is lots of traffic; the disadvantage is, well, having to split the money. Look for consignment sales in your area; these, too, have lots of traffic but you may get to keep more of the cash. Courtney Solstad, a Dallas mom of three, recently earned $300 (after fees) at such a sale. Go really local. Solstad also belongs to a Facebook group devoted to selling children's clothing and gear. It's like an online garage sale except that "you don't have to scavenge -- you see a picture and you buy it," says the mom of three, who blogs at My Crazy Savings. In the past two months Solstad has made $500 via Facebook. Worth your time?  The pass-it-along tradition among new parents will likely never go away. It's good frugal karma to share those jeans or onesies. But if you're feeling pinched economically, why not sell that Burberry dress your daughter's godmother sent? The thredUP study lists  which brands hold their value for resale. Look for such clothing at yard sales and thrift or consignment shops. Or retail stores: Taff hits a twice-annual clearance sale at The Children's Place. "Items go as low as 99 cents," she says, and can be resold for $3 or $4. Be sure to factor in any costs -- postage, eBay fees, the consignment store's cut -- and also the amount of work involved. While it can be as simple as filling up and mailing a postage-paid box or dropping off your little duds at a local shop, this still involves sorting, inspecting and ironing. Depending on your circumstances that can certainly be worth your while. The women I interviewed swear by the process. But if you're super-busy and have only a few saleable items, you need to decide whether making an extra $20 is worth the hours and potential stress. More on MSN Money: When frugal meets baby 10 surprising newborn costs Children's birthday parties: Stop the madness! Why you should be a mean parent BlogArticle bargains children clothes family family money frugal raising children http://money.msn.com/frugal-living/post.aspx?post=2ae9a70a-6189-4e3c-9f85-f232a6cdb222 Living frugal but looking rich You know those people who can afford to travel, to pay cash for their cars and to buy homes? Not all of them are wealthy. Sun, 22 Dec 2013 16:41:22 -0800 Donna_Freedman 457d3544-4c18-4b6c-b924-c3c5f7f0fe51 2ae9a70a-6189-4e3c-9f85-f232a6cdb222 BlogArticle B78676EAEBE0C447 27 33 2013-03-07T15:51:49.303 You know those people who can afford to travel, to pay cash for their cars and to buy homes? Not all of them are wealthy. You hear a lot of gripes about the lack of willpower among 20-somethings. How they can't control their spending. How they shop recreationally and constantly. How they're up to their hairlines in student debt but still go out to eat every night. Most of all, how they gripe about being broke -- while sitting in coffeehouses texting friends from 5G phones. It's not often that you hear it from a 20-something, however. In this post on Budgets Are Sexy, blogger J. Money shares an e-mail rant from his friend Tiffany A., who's gotten some attitude from co-workers about her love of travel.   "Oh, you are so lucky -- you must be rich," they say. Tiffany doesn't see it that way. Here's an excerpt from her self-described "rant": "What frustrates me most about people my age is that they spend their money frivolously on stuff that doesn't really matter in the end. In my opinion, if you do that -- then it's your own fault you don't have more money! "Harsh but true. $30 manicures 2-3x a month and eating out 4-5x a week? If that's your choice, fine, but don't come crying to me saying you have no money … It just doesn't make sense to me. I know I am more disciplined than most but this isn't rocket science!" Tiffany turned 23 earlier this week. Right now she's working 60 to 70 hours a week: Starbucks barista, fast food shift supervisor and an occasional gig testing online coupons. She'll keep up that pace until late August, at which point she'll study in France for four months, as part of a master's degree program in "global innovation." She still finds time to go out -- "just not every night" -- and to meet with friends. She just started a blog, Extraordinary Reasons, that will focus on personal finance for young adults. 'You're responsible for your own choices' Tiffany acknowledges that she received two very significant advantages: Her parents were very frugal (her mother in particular modeled a watch-your-spending mentality) and they set aside money for their daughter's education. Thanks to a college job and an employer-backed scholarship, Tiffany knew she wouldn't need all the money. A couple of years ago she put down a chunk of the fund on a downturn-discounted condo in her college town. Rent from three of the four bedrooms covers the mortgage, taxes and upkeep. Is she "so lucky" and "rich"? Yes and no. Tiffany was given advantages but is working to make the most of them. If college money hadn't been available she'd still have had the job and the scholarship -- and