Home http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/3754/all en-US Architect, Designer, or Contractor: Who Should You Hire for Your Project? http://www.wisebread.com/architect-designer-or-contractor-who-should-you-hire-for-your-project <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/architect-designer-or-contractor-who-should-you-hire-for-your-project" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-538862504.jpg" alt="Couple deciding if they need an architect, contractor, or designer" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I'd like to add a bathroom to my home, but my budget will be limited. One thing I've been wondering: What professionals will I need to hire to do the job? Should I spend money on a designer or architect to plan the space out? Or should I just hire a contractor and tell them where I want the toilet, sink, and shower?</p> <p>Researching this question, I learned that it's important to understand the difference between these professionals and what they do.</p> <h2>The architect</h2> <p>An architect comes to your home and listens to your hopes and dreams for the remodeling project, talks about your budget, then draws up a plan to make it happen. An architect's involvement could stop there, or you could hire them to manage the project, selecting and checking up on the contractor.</p> <h3>An architect's qualifications</h3> <p>Architects are state-licensed, a process that requires a degree in architecture, an apprenticeship, and an exam to prove their mastery of building technologies, structural safety, and regulations.</p> <h3>What an architect costs</h3> <p>The standard cost is $50 to $200 per hour, or a 5 percent to 20 percent project fee if overseeing the whole thing.</p> <h2>The designer</h2> <p>A designer will use their expertise to come up with appealing ideas for carrying out your desires, give budget estimates, and draw plans. A basic design would include the floor plan and built-in features such as cupboards, while a full-service designer might include color and material ideas, and even shopping for fixtures. Designers are less likely to manage the whole project than architects are, but some do.</p> <h3>A designer's qualifications</h3> <p>Some states license designers, while others don't. They don't generally need to have a degree, but you can find out if they've done good work by asking for customer references.</p> <h3>What a designer costs</h3> <p>Their rates are typically $50 to $200 per hour &mdash; yes, a similar range as an architect &mdash; although architects tend to charge more than designers. Some designers have a minimum project fee of, say, $5,000. One design firm recommends that you <a href="http://carlaaston.com/designed/" target="_blank">budget 8 percent to 12 percent of your project</a> for design.</p> <h2>The contractor</h2> <p>Generally, the contractor will oversee the entire project and make sure everything is done according to your expectations. They will determine the cost and give you a contract, design it, provide the carpenter, plumber, and other workers, and supervise the work. The contractor may have a designer or architect in-house that they partner with, or they may be open to working with a professional of your choice. Many contractors are quite willing to do the design themselves, if given the opportunity.</p> <h3>A contractor's qualifications</h3> <p>Contractors must pass exams to become licensed, and without that license, they won't be able to pull permits with local authorities to get your job done on the up and up.</p> <h3>What a contractor costs</h3> <p>Instead of charging you an hourly rate, contractors generally pay themselves on a &quot;cost plus&quot; basis &mdash; that is, they take the amount they expect the project to cost to complete, then add a markup, often 50 percent. So, if they estimate that the labor and materials for your job will cost $20,000, they'll charge $30,000. That extra $10,000 isn't pure profit, though, since they'll have to pay overhead out of it.</p> <h2>So, which one should you hire?</h2> <p>Experts say it depends on the scope of the job.</p> <p>&quot;Many experienced contractors are as well equipped to deal with a simple remodel as an architect,&quot; writes Bob Vila. Because of minimum per-project fees, designer Carla Aston recommends doing the design yourself, with your contractor, if the project is under $10,000. If you want some design advice for small projects, you could hire a designer for a consultation, or work with someone who does online-only plans without physically visiting your space.</p> <p>Another way to look at the size of the project is to compare it to the value of your home. A project costing more than 5 percent of a home's value calls for an architect, Stamford, Connecticut, construction manager William Harke told Houselogic. So, if your home is worth $500,000, and you have a $25,000 budget for a kitchen update, get an architect.</p> <p>Personally, I let the contractor do the design for a $15,000 bathroom remodel, and while it worked out fine, I wished I'd had a little more input on ideas for, say, improving storage.</p> <p>With projects that cost more, who you hire depends on how much structural change you're looking at. While both a designer and an architect may have plans checked by an engineer to avoid safety problems, you're better off with an architect if your project involves expanding the footprint of your home, moving walls, or adding a level. Designers should be able to create a room's floor plans and suggest finishes. An architect's strength tends to lean toward the structural, a designer's skews toward the aesthetic &mdash; although both will certainly consider both aspects of a plan.</p> <p>Where I live, adding a bathroom will probably cost at least $25,000. Because that's more than $10,000, but less than 5 percent of my home value, because I won't need to change the structure of my home, and because I need ideas about how to fold as much storage as possible into a tight space, I plan to hire a designer &mdash; not an architect &mdash; for a consultation, and possibly to draw up the plan. I'll budget $2,500 of my $25,000 budget to pay this professional.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/architect-designer-or-contractor-who-should-you-hire-for-your-project">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-diy-home-renovating-for-you">Is DIY Home Renovating for You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-really-easy-ways-to-unclog-drains">10 Really Easy Ways to Unclog Drains</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-household-fixes-you-should-stop-paying-others-for">5 Household Fixes You Should Stop Paying Others For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-are-pricey-home-upgrades-really-worth">How Much Are Pricey Home Upgrades Really Worth?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-credit-cards-to-use-for-a-home-renovation">Best Credit Cards to Use For a Home Renovation</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home architect contractor designer home design home renovation Home repair projects renovation tips Thu, 23 Mar 2017 09:30:37 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1913751 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Ways Anyone Can Go Solar and Save on Energy http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-anyone-can-go-solar-and-save-on-energy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-ways-anyone-can-go-solar-and-save-on-energy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-129944919.jpg" alt="Woman saving on energy and going solar" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The more electricity you use, the more you pay for it. And in a world that is becoming increasingly dependent upon tech devices, something's gotta give. Luckily, there's a way to save money on those bills and help the environment, all at the same time. You just need to capture those intense rays of sunshine and use them for free energy. There are many ways you can harvest energy from the sun. Some methods are free and have been in use for thousands of years. Others require an investment in technology, but in some cases you can even make money by capturing free energy from the sun and selling it!</p> <h2>1. Solar panels</h2> <p>A few years ago, it would have been unusual to spot a house with solar panels on the roof, but now solar panels seem to be popping up in neighborhoods all over. If you have a south-facing roof (or west-facing) and get lots of sunny days in your area, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cut-your-electric-bill-with-solar-panels?ref=internal" target="_blank">installing solar panels</a> to generate electricity can be a smart investment. The cost of solar panels has dropped in recent years, and with major players such as Tesla starting to produce solar panels, further price drops and improvements in capability may lie ahead. If your solar panels generate more electricity than you use, in many states you can sell this extra energy to the utility company and make money through net metering programs.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Thousands of dollars up front, depending on square footage installed.</p> <p><strong>Potential savings:</strong> About a thousand dollars per year, depending on your location.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> No, solar panels typically require professional installation.</p> <h2>2. Passive solar heating</h2> <p>This method of harvesting energy from the sun is not new and does not require any special technology. My house has a solarium with south-facing windows to allow sunlight to flood in during winter months. The solarium walls capture the warmth and radiate it back into the house, providing free heating. Any south-facing windows you have in your house will work to provide heating benefits in winter. Open curtains on your south-facing windows on winter days to let light and heat in. Close curtains at night during winter and when the sun is shining in during the summer.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Free if you have south-facing windows.</p> <p><strong>Potential savings:</strong> Hundreds of dollars per year.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> No, look for south-facing windows when choosing or building a house.</p> <h2>3. Solar water heater</h2> <p>Heating water requires a lot of energy, so why not capture some of that free energy from the sun instead of running up your electric or gas bill? A solar water heater circulates water through an insulated collector using a water tank that is painted black to maximize heat collection. This hot water can be used directly or can be fed into a traditional water heater to save energy.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> A few hundred dollars, depending on whether or not you can install yourself.</p> <p><strong>Potential savings:</strong> Hundreds of dollars per year.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> A solar water heater can be built from plans and scavenged materials, but you may need a plumber to install.</p> <h2>4. Clothesline</h2> <p>With a clothesline in your yard, you can use free energy from the sun to dry clothes and avoid running your clothes' dryer on hot summer days. You can save the energy it takes to run your dryer, plus you'll save on cooling costs as well. Without having to use a fan or air conditioner just to cool down a part of your apartment or home that's hot from a running dryer, those summer energy bills will go way down. And if you don't have the available yard space outside to hang a clothesline, you can also install one indoors near a window.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Under $100</p> <p><strong>Potential savings:</strong> About a hundred dollars per year.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> Yes, installing a clothesline is a simple do-it-yourself project.</p> <h2>5. Solar food dehydrator</h2> <p>Instead of buying and powering yet another kitchen appliance, you can use free energy from the sun to dehydrate fruits, vegetables, and even meat for storage. Solar food dehydrators use a heat collection box to collect solar energy and a dehydrator box where food is placed to be dried.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Under $100</p> <p><strong>Potential savings: </strong>A few dollars per year.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> Yes, this can easily be built from plans.</p> <h2>6. Solar oven</h2> <p>You can build your own solar oven and enjoy some off-the-grid cooking. Can a solar oven really get hot enough to cook food, though? A solar oven typically reaches temperatures of 250-350 F. You can safely prepare food, including meat, by cooking at a lower temperature for a longer time. A big advantage of a solar oven is that you can cook in places without any utility hookups and without burning any fuel.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Under $100</p> <p><strong>Potential savings: </strong>A few dollars per year.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> Yes, this can easily be built from plans.</p> <h2>7. Grow plants</h2> <p>What does growing plants have to do with solar energy? Plants capture energy from the sun directly and use this energy to produce edible leaves, fruits, and vegetables. Harvesting food from plants is an effective and inexpensive way to take advantage of free solar energy.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Less than $100.</p> <p><strong>Potential savings:</strong> Hundreds of dollars per year, depends of size of garden.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> You bet!</p> <h2>8. Wind turbine</h2> <p>Heating of the earth's atmosphere from the sun provides the energy that causes wind to blow. If you have a site that gets a lot of wind, you can capture some of this indirect solar energy by using a wind turbine to generate electricity. As with solar panels, in many places you can take advantage of net metering and get paid for excess electricity that you generate and put on the power grid for others to use.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Thousands of dollars up front, depending on size.</p> <p><strong>Potential savings:</strong> Hundreds of dollars per year.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> Smaller units could be assembled and installed by a homeowner; larger units require professional installation.</p> <h2>9. Solar furnace</h2> <p>With a solar furnace, you can warm up air for free using energy from the sun and direct the warm air to a space you want to heat. A solar furnace can be operated independently from your main furnace to provide supplemental heating during daytime hours.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Hundreds of dollars up front.</p> <p><strong>Potential savings:</strong> Hundreds of dollars per year.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> Yes, this can be built from plans.</p> <h2>10. Solar charger</h2> <p>Solar chargers, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-solar-power-banks?ref=internal" target="_blank">solar power banks</a> directly use energy from the sun to power electronic devices. Many are small and easy to travel with, so you won't need to stress if you're somewhere outdoors and you can't plug in your phone charger. Use those intense rays to give your phone or other device the juice it needs before the sun goes down. You can also make this a regular charging option if you leave your charger out during the day, and use it at night to charge your devices while you sleep.</p> <p><strong>Cost: </strong>Less than $100</p> <p><strong>Potential savings: </strong>It varies, depending on how much you currently use your devices at home.</p> <p><strong>DIY?</strong> Yes, but the DIY won&rsquo;t save much compared to buying one.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dr-penny-pincher">Dr Penny Pincher</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-anyone-can-go-solar-and-save-on-energy">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-youre-wasting-electricity-without-realizing-it">8 Ways You&#039;re Wasting Electricity Without Realizing It</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-simple-gardening-skills-anybody-can-master">13 Simple Gardening Skills Anybody Can Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-green-living-habits-thatll-save-you-every-month">12 Green Living Habits That&#039;ll Save You Every Month</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-edible-garden-plants-anyone-can-grow">10 Edible Garden Plants Anyone Can Grow</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cut-your-electric-bill-with-solar-panels">Cut Your Electric Bill With Solar Panels</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Home electricity energy costs environmental costs gardening go green saving money solar heating solar panels Tue, 21 Mar 2017 10:31:12 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 1911513 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Things You Already Own That Can Be Turned Into a Tote Bag http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-already-own-that-can-be-turned-into-a-tote-bag <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-things-you-already-own-that-can-be-turned-into-a-tote-bag" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-544716754.jpg" alt="Woman using things she already owns to make a tote bag" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Need a bag to carry your stuff around, but don't want to head to the store to buy one? No problem. You can make a sturdy tote by upcycling things you already own. It's possible to make a pretty awesome tote bag without spending any money at all. Here are 10 items that you can easily transform into a tote.</p> <h2>1. T-shirt</h2> <p>If you have an old T-shirt in your closet, try <a href="http://www.mommypotamus.com/no-sew-t-shirt-tote-bag-tutorial/" target="_blank">turning it into a tote bag</a>. This no-sew tutorial takes just 10 minutes to complete. You'll need some sharp scissors and a washable marker. Cut the sleeves and neckline area off your shirt. Then figure out how deep you want your bag to be. Cut fringe at the base of your to-be bag, turn it inside out, and tie the fringe.</p> <p>Alternatively, you can leave the fringe out for a more stylish look.</p> <h2>2. Wool sweater</h2> <p>You can make a <a href="http://shabbynest.blogspot.com/2009/09/how-to-make-green-tote.html" target="_blank">felted tote bag using an old wool sweater</a>. Just wash the sweater using hot water and dry on high heat. This will make the fibers shrink and ultimately add strength to your bag. Cut the arms and neckline out of the shrunken sweater. Turn it inside out and then stitch along the bottom to close.</p> <p>You can also fold over the edges of the strap and hem if you like, but felted wool likely won't fray much if at all.</p> <h2>3. Jeans</h2> <p>Maybe you've recently lost some weight and are looking for ways to use your discarded roomy jeans. Make a tote out of 'em.<a href="http://www.craftymisadventures.com/2012/10/upcycled-denim-purse.html" target="_blank"> Upcycled denim</a> makes a particularly ingenious tote that has built-in pockets. What about a handle? Use the leg seams! It's super simple and will stand up to heavy loads. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-new-things-you-can-make-with-old-denim-jeans?ref=seealso" target="_blank">20 New Things You Can Make With Old Blue Jeans</a>)</p> <h2>4. Rice bag</h2> <p>Do you buy your rice in bulk? Keep the bag! Once you slice and dice it a bit, you can sew around the edges and <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Reusable-Grocery-Bag-Made-From-a-Rice-Bag/" target="_blank">make a durable grocery bag</a> that will last for years. You only need a few tools: scissors, a needle, and nylon thread. The rest is in the magic of folding it into the classic grocery bag shape and sewing it up.</p> <p>You can follow this exact same process using any stiff bag. <a href="http://www.fresheggsdaily.com/2012/01/make-your-own-feed-bag-tote.html" target="_blank">Feed bags for chickens</a> and other livestock make great choices as well. This type of bag is exceptionally easy to clean. That's great news if you plan to use it to pick up produce at the farmers market.</p> <h2>5. Place mats</h2> <p>Use place mats for this<a href="http://www.papernstitchblog.stfi.re/2016/06/01/budget-friendly-diy-crossbody-bag/" target="_blank"> DIY cross-body bag</a>. To make it, lay the place mats atop one another, inside out. Start at the bottom seam and thread with an embroidery needle. Stitch along three sides of the mats, leaving the top open. Turn bag right-side out. To add a strap, pull a loop from the inside of the bag. The tutorial says to then thread a purse strap through the loop on both sides.</p> <p>If you don't have a purse strap to use, consider braiding a thick rope using old T-shirts to your desired length.</p> <h2>6. Rag rug</h2> <p>You can complete a very similar project using an<a href="http://atticlace.blogspot.com/2013/06/diy-rag-bag-i-recently-picked-up-some.html" target="_blank"> old rag rug</a>. Fold your rug in half and pick up one of the corners to invert it slightly. (This will give the bag a nicer shape.) From there, you stitch both sides using an embroidery needle and floss. The author of this project used a yard of burlap to create a strap. Divide the yard in half and then sew onto the inside of the bag by hand. Yes, by hand. As you can imagine, the rug is likely too thick to run through a sewing machine.</p> <h2>7. Bed sheet</h2> <p>Here's a tote bag that will also transform<a href="http://www.brit.co/tote-blanket/" target="_blank"> into a picnic blanket</a> for those on-the-fly gatherings. What do you upcycle in this case? A full-size cotton bed sheet! This project may take you an entire weekend to complete, but it's well worth the effort.</p> <p>Lay out the sheet horizontally. You'll first cut out a square of fabric that will serve as the blanket. Then you'll use what's left over to make the tote. You eventually attach the two pieces so it's all connected and handy. The strap for this bag is made from the thicker piece at the top of the sheet.</p> <h2>8. Beach towel</h2> <p>This<a href="http://www.morelikehome.net/2015/09/beach-towel-tote-tutorial.html" target="_blank"> beach towel tote</a> helps you carry stuff to the beach and then soak up sun without getting sandy. You just need two towels. To sew the tote, start by making a comfortable pillow that you fill with stuffing. I think this project could also work if you leave the whole pillow portion out. Either way, you'll end up folding in the sides of the pillow to roll into the bag form. Then you sew a fabric pocket on the outside and make your straps. Boom. Beach bag.</p> <p>For the pocket and straps, it's helpful if you have a stronger fabric. Duck cloth works well, but you may also use old jeans.</p> <h2>9. Broken umbrella</h2> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/VcQS27AnM1M" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>We all have a wonky umbrella somewhere in a closet just waiting to be turned into this <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcQS27AnM1M" target="_blank">DIY tote bag</a>. The bonus here is that the bag will be so compact that you can stash it almost anywhere. To make this bag, you'll need some thread, pins, and a needle. You'll also need to create a rough pattern and find a patch to cover the hole where the fabric used to attach to the umbrella.</p> <p>To detach the umbrella fabric from its frame, carefully snip the thread that attaches it. Check for any holes and patch them. Fold the fabric in half, trace and cut to your pattern. Then sew along all the edges by hand or using a sewing machine.</p> <h2>10. Plastic bags</h2> <p>Plarn is yarn made from discarded plastic bags. You make it by simply laying a plastic bag out flat, removing the handle portion, and cutting the rest into strips. You then tie two strips together, then three, and so on, before rolling your upcycled yarn into a ball to use as you like.</p> <p>Once you've made a ball of your own plarn, you can knit or crochet up dozens of cool things. Here's a tutorial for a<a href="http://www.myrecycledbags.com/2007/07/03/crocheted-plarn-tote-bag/" target="_blank"> plastic yarn tote bag</a> that will long outlive all your individual plastic bags. You'll need a size 9-mm metal hook and crochet skills. When you've completed the project, your bag will measure approximately 12 inches wide by 12 inches long with a 4-inch bottom that expands. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-clever-ways-to-reuse-your-plastic-shopping-bags?ref=seealso" target="_blank">18 Clever Ways to Reuse Your Plastic Shopping Bags</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-already-own-that-can-be-turned-into-a-tote-bag">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-amazing-diy-lamps-you-want-in-your-house">9 Amazing DIY Lamps You Want in Your House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-surprising-uses-for-empty-beer-and-soda-cans">9 Surprising Uses for Empty Beer and Soda Cans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-128-creative-ways-to-upcycle-your-trash">Flashback Friday: 128 Creative Ways to Upcycle Your Trash</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-clever-ways-to-reuse-your-plastic-shopping-bags">18 Clever Ways to Reuse Your Plastic Shopping Bags</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-create-your-dream-backyard-on-a-budget">How to Create Your Dream Backyard on a Budget</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Home crafts DIY diy projects diy tote bag recycle tote bag tote bags upcycle Mon, 20 Mar 2017 10:30:21 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1911157 at http://www.wisebread.com Flashback Friday: 48 Ways to Master the Art of Decluttering in Time for Spring http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-48-ways-to-master-the-art-of-decluttering-in-time-for-spring <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/flashback-friday-48-ways-to-master-the-art-of-decluttering-in-time-for-spring" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_clutter_clothes_520127146.jpg" alt="Woman mastering the art of decluttering in time for spring" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>With spring about to be sprung, it's time to tidy up your life. A major aspect of that is clearing out the clutter. Because once clutter accumulates, you lose track of things, your stress increases, and it really just gets in your way. Who needs that? Here's how to maximize your full decluttering potential when it comes time to spring clean.