she'd have opted to room with others to keep costs low after graduation. "You're responsible for your own choices and your own consequences," she says. The 70-hour workweek won't fly for everyone, obviously. In some regions it can be tough to find even one full-time job, and most people need more down time. Tiffany says she just likes to work, and that she chose her second job because it satisfies her love of good coffee and the coffeehouse atmosphere. (One of the job's perks, as it were, is a free weekly pound of beans.) Strategy, not penance No matter how many hours you work it's vital to live below your means, not at them. Some people live paycheck-to-paycheck because they aren't paid enough to keep up with the basics of living. Others spend every dime because they can't see any further than this weekend's activities. You're not cheating yourself by choosing a frugal lifestyle. Living intentionally means eliminating the buy-buy-buy mindset that will keep debts coming. Taking control of your finances means taking control of your life. That doesn't mean a life of lack. You can look rich while living frugally. Inexpensive ways exist to house, clothe, feed and entertain yourself. Tiffany brown-bags her lunch and shops at Goodwill -- but she also travels outside the United States every year. This is strategy, not penance. It's done for a specific goal. In Tiffany's case, that's to leverage her work ethic and, yes, her initial advantage into a debt-free adulthood. It can be tough to be frugal in your 20s. Your peers spend every penny (and then some) while you make careful decisions to achieve specific financial goals -- dreams that sometimes seem awfully far away. But you are responsible for only your own choices, not theirs. Ten years from now they'll be wishing they'd been a little more intentional about their spending. More on MSN Money: What keeps you from saving? How to stop living paycheck to paycheck When frugal meets baby The cure for a Groupon goof 8 extraordinary, cheap entertainments Dont spend your money,invest with your money to create assets that have your money work you!!!...seek the 3 E's and you will reap the rewards BlogArticle budgeting cheap frugal saving money http://money.msn.com/frugal-living/post.aspx?post=b7b69fa4-d28d-458c-b9f5-25b0e1a68eea Freebies: It's all about the beverages This week you can get baby formula, specialty tea or a $5 Starbucks card. Krispy Kreme doughnuts are up for grabs, too. Fri, 08 Mar 2013 22:51:20 -0800 Donna_Freedman 457d3544-4c18-4b6c-b924-c3c5f7f0fe51 b7b69fa4-d28d-458c-b9f5-25b0e1a68eea BlogArticle B78676EAEBE0C447 2 4 2013-03-06T15:47:19.577 This week you can get baby formula, specialty tea or a $5 Starbucks card. Krispy Kreme doughnuts are up for grabs, too. March is here, and plenty of us would like to think that means "spring." But it ain't necessarily so -- just ask anyone who lives in the Midwest or on the East Coast, where so-called "heart attack snow" has been falling. And falling. The folks who sell shovels and hot drinks are rejoicing. Those who have to do the shoveling? Not so much. But here are a couple of chances to get free hot drinks. They won't make the snow go away, but they'll provide a little warmth and comfort. And savings: The money you don't spend on coffee or tea can be put toward the ibuprofen you might need after clearing off your front steps. The Teavana chain routinely offers tasty samples of whatever specialty teas are brewing that day. But over on the FatWallet.com Free Stuff forum, a deal hound named "Bluefw" posted  this printable coupon good for a free 16-ounce cup of Teavana's featured brews. Use it before March 31 at participating locations. If you haven't joined the Starbucks Rewards loyalty program, here's a little incentive: Join and register your loyalty card and you'll get $5 in coffeehouse credit. Jen at  BeFrugal.com says this offer expires March 14. All this talk of free coffee and tea might make you think of doughnuts. You might not have to pay for those, either. Wendi at The Freebie Blogger reports that Krispy Kreme is running a Daylight Savings Time promotion on Sunday, March 10:  a free glazed doughnut at all participating locations. She calls it "a sweet reason to wake up earlier." Can't get to the doughnut store that day? Through April 21 you can get a free glazed doughnut if you buy a glass of milk at Krispy Kreme. (Thanks to the Thrifty NW Mom blog.)   More gratis grabs Airborne hobbits: Deal hound "Goop" at FatWallet brings us " Hobbit Jetpack Runner," a free download for iPhone. Yes, I used "jetpack" and "hobbit" in the same sentence. If you're willing to pay 99 cents you can get the no-ad version. Baby your baby: Up to $250 in freebies plus infant development advice can be yours if you join the Enfamil Family Beginnings program. (Thanks to  MySavings.com.) Antivirus protection: Don't pay for this! Erin Huffstetler of MyFrugalHome.com suggests getting a free download of Microsoft Security Essentials. She's been using it for several years now with great results. (Microsoft owns and publishes MSN Money.)   More on MSN Money: Craziest ways to save a buck 8 things you shouldn't cheap out on Keep your wallet in your pocket Thanks! Except that up here in Alaska it's 59 cents. :-( BlogArticle budgeting cheap entertainment free frugal saving money http://money.msn.com/frugal-living/post.aspx?post=c2270bf0-f61c-484b-8a4f-ae3912fa78d9 How to say no to a Girl Scout The cookie sale is the most visible youth fundraiser, but kids sell stuff all year. What if you can't afford to buy, or disagree on principle? Mon, 11 Mar 2013 08:11:51 -0700 Donna_Freedman 457d3544-4c18-4b6c-b924-c3c5f7f0fe51 c2270bf0-f61c-484b-8a4f-ae3912fa78d9 BlogArticle B78676EAEBE0C447 85 100 2013-03-05T17:06:19.303 The cookie sale is the most visible youth fundraiser, but kids sell stuff all year. What if you can't afford to buy, or disagree on principle? A gaggle of cute little girls had set up shop inside the supermarket on Sunday. One of them planted herself in my path as I walked toward the produce section. "Cookies?" she said, smiling winsomely. "Not today, thanks," I said. "Good luck with your sale." Her adorable face fell. Maybe it was her first "no" of the day. Or ever: Could be that no one else in the world has been able to resist that smile. Although not completely immune (more on that below), I generally have a hard time with youth fundraisers. But not as hard a time as Kristen Daukas, who posted a pixel-blistering rant at BlogHer called " If you don't buy from my kid, I won't buy from yours."  Seems that a neighbor's kids sold Daukas $75 worth of stuff one year. Their mom reciprocated with . . . a single, $4 purchase from a Daukas daughter. "The next year they came a knockin', I delighted in telling them that I had already bought from another Scout that year and that no, I don't need a tumbler from a high school that we won't be at for another four years," Daukas writes. "I'm not saying you have to buy every little thing from every little kid, but if I'm buying from yours, you better buy from mine at least once or twice." Strong-arming sales? The blogger and some of those who commented on her post pretty much nailed the reasons I dislike fundraisers. Too often they're for junky products -- Daukas freely admits that she's sold "a lot of crap" -- and they're always overpriced. Kids are urged to meet sales minimums; top salespeople get prizes like stuffed animals, pizza parties or limo rides. (Really?) Friends, family and co-workers are strong-armed into buying, particularly when there's an order sheet on display. Who wants to feel like the office Grinch? If such sales aren't in your budget, prepare to be Grinch-y over and over: Sales, sponsorships and other money grabs flow through the workplace all year long. Embarrassing enough to admit you're so strapped, but to have to do it over and over? Potentially the most stressful embarrassing of all: Suppose the fundraiser is for an organization with which you have some philosophical differences? It's not easy to tell a sweet-faced pre-adolescent that you can't help him because you don't like the group's policies on inclusion.   One or more of these tips may help:   Don't buy what you can't afford. Yep, it's hard to say no. Say it anyway. But say it like this: "Wish I could help, but that's just not in my budget right now. Good luck with your sale." You might be ale to avoid this if you . . . Spread out your "giving" budget. Don't blow the whole thing on Thin Mints or the soccer league's microwave popcorn. Figure out how much you can afford to spend per year and divide by 12. If you don't use any of the money one month, move it ahead to the next. No room in your budget for fundraisers? You can soften the "no" if you . . . Make a small cash donation. Your entire $2 will go to the school, versus a small percentage of the price for that costly gift wrap. Most of us can find $2 to $5 somewhere (even those of us who don't drink lattes). Again, though: What if you object to gift wrap in general, or to the made-in-China tchotchkes the kids get as prizes? You can always . . . Say, "I've bought all I can afford to buy." And if you haven't? Make the fib a truth by donating to a cause you believe in.  