</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/three_coffee_mugs_75581393_0.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-money-and-declutter-by-selling-these-5-unlikely-treasures?ref=seealso">Make Money and Declutter by Selling These 5 Unlikely Treasures</a> &mdash; There are certain items in your house right now that can bring in some extra cash. If you're not using it, why not make a little money instead, right? Clear the junk and fill your bank account.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-16-favorite-ways-to-get-rid-of-clutter?ref=seealso">My 16 Favorite Ways to Get Rid of Clutter</a> &mdash; A fantastic way to get ready to declutter is to hear another person's success story on the process. And nobody maximizes their space and earning potential quite like Max Wong. She can practically turn dust into diamonds and sell them to a major jeweler. She'll steer you right.</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/woman-clothes-rack-Dollarphotoclub_75282538.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-questions-to-ask-yourself-to-help-you-declutter?ref=seealso">8 Questions to Ask Yourself to Help You Declutter</a> &mdash; Your clutter is there for a reason. The items occupying all your free space might have sentimental value, or you might have a bit of FOMO at the thought of throwing something away. These self-reflective questions will help you understand why you need to declutter in the first place, and how to avoid it altogether in the future.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/turn-old-clothes-into-money-with-these-4-tools-and-apps?ref=seealso">Turn Old Clothes Into Money With These 4 Tools and Apps</a> &mdash; If I had a dollar every time I went into my closet and noticed a dress or shirt I never wear anymore, I'd be rich. Well, now I can put my money where my mouth is (and so can you!) by selling those unwanted pieces through these helpful apps and tools.</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/iStock-493440144.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-ways-to-keep-your-entire-life-clutter-free?ref=seealso">10 Smart Ways to Keep Your Entire Life Clutter-Free</a> &mdash; This method for decluttering is particularly brilliant, because it has you start out small. These tips also help you change the way you think about tangible things as soon as they come into your possession, and decide immediately whether or not you really need them.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-5-words-you-need-to-declutter-your-life?ref=seealso">The Only 5 Words You Need to Declutter Your Life</a> &mdash; Enter into Spring Cleaning season with this five-word mantra and you'll glide into summer as free as a bird. It's as easy as Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot. Yup, rot. Now get to work!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chrissa-hardy">Chrissa Hardy</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-48-ways-to-master-the-art-of-decluttering-in-time-for-spring">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-the-82-best-spring-cleaning-hacks-we-ve-ever-shared">Flashback Friday: The 82 Best Spring Cleaning Hacks We’ve Ever Shared</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-ways-to-keep-your-entire-life-clutter-free">10 Smart Ways to Keep Your Entire Life Clutter-Free</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-the-76-best-life-lessons-you-should-learn-by-30">Flashback Friday: The 76 Best Life Lessons You Should Learn by 30</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spring-clean-your-whole-life-one-step-at-a-time">How to Spring Clean Your Whole Life — One Step at a Time</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-122-no-fuss-dinner-ideas-thatll-save-you-money">Flashback Friday: 122 No-Fuss Dinner Ideas That&#039;ll Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Lifestyle clean declutter decluttering fbf flashback friday saving money sell your stuff spring cleaning Fri, 17 Mar 2017 10:30:24 +0000 Chrissa Hardy 1910936 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Signs You Aren't Prepared for an Emergency http://www.wisebread.com/8-signs-you-arent-prepared-for-an-emergency <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-signs-you-arent-prepared-for-an-emergency" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-487795974.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Everyone eventually faces an emergency, whether it's related to finances, health, the weather, or something else entirely. The more prepared we are, however, the easier it is to roll with the punches when life throws them our way. Are you ready? Here are eight signs you aren't prepared for an emergency. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-decide-if-its-a-fund-worthy-emergency?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Ways to Decide if It's a &quot;Fund-Worthy&quot; Emergency</a>)</p> <h2>1. You Haven't Saved a Single Cent</h2> <p>While emergencies come in various forms, many of us will face a financial crisis at some point &mdash; and it may be hard to keep your head above water when it strikes.</p> <p>Financial experts constantly preach the importance of an emergency fund. Yet some people don't take steps to ensure they have enough in reserves for unexpected surprises. If you have little to no money reserved for a financial emergency, you likely won't come out of it on top.</p> <p>Say you lose your job and primary source of income. Even if you're eligible for unemployment compensation, what you receive on a monthly basis may be significantly less than your regular salary. Your finances can also take a hit if a medical emergency triggers high monthly payments to a hospital or doctor's office. If you can't afford your health insurance deductible, which can run thousands of dollars, this can result in delaying needed medical treatment.</p> <p>Similarly, lack of a savings account causes problems when you deal with a car repair or a home repair. Some people rely on a credit card when they don't have money in the bank. This puts them in debt and makes it even harder to save over a long period of time.</p> <h2>2. You Don't Have an Emergency Kit</h2> <p>If you've never lived through a natural disaster (count your blessings), you may not worry much about one impacting your life. But anything is possible, and it's important to have emergency supplies on hand just in case. For instance, if you were to lose power after a major storm and couldn't stay at a relative or friend's house, it'll be difficult to prepare food, and the food in your refrigerator would begin to spoil as the temperature inside the fridge rises. Sometimes we don't realize how much we need electricity for meal preparation until we don't have it.</p> <p>Be prepared and always maintain a supply of nonperishable food and one gallon of water per person per day &mdash; for at least three days. Personally, I have about nine gallons of water stored in my basement for this purpose. Also consider purchasing a go bag &mdash; available at most outdoor or sporting goods stores &mdash; which is prepacked with essentials in the event of an emergency. Mine has food rations, survival and self-defense tools, first-aid materials, and more. You can add items to the bag as needed. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-emergency-kits?ref=seealaso" target="_blank">The 5 Best Emergency Kits</a>)</p> <h2>3. You Don't Have a Backup Generator</h2> <p>Power outages caused by wind and ice storms and other natural disasters can last for hours, or even days. When you don't have power, any appliance that requires electricity becomes useless, including your stove, fridge, deep freezer, and HVAC unit.</p> <p>To prepare for long-term outages, consider a permanent or portable emergency generator. These machines can restore power to your home in a jiff. Permanent generators sit outside the home and run on propane or natural gas, just like your outdoor grill. A portable generator &mdash; which is a cheaper alternative (and probably all you need if you're not in a frequent disaster zone) &mdash; can operate on gas or diesel fuel. You can store it in the garage, but you should never run the generator inside the home. Using a generator indoors can cause buildup of carbon monoxide, and that can kill you.</p> <h2>4. You Don't Know the Location of Important Documents</h2> <p>In the event of an emergency, you'll also need to grab important documents before you head out the door, and unfortunately, if you're unorganized and have your documents stored in different locations, it'll be difficult to quickly locate them in an emergency. Get organized and keep important paperwork clearly labeled in a fireproof locked cabinet, preferably inside a sealed plastic bag; both measures protect the paper from fire and water. Important documents include Social Security cards, passports, your homeowner's or renter's insurance policies, medical insurance cards, and the like.</p> <h2>5. You Don't Have Extra Insurances</h2> <p>If you have health insurance, auto insurance, homeowner's insurance, and life insurance, you probably think you've covered your bases. But these aren't the only insurances to think about. Life can go horribly wrong in a matter of seconds, so prepare for the &quot;what ifs&quot; with additional insurance and protect your assets.</p> <p>If you haven't already, compare costs for a short-term disability policy which pays a percentage of your salary if you become temporarily disabled and can't work. There are also legal insurance plans that provide affordable legal representation in the event that someone takes legal action against you. Even if you do not live in a flood zone, a flood insurance plan is worth consideration. This is because a standard homeowner's insurance policy does not cover flood damage. Also, most insurance policies have a hurricane deductible, which is higher than the policy's standard deductible for theft, fire, and other perils.</p> <p>If you have a hurricane deductible and your home is damaged by a hurricane, this deductible is a percentage of your home's assessed value, which can be as much as 5%. If a hurricane causes a tree to fall on your house, or if hurricane-force winds break your windows and rain water floods your property, you have to pay the hurricane deductible before your insurance company pays for any damage. On the other hand, if you purchase flood insurance, the policy covers flood and/or rain damage caused by the hurricane.</p> <h2>6. You Don't Keep a Stock of Batteries or Candles</h2> <p>Nowadays, cellphones do more than make and receive phone calls. You can use your phone's Internet to check the weather or news, and some smartphones even have a built-in flashlight. With so much technology in the palm of your hands, it's easy to downplay the importance of an old-fashioned flashlight, batteries, and candles during an emergency.</p> <p>However, no matter what type of phone you have, the battery will eventually die. And if you lose power and don't have a backup generator, you can't power your electronic devices. To make sure you're never stuck in the dark and cut off from the outside world, keep a supply of batteries and candles on hand.</p> <h2>7. You Don't Have Extra Gasoline for Your Car</h2> <p>When a natural disaster causes widespread power outages, gas stations without backup electricity will not have working pumps, which can trigger a local gas shortage. If you don't have fuel in your car, you can't drive or evacuate the area, if necessary. That, in itself, should be a top priority when you're expecting a major weather event. You must be able to evacuate if needed. Also, lack of gasoline means you can't power a portable generator.</p> <p>Ideally, you should fill up your car before disaster strikes. But of course, impending danger doesn't always come with a heads up. To prepare yourself, consider stockpiling several gallons of gasoline in an approved airtight container. Many containers can hold between five and 25 gallons. Store your gasoline supply in a cool location outside of your home, such as a shed or garage.