Stopping the salesmanship?Other people probably feel the same way you do: that they're being nickel-and-dimed to death and/or stressed about feeling like the office curmudgeon. If sales are causing tension in the workplace, maybe they shouldn't be there. Talk to the big boss or the human resources director about banning such sales, or at least setting a few ground rules. For example, band parents and den mothers could post price sheets and their email addresses but refrain from direct sales. Before you write me off as an incurable meanie, let me say that last year I bought virtual Girl Scout cookies. That is, I sent money to a friend who dropped off the sweets at a local fire station. Her daughter got credit for the sale, and I got to avoid temptation. This year I've done two other virtual purchases, choosing things that the sellers (my nephews) like to eat and telling their mom to keep the stuff when it arrived. Were any of those things frugal? Nope -- just community service. In fact, I tried to make a cash donation to my nephews' cause but was told that wasn't possible -- that the school had an agreement with the sales company. Grrrr. Some fundraisers are easier to bear than others. I do like the car washes, since they're usually "pay what you can" and you wind up with something you actually want: cleaner wheels. Last year a friend and I dropped $10 to have a high school drama/debate/forensics team give the vehicle a once-over. My own kid lettered in DDF; it was considered a sport. Readers: What's your policy on youth fundraisers? Got any strategies to share? More on MSN Money: Children's birthday parties: Stop the madness! When frugal meets baby Why you should be a mean parent I have a 13yr old and hate the sales stuff.  I would rather just give money directly to the schools.  I hate guilting people and most of the time we don't even bother with it anymore.  We did more so in elementary but now I just give the money to cover the costs for my child or even sometimes a little more without having to sell anything.  I have had some family and friends ask why I don't hit them up when he is selling something ("We would have bought something") but it is a pain.  Sometimes I will put a link out there on Facebook if the company offers one (the magazine fundraisers do).  Then if someone wants it great, if not, who cares?   They did not have these crazy fundraisers all of the time when I was in school.  They have 4-5 now a year!  I know the kids have a trip to DC planned for next year and fund raisers to pay for it.  I already told my son I would cover his costs.  Anyway, I love your suggestions and glad you take a stand.  I hardly carry cash on me so it is easy enough for me to walk past and wish well.  I'm not aware of them taking cards (although they may these days).  I do buy some cookies from a friend because I WANT them.  LOL.  Otherwise, I have my charities of choice that I already give to. BlogArticle budgeting family family money frugal raising children http://money.msn.com/frugal-living/post.aspx?post=c02d488f-d51f-48b9-a624-8e3119f10f35 Craziest ways to save a buck DoSomething.org's new contest offers a $4,000 scholarship for the wildest money-saving tip. What's yours? Mon, 11 Mar 2013 14:04:54 -0700 Donna_Freedman 457d3544-4c18-4b6c-b924-c3c5f7f0fe51 c02d488f-d51f-48b9-a624-8e3119f10f35 BlogArticle B78676EAEBE0C447 11 2 2013-03-04T16:45:34.423 DoSomething.org's new contest offers a $4,000 scholarship for the wildest money-saving tip. What's yours? What's the most bizarre thing you ever did to save a buck, or even a dime? If you're a student, DoSomething.org wants to know: The site is offering a $4,000 scholarship in its " the craziest thing I ever did to save money" contest.    It's part of a financial education campaign launched by the nonprofit, which focuses on young people and social change. Nearly seven out of 10 youths surveyed by DoSomething.org say that they’ve never had "a meaningful conversation" with their parents about personal finance, and that their top fears are about paying for college and having enough money. DoSomething.org will be adding real tips and tools on saving money. Good thing: While some of the student-contributed tips are creative and useful, others are actually false economies. A recurring one is "I keep extra napkins/condiments from restaurants." Um . . . if you're broke, what are you doing in restaurants? How much did you spend on food so you could get a few cents' worth of "free" ketchup or taco sauce? Some of the best are the tips I mentally grouped under two general categories: "Points for creativity" and "Desperate times call for desperate measures." And among those two groupings, my favorites are: Desperate: "I once sold all my clothes but two outfits so I could save the money to pay for a class." Creativity: "I told my friends and family . . . if they see me pull out a dollar or even talk about money, hit me as hard as they could right in the face. Boy, did they enjoy that!" I bet they did. Spare change, spare clothing Some of the tips are standard frugal hacks: carpooling, washing and reusing plastic bags, getting CDs from the library instead of from Redbox. However, these are probably new to some students who get to school -- or get out of school -- and realize how expensive life can be. Along with the inevitable "I go dumpster-diving" and "I eat ramen every day" tips are some that make for entertaining reading: Good to the last drop. "I cut open toothpaste tubes -- there's always so much stuck inside!" one young person marveled. (Welcome to the world of the truly frugal.  