</p> <h2>8. You Don't Have an Outdoor Grill</h2> <p>Regardless of whether you prefer cooking on the grill or stove, a charcoal or gas grill comes in handy during an emergency. If you can't use your stove due to lack of electricity, outdoor grilling lets you enjoy a hot meal until your utility company restores power. Grill veggies, hot dogs, hamburgers, and any other meat you have on ice in a cooler (because otherwise it's probably going to spoil if the power is out for too long). Plan ahead and make sure you have enough charcoal, lighter fluid, or gas to get you through at least a week without power.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-signs-you-arent-prepared-for-an-emergency">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-big-winter-expenses-that-could-freeze-your-budget">5 Big Winter Expenses That Could Freeze Your Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-the-50-rule-can-save-you-money">4 Ways the 50% Rule Can Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-anyone-can-go-solar-and-save-on-energy">10 Ways Anyone Can Go Solar and Save on Energy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-48-ways-to-master-the-art-of-decluttering-in-time-for-spring">Flashback Friday: 48 Ways to Master the Art of Decluttering in Time for Spring</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-ways-being-too-nice-is-hurting-your-wallet">18 Ways Being Too Nice Is Hurting Your Wallet</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Home disaster emergency fund emergency kit emergency preparedness insurance natural disaster saving money Thu, 16 Mar 2017 10:00:22 +0000 Mikey Rox 1909970 at http://www.wisebread.com The 5 Best Descalers http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-descalers <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-5-best-descalers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_coffee_maker_485462354.jpg" alt="Woman using best descaler on coffee maker" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Descalers are a must-have if you have hard water in your area. Limescale can accumulate in your machine&rsquo;s tubes, pumps, and inner workings over time. If you don&rsquo;t descale, your brewer won&rsquo;t work as well, so coffee takes longer to brew and it won&rsquo;t taste as good. Regularly descaling can help remove mineral buildup to return your machine to like-new conditions, thereby improving performance.</p> <p>A good descaler can make your machine work optimally again and can even extend the life of your machine, so you get a better value out of it. In most cases, you should use a descaler about once every three to six months to preserve your coffee maker.</p> <h2>What Are Descalers?</h2> <p>Descalers are chemical agents used to remove calcium deposits, limescale, and any other non-soluble sediments from any metal surfaces in contact with hot water. They release hydrogen ions when dissolved in water, which eat away at the scale and deposited minerals. They are commonly used to safely clean coffee and espresso machines, boilers, heat exchangers, water heaters, kettles, and septic tanks.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re looking for a permanent solution, you won&rsquo;t find better than the <a href="http://amzn.to/2ntHGQI" target="_blank">Eddy Water Descaler Electronic Water Softener</a>. However, if you want something more affordable that you can use once a season, consider the options below.</p> <h2>Top 5 Descalers</h2> <h3>Keurig Descaling Solution</h3> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2ntFloY" target="_blank"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/keurig%20descaler.jpg" width="74" height="245" align="right" alt="" /></a>If your Keurig indicates that it&rsquo;s time for a descaling, then you won&rsquo;t find better than the <a href="http://amzn.to/2ntFloY" target="_blank">Keurig Descaling Solution</a>, Amazon&rsquo;s #1 best-seller in coffee and espresso machine cleaning products. It quickly removes mineral buildup without leaving any odors behind. It is easy to use and can restore your Keurig brewer to like-new conditions. It can even help extend your brewer&rsquo;s life. This is the only Keurig approved solution, so you know it will work well in your brewer. It is backed by outstanding online reviews, including more than 700 five-star reviews on Amazon.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2ntFloY" target="_blank"><em>Currently $9.65 on Amazon</em></a></p> <h3>Durgol Swiss Espresso Descaler</h3> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2nc1mLE" target="_blank"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/durgol.jpg" width="207" height="220" align="right" alt="" /></a>The <a href="http://amzn.to/2nc1mLE" target="_blank">Durgol Swiss Espresso Descaler/Decalcifier</a> is safe for use on all brands of coffee or espresso machines. It cleans 99.99% of bacteria quickly and effectively to safely decalcify, descale, clean, and protect your machine. It can even help prevent corrosion and limescale buildup to promote proper flow. It won&rsquo;t leave any unpleasant odors, aftertaste, or residue behind. The food-safe, eco-friendly solution is powerful, but gentle on machines and won&rsquo;t damage components. It also works well on filter machines, electric water heaters, and tea kettles.</p> <p>This claims to work 10 times faster than other decalcification processes. It also claims to be the only descaler that removes 100% of limescale. You simply pour the solution into the water tank, so it couldn&rsquo;t be easier to use. Each bottle is the perfect amount for one use. It is backed by outstanding online reviews, including more than 500 five-star reviews on Amazon. If you need a universal solution, then the <a href="http://amzn.to/2m1QJeC" target="_blank">Durgol Universal Express Multipurpose Descaler/Decalcifier</a> works well on things like ceramic tiles, faucets, kettles, shower heads, and irons.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2nc1mLE" target="_blank"><em>Currently $15.95 on Amazon</em></a></p> <h3>Urnex Dezcal</h3> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2nbIzA4" target="_blank"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/dezcal.jpg" width="170" height="245" align="right" alt="" /></a>Amazon&rsquo;s Choice for descalers, the <a href="http://amzn.to/2nbIzA4" target="_blank">Urnex Dezcal Activated Scale Remover</a> is ideal for regular maintenance and can be used as often as once per month. It can safely clean, descale, and protect your coffee or espresso maker. It also offers fast, effective descaling of boilers, heating elements, faucets, and spray heads. The nontoxic, biodegradable powdered descaler helps remove stubborn hard water deposits, scale, and calcification so your items can work like new again. The five-pack has outstanding online reviews and many reviewers agreed that it works better than anything else they&rsquo;ve tried.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2nbIzA4" target="_blank"><em>Currently $8.31 on Amazon</em></a></p> <h3>De'Longhi EcoDeCalk Natural Descaler</h3> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2muCg7f" target="_blank"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/delonghi.jpg" width="212" height="245" align="right" alt="" /></a>The <a href="http://amzn.to/2muCg7f" target="_blank">De'Longhi EcoDeCalk Natural Descaler for Coffee Machines</a> works quickly to dissolve limescale deposits. The all-natural formula can help ensure your coffee machine works optimally. The company claims that laboratory tests prove that it&rsquo;s also up to three times more effective than traditional descalers. It is frequently recommended online for all types of coffee machines.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2muCg7f" target="_blank"><em>Currently $11.99 on Amazon</em></a></p> <h3>Saniflo Descaler</h3> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2m1Qlgm" target="_blank"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/saniflo.jpg" width="158" height="245" align="right" alt="" /></a>If you need a descaler for something larger, such as your toilet, then you won&rsquo;t find better than the <a href="http://amzn.to/2m1Qlgm" target="_blank">Saniflo 052 Descaler</a>. The 1.25-gallon jug of descaler cleans and disinfects without harming your septic tank. The ultra-concentrated phosphoric acid formula is specifically designed for use with Saniflo products. It is easy to use and will keep your pumps maintenance free. It can even help prolong unit life. This has outstanding reviews online and is frequently recommended for big jobs.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2m1Qlgm" target="_blank"><em>Currently $37.40 on Amazon</em></a></p> <p>And those are our recommendations for the best descalers. As always, be sure to check <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buying-calendar">Wise Bread's Buying Calendar</a> to learn when and how to buy just about anything!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-cannon">Andrea Cannon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-descalers">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-robotic-mops">The 5 Best Robotic Mops</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-cast-iron-skillets">The 5 Best Cast Iron Skillets</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-reusable-straws">The 5 Best Reusable Straws</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-bottle-brushes">The 5 Best Bottle Brushes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-pet-flea-shampoos">The 5 Best Pet Flea Shampoos</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Shopping 5 best cleaning appliances coffee descalers new appliances product reviews shopping Thu, 16 Mar 2017 10:00:16 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1910224 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Smart Ways to Keep Your Entire Life Clutter-Free http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-ways-to-keep-your-entire-life-clutter-free <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-smart-ways-to-keep-your-entire-life-clutter-free" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-493440144.jpg" alt="Learning how to keep your entire life clutter-free" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A preponderance of personal property is an almost universal problem for Americans who have easy access to both credit and cheap goods. Everywhere you turn, there are suggestions and advice on how to declutter, live simply, and embrace minimalism.</p> <p>Often the suggestions start with the idea that you need to be brutal when culling your possessions. If you're not the type to commune with your higher self in an empty room in a mountain cabin, such decluttering advice seems far too extreme. Even if you do hope to achieve Zen mastery of your minimalist home, the cull-it-all type of advice can be wildly optimistic for anyone who has things other than decluttering going on in their lives.</p> <p>That's why it's a good idea to follow the slow-and-steady path to declutter. Here are 10 ways you can declutter your home without actually having to commit acts of wanton purging. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-16-favorite-ways-to-get-rid-of-clutter?ref=seealso" target="_blank">My 16 Favorite Ways to Get Rid of Clutter</a>)</p> <h2>1. Stop Clutter at Its Source</h2> <p>Before your possessions became clutter, they were cute items on retail shelves that you couldn't resist bringing home with you. The easiest way to deal with clutter is to not create it. Commit to only buying items you truly need and learn how to say no to free stuff &mdash; whether it's swag from the company retreat or hand-me-downs that you know won't be used.</p> <h2>2. Get Rid of Things as You Notice Them</h2> <p>Many decluttering experts will give you what amounts to an assignment to declutter &mdash; either commit to getting rid of one item a day or declutter over a weekend. An easy way to divest yourself of things is to get rid of them as you notice them. It's very easy to look at the stack of cough medicine measuring cups in your bathroom drawer and think, <em>I'll get rid of those later.</em> But there is no time like the present. When you notice something that doesn't need to be in your house, get rid of it right away.</p> <h2>3. Keep a Donation Bag by the Door</h2> <p>Part of the reason why it can be so difficult to get rid of perfectly good items is the fact that you don't have enough to make the trip to Goodwill worthwhile. So get in the habit of leaving a bag for donations by the door, so that you can collect the items you plan to donate without allowing them to continue to clutter up your space.