We have much to teach you.) Green and profitable. One student cleans up after parties and then recycles the empty cans and bottles. Another one recycles plastic bottles from roommates and trades in the My Coke Rewards points for free sodas. Keep the change. "I used to stop in the middle of the road to get pennies," one student wrote. (I still do!) Another searches parking lots for spare change, and a third walks to arcades to look for dropped quarters. (May I suggest the returned-change bin of the Coinstar machine?) Designer duds: Turning old jeans into shorts. Turning mom's boyfriend's old jeans into shorts (with permission, I hope). Turning old T-shirts into tank tops and headbands. Going to campus events just for the free T-shirt: "I don't have to buy T-shirts or do laundry any more." Consigning duds: A lot of students sold some of their clothes; one clever kid buys "vintage" clothes at thrift stores and sells them to consignment shops. Niiiice. Food, and the aftermath Small plates: A number of students say they fill up on free samples offered by warehouse stores. (Good idea, unless that means driving a lot -- gasoline isn't free!) Faux food. Ramen, ramen and more ramen. Nothing but mayonnaise sandwiches, or chili, or peanut butter for a week. One student eats just two meals a day: Bread and milk for breakfast and rice and broccoli for dinner. Another suggests getting 70%-off candy after major holidays (not good for you, maybe, but a nice distraction from all that broccoli). Free food. "Me and my roommates went door to door in our dorm and sang for groceries." One student found a restaurant where employees ate free: "I worked there two years and hardly ate anything else." Another volunteers at a food kitchen because they feed me, too." Desperate times/measures. Asking for toilet paper as a 21st birthday present. (Well, at least you know it's a gift that will be used.) Ethically challenged? A few of the tips, sadly, are questionable or downright illegal. A repeated motif is re-using cups from fast-food restaurants to get free refills for weeks or even months. There's a word for that -- and it isn't "frugal." Another student displayed a photo of a large tub of movie popcorn: "I got it out of the trash to get the free refill." (Does it matter who paid if the refill is included in the purchase price? Discuss.) "I walk to a public restroom whenever I have to go so I won't have to buy toilet paper for my own bathroom," one student wrote. (Define public: a store, a hotel, a state office building? Somebody somewhere is paying.) "I slowly sell my son's Pokemon cards on eBay that his mother buys for him." (Seriously, Dad? Shame on you. Or maybe you're just a troll.) "My boyfriend and I ran an extension cord secretly from the house next door and didn't get caught." (And again I say: Shame on you.) Readers: What's the craziest thing you ever did/are currently doing to save money? More on MSN Money: What will -- or won't -- you do to save a buck? 12 everyday essentials you can make 8 things you shouldn't cheap out on Keep your wallet in your pocket 'Frugal' doesn't mean 'deprived' When I was in college, I lived on those frozen burritos.  I was always hungry, but I skipped breakfast, had one burrito for lunch, and one for dinner. I don't recommend it, but once I lived on only tap water for 2 1/2 months.  I saved lots of money by not buying food, but my eyesight suffered.  Any money I saved by starving myself was later spent on new glasses and (eventually) LASIK surgery after I graduated.  Now, THAT was absolutely crazy. BlogArticle budgeting cheap college free frugal scholarships http://money.msn.com/frugal-living/post.aspx?post=7ae1de46-8824-45df-8e2d-d72c60ce3260 Yahoo move casts shadow over telecommuting Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has come down hard on the company's work-at-home policy. She risks losing some good employees. Tue, 05 Mar 2013 11:05:39 -0800 Donna_Freedman 457d3544-4c18-4b6c-b924-c3c5f7f0fe51 7ae1de46-8824-45df-8e2d-d72c60ce3260 BlogArticle B78676EAEBE0C447 2 1 2013-03-01T15:32:06.273 Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has come down hard on the company's work-at-home policy. She risks losing some good employees. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer recently announced that as of June all employees would be required to work on-site. A huge howl arose on behalf of location-independent workers everywhere: If it works, why fix it? Except that at long-struggling Yahoo perhaps it isn't working. Business Insider recently interviewed an ex-Yahoo engineer who talked about remote workers who put in minimal effort and were regularly unavailable when needed. The source said Mayer's decision was needed to deal with "Yahoo's huge, bloated infrastructure." Specifically: Slackers who don't want supervision will quit, which keeps the company from having to lay them off. While I understand Mayer's need to prune dead wood, I think she'll damage some perfectly healthy branches in the process. Luke Landes of Consumerism Commentary said it quite well:  "Voluntary attrition always backfires. "By making conditions worse for employees in an effort to let a portion of the workforce go without explicitly firing people, Yahoo stands to lose its best employees, not its worst," Landes wrote in a post called " Working from home: A benefit or a distraction?" "These folks can do better than Yahoo. They can find a job relatively quickly, one offering the benefits no longer available at the waning tech behemoth." The work-life balance Some declared Mayer's decision a slap at working mothers who find telecommuting helps their families operate more smoothly. Working at home even one or two days a week usually means paying less for child care. It also saves money in other ways, such as lower commuting costs and less professional clothing to buy (and likely dry-clean). Less time spent on highways or public transit translates to reduced stress and fatigue. Telecommuters can save because they are less likely to resort to buying takeout and outsourcing chores. They might be less likely to succumb to costly stress-related health issues. But the work-life balance is also tricky for those who do not have parenting responsibilities. Too often the bosses expect your work to be your life. Landes, of Consumerism Commentary, noted that Mayer seems to be looking for people willing to sacrifice things like time with family and friends. Again, this might burn off some dead wood. But it could burn out some dedicated workers, who put in extra effort because of the telecommuting option. Companies that care I don't work at Yahoo, obviously. But I can speak to the issue because of my current and past employment history. Right now, as long as I deliver on my assignments, the company doesn't much care where I write them. Back in my newspapering days of the 1980s and '90s, we weren't allowed to telecommute because the publisher thought reporters belonged in the newsroom. But even back in those dark ages of work-life balance the newspaper was flexible enough to let you work from home if your kid got sick. Knowing I could be home if I had to was a huge benefit. In 1998, my daughter became critically ill with a rare neurological disease while away at college. I flew down to be with her during the 11-week hospitalization. During that time my higher-ups:  Didn't bat an eye when I said I'd be out of the office for an unknowable amount of time. Let me string together all my sick and vacation leave. Agreed to let me come back for two, one-week work sessions. Paid me for some "work" that didn't really amount to much, toward the end of the hospitalization. In all, I missed only a couple of weeks' worth of salary. That's because the publisher knew me and my family. He knew our situation. He even knew our daughter: Over the years I'd been permitted to bring her in if an assignment kept me working later than the after-school care stayed open. How many Yahoo employees does Mayer know, I wonder? Methods vs. results Obviously you don't get to be a CEO without a serious work ethic. In fact, Mayer returned to the job just two weeks after giving birth to her son in September.   Of course, Mayer's version of parenthood is a tad more privileged than most: She paid to have a nursery built at the office. The CEO also has the salary to smooth over issues like commuting, cooking, cleaning, and saving for college and retirement. Not everyone wants to struggle up the corporate ladder. Plenty of us want to have jobs that, as author Sinclair Lewis puts it, allow us to be "free, and even human, after hours." I wouldn't go so far as to predict, "As Yahoo goes, so go all corporations." But I wonder how many other managers might cast a critical eye on telecommuting. They'd do well to focus on results versus methods. If you deliver the goods, does it matter whether you deliver them by way of 40 cubicle hours a week or from your living room sofa? Put another way: I'd already been happy with the newspaper job despite its at-times insane hours and tiny salary increases (when we got raises at all). The company's compassionate response during my daughter's illness cemented my desire to go above and beyond as an employee. If it hadn't been for my husband's getting a job somewhere else, I'd be there still. You can't buy that kind of loyalty. But you can chase it away pretty easily. Readers: Do you telecommute? Are you concerned that the Yahoo decision will affect your employer's policies? More on MSN Money: You want a raise, but do you deserve one? Your salary data may be for sale Are high earners getting the shaft? 4 jobs for getting back into the workforce Some people stray WITH supervision -- they look busy when the boss is around, and slack the rest of the time. I think if you produce good work from home you should be allowed to work there, at least some of the time. Then again, I'm not a CEO. Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment. BlogArticle child care children family family money work at home