</p> <h2>4. Make a Donation Run a Regular Part of Your Errands</h2> <p>I am embarrassed to admit that I have been carrying three bags of clothes and other miscellany in the trunk of my car for over six months. I intend to donate the items to Goodwill, but I am out of the habit of making donations as part of my regular errands. When I regularly go to Goodwill or the Salvation Army on a weekly or twice-a-month basis, it is much easier to commit to decluttering.</p> <p>Find the local donation center for you, and plan on making a stop there every week or every other week on the same day you go grocery shopping. Make donating items a regular habit.</p> <h2>5. Place Items You're Not Sure About in a One-Year Box</h2> <p>This rule will allow you to determine just how often you use things you are afraid to give up. Set up this box in the basement or the garage, and as you clean, place items you don't use but don't want to get rid of into it. Once the box is full, seal it and date it for one year in the future. If you have not used the items in the box within that year, then donate or trash the box without opening it. It's likely you won't even recall its exact contents.</p> <h2>6. Ask Yourself Two Important Questions for Each Item You Find</h2> <p>Dana K. White, who blogs about her journey to cleanliness at <a href="http://www.aslobcomesclean.com/2010/02/my-two-decluttering-questions/" target="_blank">A Slob Comes Clean</a>, learned to ask herself two questions while she decluttered her home:</p> <ul> <ul> <li>If I needed this item, where would I look for it? That will prompt you to put item away in its new, sensible home.</li> </ul> </ul> <ul> <li>If I needed this item, would it <em>ever occur</em> to me that I already have one? If it wouldn't, then you can go ahead and get rid of the item because you'd just buy another one anyway when the need for it arises.</li> </ul> <p>Answering these questions will force you to make a decision about each item you find.</p> <h2>7. Redefine Waste</h2> <p>It can be difficult to part with items you don't need if you spent good money on them. You would hate to waste the hard-earned money you spent by donating or trashing a perfectly good item &mdash; so you plan to either start using it or sell it, neither of which happen.</p> <p>A simple attitude adjustment can help to make this conundrum much simpler. Remember that the money has been wasted already, and is therefore wasted whether or not you keep the item. So you might as well not also waste the space on the item in addition to the money. Why give up both your money <em>and </em>your clean home to something that was a waste?</p> <h2>8. Create a What-Would-You-Replace List</h2> <p>If you are paralyzed by the size of your decision to get rid of some things, try looking at your decluttering in reverse. Start by asking yourself, &quot;What items would I replace if I lost everything in a flood or fire?&quot; You can feel confident that anything you'd be willing to buy again is something worth keeping, whereas the things that you wouldn't replace can go.</p> <h2>9. Give Away Your Possessions as Gifts to People Who Will Appreciate Them</h2> <p>While getting rid of things can be psychologically difficult, giving gifts tends to feel great. So start thinking about decluttering as an opportunity to give your family and friends things they would love. For instance, as you look through your books or DVDs, pull out any that you think a friend or family member would enjoy. If you have a set of fancy china you don't use, give it to a friend who collects china or one who needs a set of dinnerware.</p> <p>To make sure you're not just shifting the clutter to another person, make sure you ask before you give the gifts to your friends and family &mdash; and be willing to take no for an answer.</p> <h2>10. Spend Small Amounts of Down Time Decluttering</h2> <p>You might think that you need an entire weekend, or at least an uninterrupted hour, to declutter your home. But you have more time than you think you do. Take the time while your burrito microwaves to look through the utensil drawer to see if there is anything you can throw away or put in the donation bag. The two minutes you would otherwise be watching your lunch rotate around could be time spent purging items you don't need. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/declutter-your-home-in-10-minutes?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Declutter Your Home in 10 Minutes a Day</a>)</p> <p>Similarly, instead of hitting the Skip Advertisement button on the YouTube video five seconds in, let the commercial play and you can take that time to find the dry pens and stubby pencils that are cluttering up your office drawer.</p> <p>Anytime you are forced to wait is time you could use to find something that no longer belongs in your home.</p> <h2>Decluttering Is a Path, Not a Destination</h2> <p>The thing to remember about finally achieving your decluttered home is you will need to commit to making decluttering a regular habit. Unfortunately, there is no point at which you are done &mdash; but that also means that small actions taken on a regular basis can make a huge difference.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-ways-to-keep-your-entire-life-clutter-free">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spring-clean-your-whole-life-one-step-at-a-time">How to Spring Clean Your Whole Life — One Step at a Time</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-48-ways-to-master-the-art-of-decluttering-in-time-for-spring">Flashback Friday: 48 Ways to Master the Art of Decluttering in Time for Spring</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-you-declutter-and-keep-your-stuff-too">This Is How You Declutter and Keep Your Stuff, Too</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-things-in-your-kitchen-you-should-throw-out-today">15 Things in Your Kitchen You Should Throw Out Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-the-82-best-spring-cleaning-hacks-we-ve-ever-shared">Flashback Friday: The 82 Best Spring Cleaning Hacks We’ve Ever Shared</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Organization cleaning tips clear the clutter clutter declutter decluttering organize your life spring cleaning Fri, 10 Mar 2017 10:30:32 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1905171 at http://www.wisebread.com The 5 Best Bottle Brushes http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-bottle-brushes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-5-best-bottle-brushes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/baby_bottle_brush_488440630.jpg" alt="Woman cleaning bottles with a brush" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Washing and sanitizing bottles can be a timely, frustrating chore. Fortunately, bottle brushes can make the chore faster and more efficient. They can be used to quickly clean baby bottles, water bottles, and other narrow drinking vessels. When you want to clean your baby products deep-down, a brush can clean from the bottle&rsquo;s nipple to the bottom of the bottle, and everything in between.</p> <h2>What Is a Bottle Brush?</h2> <p>A bottle brush is a versatile cleaning tool specially designed to clean bottles. Whether you&rsquo;re washing baby bottles or narrow water bottles, a bottle brush is the one tool that can clean all those hard-to-reach places that can house bacteria.</p> <h2>Top 5 Bottle Brushes</h2> <h3>Dr. Brown's Bottle Brush</h3> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2mgV0tT" target="_blank"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/dr%20browns.jpg" width="71" height="245" align="right" alt="" /></a>Amazon&rsquo;s #1 best-seller in baby bottle accessories, the <a href="http://amzn.to/2mgV0tT" target="_blank">Dr. Brown's Bottle Brush</a> offers a combination sponge and bristle brush head for thorough, easy cleaning of bottles. It has a grooved nonslip grip and chevron channels at the base designed for cleaning nipples. The BPA-free brush is dishwasher safe and has a convenient storage clip, which makes it easy to house the brush near the sink. This is Amazon&rsquo;s Choice for bottle brushes and has nearly 1,200 five-star reviews on Amazon.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2mgV0tT" target="_blank"><em>Currently $4.49 on Amazon</em></a></p> <h3>OXO Good Grips Bottle Brush</h3> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2lg19qO" target="_blank"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/oxo_3.jpg" width="58" height="245" align="right" alt="" /></a>Amazon&rsquo;s #1 best-seller in household cleaning brushes, the <a href="http://amzn.to/2lg19qO" target="_blank">OXO Good Grips Bottle Brush</a> is safe to use on any surface, including stainless steel and delicate glass objects. The durable brush features two types of bristles for a thorough clean: long, soft bristles for gentle cleaning and short, tough bristles for scrubbing. It has a soft, nonslip grip that absorbs pressure and reduces tension on the hands. The flexible neck and rounded head make it easy to reach inside of bottles. It is also dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.</p> <p>The OXO brand of bottle brushes is recommended by Parent Guide. This has outstanding online reviews, including more than 2,900 five-star reviews on Amazon. If you&rsquo;re not a fan of this brush, consider OXO&rsquo;s other best-selling bottle brushes, including the <a href="http://amzn.to/2lZ1nj6" target="_blank">OXO Tot Bottle Brush with Nipple Cleaner and Stand</a> and the <a href="http://amzn.to/2mh6rlt" target="_blank">OXO Good Grips Water Bottle Cleaning Set</a>.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2lg19qO" target="_blank"><em>Currently $4.99 on Amazon</em></a></p> <h3>Munchkin Sponge Bottle Brush</h3> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2lZ72G2" target="_blank"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/munchkin.jpg" width="110" height="245" align="right" alt="" /></a>The <a href="http://amzn.to/2lZ72G2" target="_blank">Munchkin Sponge Bottle Brush</a> has a sponge tip to help you get a thorough clean. It features durable, scratch-free nylon bristles and a nonslip handle. The brush base stands upright on your countertop, so it can air out and keep your brush clean and germ-free. The soft BPA-free bottle and nipple brush is also dishwasher safe. It comes from the best-selling Munchkin brand and has outstanding reviews online.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2lZ72G2" target="_blank"><em>Currently $2.40 on Amazon</em></a></p> <h3>Rubbermaid Comfort Grip Bottle Brush</h3> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2lCb6L9" target="_blank"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/rubbermaid.jpg" width="45" height="245" align="right" alt="" /></a>Amazon&rsquo;s #1 best-seller in commercial cleaning brushes, the <a href="http://amzn.to/2lCb6L9" target="_blank">Rubbermaid Comfort Grip Bottle Brush</a> features all-around synthetic flared bristles, designed for complete bottle cleaning. They offer excellent bristle bend recovery and break strength. The sturdy, durable plastic brush has a contoured, nonslip rubber grip. This is designed to last through continued daily use and has nearly 600 five-star reviews on Amazon.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2lCb6L9" target="_blank"><em>Currently $4.93 on Amazon</em></a></p> <h3>Philips AVENT BPA-Free Bottle Brush</h3> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2lBV587" target="_blank"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/philips_1.jpg" width="245" height="101" align="right" alt="" /></a>The <a href="http://amzn.to/2lBV587" target="_blank">Philips AVENT BPA-Free Bottle Brush</a> is a versatile bottle brush. The soft, durable, high-density bristles are designed for thorough cleaning of hard-to-reach places without scratching or damaging your items. The slim, sturdy brush features a curved brush head for the rounded edges of baby bottles and a molded handle-tip for nipples. The BPA-free bottle and nipple brush is dishwasher safe, hangs for easy drying and storage, and is designed to last through continued use. It is recommended by BabyGearLab and has more than 500 five-star reviews on Amazon.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2lBV587" target="_blank"><em>Currently $3.60 on Amazon</em></a></p> <p>And those are our recommendations for the best bottle brushes. As always, be sure to check <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buying-calendar" target="_blank">Wise Bread's Buying Calendar</a> to learn when and how to buy just about anything!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-cannon">Andrea Cannon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-bottle-brushes">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-thermoses">The 5 Best Thermoses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-reusable-straws">The 5 Best Reusable Straws</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-aluminum-and-stainless-steel-water-bottles">The 5 Best Aluminum and Stainless Steel Water Bottles</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-food-steamers">The 5 Best Food Steamers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-digital-food-scales">The 5 Best Digital Food Scales</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Home Shopping 5 best bottle brush bottle brushes bottles product reviews shopping Thu, 02 Mar 2017 10:00:17 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1901566 at http://www.wisebread.com The 5 Best Reusable Straws http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-reusable-straws <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-5-best-reusable-straws" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_pool_drink_586169468.jpg" alt="Woman using best reusable straws" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most people associate reusable straws with saving money. After all, wouldn't it be nice to keep using the same straws and stop wasting money throwing them away after each use? What many people don't realize is that using reusable straws can actually be healthier as well, especially when you use them with hot drinks.</p> <p>Many people (myself included) use straws for everything, including coffee, because it can help prevent teeth stains and cavities, make cold drinks more enjoyable, and can even help you feel an alcohol buzz faster. However, coffee and other hot drinks can break down disposable plastic straws and lead to health issues.</p> <p>Plastic disposable straws contain dangerous chemicals in the straw coloring, as well as BPA, which has been linked to a range of diseases. They are also not biodegradable, so they can leach toxic chemicals into the earth.</p> <h2>What Is a Reusable Straw?</h2> <p>Reusable straws come in all colors and various materials, such as glass, stainless steel, and silicone. They can be cleaned and used again and again, saving you money.</p> <p>Did you know that Americans use over 500 million plastic straws per day? That's a huge number of wasted plastic items on our beaches. By switching to a reusable straw, you can help keep about <a href="http://www.ecocycle.org/bestrawfree/faqs" target="_blank">38,000 disposable straws</a> out of the environment and help reduce pollution.</p> <h2>Top 5 Reusable Straws</h2> <h3>SipWell Stainless Steel Drinking Straws</h3> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2lUAgWu" target="_blank"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/sipwell.jpg" width="218" height="245" align="right" alt="" /></a>The <a href="http://amzn.to/2lUAgWu" target="_blank">SipWell Stainless Steel Drinking Straws</a> are stain-free, rustproof, and scratch-proof. The set of four high-end straws is made of durable stainless steel, so there's no metallic aftertaste. The high-quality shiny straws are sturdy enough to last for years of continued daily use. They are dishwasher-safe and include a free flexible cleaning brush. They are an Amazon best-seller and have more than 2,000 five-star reviews on Amazon.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2lUAgWu" target="_blank"><em>Currently $6.88 on Amazon</em></a></p> <h3>Bubba Big Straw Reusable Straws</h3> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2lUGp53" target="_blank"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/bubba.jpg" width="69" height="245" align="right" alt="" /></a>The <a href="http://amzn.to/2lUGp53" target="_blank">Bubba Big Straw</a> five-pack of reusable straws are made for the Bubba Envy line of products, but can be used with any cups, mugs, or tumblers. They can be used for any hot or cold drinks, including shakes and smoothies. The thick, flexible, BPA-free straws are sturdy enough for the dishwasher, but should not be placed in the microwave. The food-grade silicone straws come in assorted bold colors. They are an Amazon best-seller and have great reviews online.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2lUGp53" target="_blank"><em>Currently $6.50 on Amazon</em></a></p> <h3>Hummingbird Glass Straws</h3> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2mr8vaS" target="_blank"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/hummingbird%20glass.jpg" width="138" height="245" align="right" alt="" /></a>The <a href="http://amzn.to/2mr8vaS" target="_blank">Hummingbird Glass Straws</a> can be used for both hot and cold drinks, including smoothies. The clear lead-free glass is nontoxic and has no harmful chemicals. The durable straws are shatterproof and resist breaking, so they're very durable. Both ends are smooth and round, so the straw is safe and comfortable to use. The pack of four bent straws includes a cleaning brush and they are also dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. They have more than 1,500 five-star reviews on Amazon and are backed by a money-back satisfaction guarantee.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2mr8vaS" target="_blank"><em>Currently $16.99 on Amazon</em></a></p> <h3>Rainbow Colored Replacement Acrylic Straws</h3> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2l9VMt2" target="_blank"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/rainbow%20straws.jpg" width="200" height="200" align="right" alt="" /></a>If you prefer acrylic straws in your tumbler, then you won't find better than the <a href="http://amzn.to/2l9VMt2" target="_blank">Rainbow Colored Replacement Acrylic Straws</a>. They work best for cold drinks, but aren't wide enough for smoothies. The BPA-free acrylic straws can crack if they are dropped, so they may not last over a long period of time. They include a cleaning brush and are dishwasher safe. The straws come in eight different rainbow colors. They are an Amazon best-seller and have nearly 800 five-star reviews on Amazon.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2l9VMt2" target="_blank"><em>Currently $7.99 on Amazon</em></a></p> <h3>Reusable Straws for Smoothies and Shakes by GreenPaxx</h3> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2mbhsEK" target="_blank"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/greenpaxx.jpg" width="165" height="245" align="right" alt="" /></a>These <a href="http://amzn.to/2mbhsEK" target="_blank">Reusable Straws by GreenPaxx</a> are truly unique. The reusable silicone straws come with two interlocking pieces, so you can add an extra curved part to the bottom of the straight part to elongate your straws for taller cups. They are wide and won't conduct heat or cold, so they are ideal for any drinks, including smoothies and shakes. The soft, safe, food grade silicone surface is bendable, and won't damage teeth, so they are also ideal for children and straw biters. The pack of four straws are easy to clean, dishwasher safe, and can be occasionally boiled for sterilization. They are toxin-free and have no BPA, no BPS, no phthalates, no lead, no PVC, and no unknown heavy metals.</p> <p>They are available in a range of color options. They have nearly 1,300 five-star reviews on Amazon and are backed by a 100% money-back guarantee. Best of all, for each box sold, GreenPaxx donates a portion of profits to the Plastic Pollution Coalition.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2mbhsEK" target="_blank"><em>Currently $10.95 on Amazon</em></a></p> <p>And those are our recommendations for the best reusable straws. As always, be sure to check <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buying-calendar" target="_blank">Wise Bread's Buying Calendar</a> to learn when and how to buy just about anything!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-cannon">Andrea Cannon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-reusable-straws">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-aluminum-and-stainless-steel-water-bottles">The 5 Best Aluminum and Stainless Steel Water Bottles</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-thermoses">The 5 Best Thermoses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-bottle-brushes">The 5 Best Bottle Brushes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-digital-food-scales">The 5 Best Digital Food Scales</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-food-steamers">The 5 Best Food Steamers</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Home Shopping 5 best drinking straws product reviews reusable straws shopping straws Wed, 01 Mar 2017 10:00:12 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1900959 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Spring Clean Your Whole Life — One Step at a Time http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spring-clean-your-whole-life-one-step-at-a-time <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-spring-clean-your-whole-life-one-step-at-a-time" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-524177336.jpg" alt="Woman learning how to spring clean her whole life" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>'Tis the season for cleaning and organization. We've spent the winter hibernating and surrounded by all of our material things that have provided us comfort. But once spring has sprung, we'll want our spaces to be more open, a lot cleaner, and we'll want to pack away all the cold weather garb we've been clinging to the last few months.</p> <p>The concept of spring cleaning doesn't need to be limited to the literal cleaning of our homes, though. We could all use a bit more organization and decluttering in <em>every </em>aspect of our lives. The coming of spring signifies a fresh start, so why not take some time now to cut out all the things you don't need and simplify your life?</p> <p>Here are some ideas to help get you started.</p> <h2>1. Cut Down on Your Time Commitments</h2> <p>If you are finding yourself completely booked all the time, you may want to learn the art of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-say-no-to-friends-and-family?ref=internal" target="_blank">saying &quot;no.&quot;</a>&nbsp;In my own life, I have worked hard at fighting my people-pleasing ways. Saying no the first time is hard, but it gets easier the more you do it. You can always say yes to something that really motivates or inspires you. Otherwise, try to focus on the most important things in your life and let go of the stress over over-commitment.</p> <h2>2. Minimize Your Routine</h2> <p>If getting ready in the morning takes up a chunk of your time, you may want to consider ways to simplify. If deciding what to wear is using up precious time, try following a more minimalistic clothing approach. I like&nbsp;<a href="http://bemorewithless.com/project-333/" target="_blank">Project 333</a>, where you choose 33 or fewer clothing items and wear only those items for three months. If it's your hair or makeup routine that's eating into your morning, consider getting a more manageable cut that's wash-and-go versus needing a full blowout. Toss old makeup and keep only the basics (and try going sans makeup from time to time). (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-build-a-downsized-wardrobe-you-love?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Build a Downsized Wardrobe You Love</a>)</p> <h2>3. Drill Down Your Career Goals</h2> <p>Determining career goals can be tricky &mdash; especially if you are highly motivated. But the key is to be specific. Don't try to take on too much at one time. For example, you may want to find a new job, get a raise, and network more. Too many goals may lead you to over-scheduling and generally feeling overwhelmed, thus spinning your wheels.</p> <p>Choosing just one goal to go after &mdash; even if your goals are seemingly related &mdash; may bring you the most success. When opportunities do arise, ask yourself first if they are activities that align with your primary career goal. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-say-no-at-work-and-still-get-ahead?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Say No at Work and Still Get Ahead</a>)</p> <h2>4. Find Fun in Fitness</h2> <p>Figure out a fitness schedule and stick with it. If you've been paying for a gym membership but you never go, ask yourself why. Do you need a buddy to go with you? Does it get too crowded during the time of day you like to go? Or on the flip side, do you lack motivation to workout at home with free options? Then you might need to bite the bullet and sign up for a studio class. Find the hurdle and remove it. Exercising more helps you manage stress and feel better. It's an essential part of staying healthy. Don't neglect this. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-at-home-exercises-will-give-you-a-gym-quality-workout-for-free?ref=seealso" target="_blank">These At-Home Exercises Will Give You a Gym-Quality Workout For Free</a>)</p> <h2>5. Be Conscious About Food</h2> <p>Sometimes eating lots of processed foods and takeout can make you feel clogged up both physically and mentally. You may want to eat a healthy diet but don't know where to start. Here's a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/whole-story/take-28-day-challenge" target="_blank">28-day challenge</a> that can get you off on the right foot.</p> <p>Focus on the pillars of healthy eating:</p> <ul> <li>Eat whole foods;</li> <li>Eat the colors of the rainbow;</li> <li>Enjoy foods packed with micronutrients;</li> <li>Get your fats from plant sources.</li> </ul> <p>Also, try shopping the perimeter of grocery stores versus the middle aisles where most processed foods are shelved.</p> <h2>6. Be Selective of Your Social Circle</h2> <p>Surround yourself with only the people who bring the best out of you. If someone is constantly bringing their negative energy into your life and there's no way to change that, cut them off.</p> <h2>7. Limit Your Social Media Time</h2> <p>Facebook can be a great place to build your network or reconnect with old friends. But if you're finding yourself at midnight, deeply angered at the political rantings of a classmate you had back in third grade, it may be time to step away for a while. I share this from personal experience.</p> <h2>8. Cut Back on Screen Time</h2> <p>Most Americans watch shows and movies around&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/30/health/americans-screen-time-nielsen/" target="_blank">four and a half hours per day</a>. That's a lot of time that you could spend working toward your goals. Whenever you think about all the things you wished you had more time for, think about what shows you can cut that will still allow you some down time or entertainment but also get you off the couch doing something productive.</p> <h2>9. Demolish Your Debt</h2> <p>Bills are the area of focus in my household right now. My husband and I have grown tired of all the loan payments for cars, college debt, and home improvements. We have sent checks for years without thinking much about the interest. We've decided we're going to try the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-debt-snowball-method-0" target="_blank">snowball method</a> to pay off our debt ASAP. It's never a bad time to look at your finances and make your&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-stop-waiting-for-tomorrow?ref=internal" target="_blank">get-out-of-debt plan</a>.</p> <h2>10. Clear the Clutter</h2> <p>Speaking of freeing up the budget, you may want to have an internal conversation with yourself about your attachment to stuff. One way to spring clean your life is to actually do a little spring cleaning.</p> <p>I most enjoy the&nbsp;<a href="http://amzn.to/2lEdamU" target="_blank">KonMari method</a>, where you physically touch each item in your home and see if it brings you joy. If not, you can toss or donate or give to a friend. Skeptical? Many people who have gone through this process have found it to be transformative. Things can really weigh down your mind (and your wallet, for that matter). (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-this-one-thing-a-day-to-defeat-clutter-forever?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Do This One Thing a Day to Defeat Clutter Forever</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spring-clean-your-whole-life-one-step-at-a-time">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-ways-to-keep-your-entire-life-clutter-free">10 Smart Ways to Keep Your Entire Life Clutter-Free</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-the-82-best-spring-cleaning-hacks-we-ve-ever-shared">Flashback Friday: The 82 Best Spring Cleaning Hacks We’ve Ever Shared</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-48-ways-to-master-the-art-of-decluttering-in-time-for-spring">Flashback Friday: 48 Ways to Master the Art of Decluttering in Time for Spring</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-things-to-throw-out-today">25 Things to Throw Out Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-you-declutter-and-keep-your-stuff-too">This Is How You Declutter and Keep Your Stuff, Too</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Organization cleaning house declutter organize your life spring spring clean spring cleaning Tue, 28 Feb 2017 11:00:13 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1900126 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Credit Cards to Use For a Home Renovation http://www.wisebread.com/best-credit-cards-to-use-for-a-home-renovation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-credit-cards-to-use-for-a-home-renovation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-187664433.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Millions of Americans enjoy repairing and maintaining their homes in their spare time. Many do it to save money on necessary repairs or to increase the value of their properties. And some just find the work itself to be rewarding.</p> <p>When it comes time to invest in your own home renovation, you'll want to use the right tools and materials for the job, including the right credit card. The best credit cards for a home renovation can offer you rewards for your purchases, promotional financing options, and perhaps both.</p> <p>Here are the best credit cards to use for a home renovation.</p> <h2>1. Lowe's Consumer Credit Card</h2> <p>Lowe's is one of the largest home improvement stores, and while this card&rsquo;s standard APR is a high 26.99%, it offers attractive rewards and promotional financing options. When you use this card, you can receive one of the following three benefits:</p> <ul> <li>5% off all purchases, OR</li> <li>Six months of deferred-interest financing on purchases of $299 or more. Interest is waived if you pay off the entire amount within six months of purchase, OR</li> <li>Project financing on purchases of $2,000 or more, for 36, 60 or 84 months, with rates of 3.99%, 5.99%, and 7.99% respectively (cannot be used at Lowes.com). Fixed monthly payments are required.</li> </ul> <p>If you&rsquo;ve got a big project that you can pay off within seven years or less, the card is a pretty good deal. It carries no annual fee, but it is not part of a larger payment network so you can only use it at Lowe&rsquo;s.</p> <h2>2. The Home Depot Consumer Credit Card</h2> <p>If you prefer The Home Depot to Lowe&rsquo;s, this card might make sense for you, though you won&rsquo;t be able to get the long-term financing the Lowe&rsquo;s card offers. For shorter-term financing on home repairs and improvements, the Home Depot card has similar terms to the Lowe&rsquo;s card: six months of deferred interest financing on purchases of $299 or more. If you don&rsquo;t pay off the purchases within six months, you&rsquo;ll be responsible for interest charges going back to the date of purchase. The standard APR is 17.99% &ndash; 26.99%.</p> <p>If you need more than six months to pay off a purchase, you may be better off waiting for promotions that occur throughout the year offering special financing for up to 24 months.</p> <p>One bonus of the card is that it gives you one year for returns, which is four times longer than the standard return policy allows. There is no annual fee, and this card can only be used for purchases in stores and online.</p> <p>For even longer term financing, you can apply for the Home Depot Project Loan card, which gives you 84 months to pay off your purchase with fixed monthly payments at a 7.99% fixed APR.</p> <h2>3. Chase Freedom Unlimited℠</h2> <p><img width="154" border="0" height="97" style="float:right;margin:0 5px 5px 10px;" class="img-exempt" alt="" src="http://www.imgsynergy.com/191x120/chase-freedom-unlimited-072116.png" /><a style="border:none;float:right;clear:right;margin: 0 5px 5px 10px;" target=" rel=" href="http://ct.wisebread.com/click.php?pg=258&amp;pid=130&amp;pp=3&amp;uv=xcardbutton"><img alt="" class="img-exempt img-button" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/apply-now.png" /></a>The <a href="http://ct.wisebread.com/click.php?pg=258&amp;pid=130&amp;pp=3&amp;uv=xname">Chase Freedom Unlimited℠</a> offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases, plus some additional features that can be useful for those embarking on a major home renovation project. First, you&rsquo;ll get a $150 bonus when you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months of account opening. Also, new accounts receive 15 months of interest-free financing on both new purchases and balance transfers, with a 5% balance transfer fee.</p> <p><strong><a href="http://ct.wisebread.com/click.php?pg=258&amp;pid=130&amp;pp=3&amp;uv=xend">Click here to learn more and apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ card today!</a></strong></p> <h2>4.&nbsp;Citi&reg; Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer</h2> <p><img width="154" border="0" height="97" style="float:right;margin:0 5px 5px 10px;" class="img-exempt" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/CitiDoubleCash.jpg" /><a style="border:none;float:right;clear:right;margin: 0 5px 5px 10px;" target=" rel=" href="http://ct.wisebread.com/click.php?pg=258&amp;pid=47&amp;pp=4&amp;uv=xcardbutton"><img alt="" class="img-exempt img-button" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/apply-now.png" /></a><a href="http://ct.wisebread.com/click.php?pg=258&amp;pid=47&amp;pp=4&amp;uv=xname">Citi&reg; Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer</a> from our partner Citi, offers a simple way of earning cash back on your home renovation. It features 1% cash back when you make a purchase, plus another 1% cash back when the purchase is paid. It also offers an intro 0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers made from the date of first transfer when transfers are completed within four months of account opening&nbsp;(with a 3% balance transfer fee). There's no annual fee for this card.</p> <p><strong><a href="http://ct.wisebread.com/click.php?pg=258&amp;pid=47&amp;pp=4&amp;uv=xend">Click here to learn more and apply for the&nbsp;Citi&reg; Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer today!</a></strong></p> <h2>5. Starwood Preferred Guest&reg; Credit Card from American Express</h2> <p><img width="154" border="0" height="97" style="float:right;margin:0 5px 5px 10px;" class="img-exempt" alt="" src="http://www.imgsynergy.com/191x120/starwood-preferred-guest-consumer-081115.png" /><a style="border:none;float:right;clear:right;margin: 0 5px 5px 10px;" target="_blank" title="Starwood Preferred Guest&reg; Credit Card from American Express" alt="Starwood Preferred Guest&reg; Credit Card from American Express" rel="nofollow" href="http://ct.wisebread.com/click.php?pg=258&amp;pid=14&amp;pp=5&amp;uv=xcardbutton"><img alt="" class="img-exempt img-button" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/apply-now.png" /></a>If you want to use your home renovation expenses to rack up some travel points to get a nice trip out of the project, the <a href="http://ct.wisebread.com/click.php?pg=258&amp;pid=14&amp;pp=5&amp;uv=xname">Starwood Preferred Guest&reg; Credit Cardfrom American Express</a>&nbsp;is one of the most popular cards for points junkies. It allows points transfers to over 30 different airlines (and you&rsquo;ll get 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 miles you transfer), or you can use the points for stays at Starwood properties. You can earn four points per dollar spent at Starwood or Marriott Rewards hotels and one point per dollar spent on other purchases. New cardholders can earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints if you spend $3,000 with your card within the frist 3 months of card membership. For a limited time, you can earn an extra 10,000 points when you spend and additional $2,000 within the first 6 months. (Offer ends 4/5.)&nbsp;Terms apply. The annual fee of $95 is waived the first year</p> <p><strong><a href="http://ct.wisebread.com/click.php?pg=258&amp;pid=14&amp;pp=5&amp;uv=xend">Click here to learn more and apply for the&nbsp;Starwood Preferred Guest&reg; Credit Card from American Express today!</a></strong></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jason-steele">Jason Steele</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-credit-cards-to-use-for-a-home-renovation">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-secured-credit-cards">The Best Secured Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">The Best 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards">The Best Travel Reward Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards">The Best Cash Back Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-dining-out">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Dining Out</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards Home best credit cards home renovation remodeling Mon, 27 Feb 2017 10:30:45 +0000 Jason Steele 1898662 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Big Winter Expenses That Could Freeze Your Budget http://www.wisebread.com/5-big-winter-expenses-that-could-freeze-your-budget <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-big-winter-expenses-that-could-freeze-your-budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-502733146.jpg" alt="Woman freezing near her heater" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You never know what might happen when the snow starts to fall. Everyone should have a three- to six-month emergency fund for unexpected expenses, like when four feet of snow caves your roof in &mdash; God forbid, of course. While you can't control life's curveballs, you can prepare and perhaps <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-these-5-hidden-costs-of-winter?ref=internal" target="_blank">avoid big winter expenses</a>. Here's how.</p> <h2>1. Broken Heating System</h2> <p>Cranking up the heat helps maintain a comfortable temperature in the home, but extreme cold can push a heating system to the max, causing it to quit on you at the worst time.</p> <p>A basic service call to diagnose a problem can cost upward of $100 &mdash; mine was $95 earlier this winter when my system wasn't working &mdash; and this doesn't include the cost to fix any broken components. (Luckily mine didn't require anything out of the ordinary. I got away with just the $95.) If your system is older and needs replacing, however, you'll have to shell out thousands of dollars for a new one.</p> <p>There's no way to predict when a heating system will break, but getting a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-get-the-most-out-of-a-home-warranty?ref=internal" target="_blank">home warranty</a> can help you deal with this unexpected cost. These plans &mdash; which cost about $400 to $500 a year &mdash; are like an insurance plan for your home's major systems. If your appliances &mdash; water heater, plumbing, electrical, heating, and AC system &mdash; need a repair, give your warranty company a call and they'll send a technician within their network to fix the problem. You just pay a flat $50 to $75 out-of-pocket service fee. If the technician can't fix the heating system, your warranty company pays the replacement cost.</p> <p>There are limitations, so make sure you understand how your plan works. For example, your warranty company may only replace the unit if you can show a record of annual tuneups. As such, it's important to stay on top of things so you don't restrict yourself when it comes time to take advantage of the warranty.</p> <h2>2. High Gas Bills</h2> <p>Maintaining a warm, cozy home in the winter often requires turning up the heat. But while this keeps your home nice and toasty, high gas bills can wreak havoc on your budget. Fortunately, there are ways to stay warm without draining your bank account.</p> <p>Use space heaters in rooms where you spend the majority of your time. These smaller appliances use less energy and you'll save money compared to setting your thermostat at a higher temperature. Another option is a programmable thermostat, which lets you keep your thermostat at a lower temperature during the day when nobody is home. Mine also has a mobile app that allows me to turn the heat on and off and adjust the temperature from my phone; very convenient if I've forgotten to turn off the heat after I leave the house.</p> <p>Additionally, call your gas company to see if you're eligible for a budget plan. If so, the utility company looks at your average gas bill over a six- or 12-month period, and based on what you've paid in the past, the company comes up with a flat monthly payment. This makes it easier to budget. You know what you'll pay from month-to-month and there are no surprises.</p> <h2>3. Get a Winter Auto Tuneup</h2> <p>Cold temperatures can damage your car and result in costly automotive repairs in the winter. Battery problems, starter issues, and leaks are common problems. To minimize winter car troubles, schedule a winter tuneup or inspection before you face any of these issues. Your mechanic may recommend replacing a battery that's more than four years old, replacing worn tires, as well as repairing any maintenance issue that could be made worse by consistently cold weather, resulting in an even bigger repair bill.</p> <h2>4. Burst Pipes</h2> <p>Cold temperatures also can cause frozen pipes, which can burst resulting in an expensive plumbing bill. The good news is that most homeowner insurance policies cover the cost to repair damaged pipes. But even if you're covered, you'll still need to cover the cost of your deductible, which can be $500 to $1000.</p> <p>Obviously, it is better to avoid a burst pipe in the first place. To do this, drip your faucets during extreme cold weather. A slight drip keeps fluid moving through your pipes and helps prevent freezing. Also, insulate pipes in unheated areas and keep the temperature in your home at a reasonable temp to ensure your pipes stay warm. You also may be able to turn some of them off completely, like outdoor lines, which I do for spigots and my outdoor shower.</p> <h2>5. Leaky Roof</h2> <p>Snowy weather is an opportunity to enjoy outdoor winter activities with your family, but heavy precipitation can cause big problems if left on your roof for too long. The weight of heavy snow and ice increases the likelihood of your roof caving in. Plus, melting snow and ice can reveal hidden roof problems and cause a water leak in your home. Your homeowner's insurance policy may cover the cost of a roof caving in, but you're on your own if snow causes a major leak. Have your roof inspected and replace it if necessary. If you can't afford to replace the entire roof, patch worn areas, and <em>carefully</em> shovel snow off your roof to avoid damage.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-big-winter-expenses-that-could-freeze-your-budget">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-signs-you-arent-prepared-for-an-emergency">8 Signs You Aren&#039;t Prepared for an Emergency</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-100s-next-month-with-these-10-grocery-shopping-tips">Save $100s Next Month With These 10 Grocery Shopping Tips</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-48-ways-to-master-the-art-of-decluttering-in-time-for-spring">Flashback Friday: 48 Ways to Master the Art of Decluttering in Time for Spring</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-budgeting-skills-everyone-should-master">11 Budgeting Skills Everyone Should Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-apps-for-busy-working-parents">The 5 Best Apps for Busy Working Parents</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Home broken heater burst pipes gas bill heating expenses saving money seasonal bills winter budget winter expenses Thu, 23 Feb 2017 11:00:13 +0000 Mikey Rox 1897584 at http://www.wisebread.com The 5 Best Cloth Napkins http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-cloth-napkins <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-5-best-cloth-napkins" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/table_setting_napkin_511726460.jpg" alt="Using the five best cloth napkins" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Everyone needs napkins, which can be costly, but there&rsquo;s a way that you can save money on this daily necessity. How? With reusable cloth napkins. By washing and reusing your cloth napkins, you can save a significant amount of money over time (compared to buying disposable paper napkins).</p> <h2>What Are Cloth Napkins?</h2> <p>Reusable cloth napkins are used to clean up messes or wipe your hands and face while eating. They are usually made of cotton, polyester, or a blend of the two, and come in all different colors and designs to suit your style or the occasion. They can be reused and washed many times to help reduce waste.</p> <p>They are ideal for holidays, weddings, dinner parties, and other special occasions where paper napkins just won&rsquo;t cut it. They are also great for everyday use in restaurants, hotels, and the home. You can choose quality cloth napkins in a color that complements your tableware, or a color that stands apart for a decorative touch.</p> <h2>Top 5 Cloth Napkins</h2> <h3>Cotton Dinner Napkins by Utopia Kitchen</h3> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2m5NGlh"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/utopia_0.jpg" width="200" height="199" align="right" alt="" /></a>Amazon&rsquo;s #1 best-seller in cloth napkins, the 12-pack of 18x18 <a href="http://amzn.to/2m5NGlh" target="_blank">Cotton Dinner Napkins by Utopia Kitchen</a> are wrinkle-resistant, fade-resistant, and stain-resistant. The luxury premium cloth napkins are of durable, hotel quality. They have a generous hem and are made of 65% cotton, 35% polyester blended fabric for optimal softness and longevity. They are available in a range of colors and can be folded into a variety of styles to suit your table decor. They are one of the &ldquo;most wished for&rdquo; items on Amazon and have more than 800 five-star reviews on Amazon.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2m5NGlh" target="_blank"><em>Currently $13.99 on Amazon</em></a></p> <h3>Cotton Craft Dinner Napkins</h3> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2lJP4te"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/cotton%20craft.jpg" width="245" height="195" align="right" alt="" /></a>Amazon&rsquo;s Choice for cloth napkins, the <a href="http://amzn.to/2lJP4te" target="_blank">Pure 100% Cotton 20x20 Oversized Cotton Craft</a> dinner napkins come in a multicolor 12-pack. The set contains one each of Magenta, Lime, Ming Red, Stone, Black, Lavender, Grape, Orange, Teal, Navy, Mustard, and Leaf. The vibrant colors can light up your table decor. The napkins are sturdy, long lasting, and 38% larger than standard napkins. They are made of a thin, soft fabric and tailored with Mitered corners and a generous hem for a superior finish. They are an Amazon best-seller and have nearly 300 five-star reviews on Amazon.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2lJP4te" target="_blank"><em>Currently $15.99 on Amazon</em></a></p> <h3>Royal Classic Kitchen Cotton Towels</h3> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2m5VcwD"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/royal.jpg" width="220" height="188" align="right" alt="" /></a>The 15-pack of 14x25 <a href="http://amzn.to/2m5VcwD" target="_blank">Royal Classic kitchen cotton towels</a> are white with a blue stripe and feature a Herringbone weave for better absorbency. The lightweight 100% natural cotton towels are soft and strong, so they can be used as durable, long-lasting napkins or as small towels around the kitchen. The high-quality napkins absorb fluids and dry quickly for less risk of mildew and bacterial buildup. They are lint-free and streak-free. These are chosen by professional chefs and home cooks alike. They are an Amazon best-seller and have more than 500 five-star reviews on Amazon. They are also backed by a 30-day, 100% satisfaction money-back guarantee.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2m5VcwD" target="_blank"><em>Currently $13.95 on Amazon</em></a></p> <h3>DII Oversized Basic Everyday Napkin</h3> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2lE2Mxd"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/dii.jpg" width="200" height="200" align="right" alt="" /></a>The set of six 20x20 <a href="http://amzn.to/2lE2Mxd" target="_blank">DII 100% Cotton, Oversized Basic Everyday Napkins</a> are soft, high quality, and designed to last. They are thick and sturdy, so they can stand up to repeated washings. They are available in a range of colors to suit your kitchen table. They have great reviews and come from the trusted Design Imports brand.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2lE2Mxd" target="_blank"><em>Currently $16.14 on Amazon</em></a></p> <h3>The Pioneer Woman Flea Market Napkin Set</h3> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2m5MBtI"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/pioneer%20woman.jpg" width="97" height="245" align="right" alt="" /></a>The eight-pack of 18x18 <a href="http://amzn.to/2m5MBtI" target="_blank">Pioneer Woman Flea Market Napkin Set</a> offers a range of fun floral and geometric designs in various shades of red. They are high quality and designed to last. The soft, thin fabric is made of 52% polyester and 48% cotton. They are vintage-inspired and feature vibrant colors, so they can complement your kitchen decor or stand out on their own. They are available in different combinations of colors and designs to suit your personal style. They are backed by outstanding reviews and come from the trusted Pioneer Woman brand.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2m5MBtI" target="_blank"><em>Currently $17.00 on Amazon</em></a></p> <p>And those are our recommendations for the best cloth napkins. As always, be sure to check <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buying-calendar">Wise Bread's Buying Calendar</a> to learn when and how to buy just about anything!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-cannon">Andrea Cannon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-cloth-napkins">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-paper-napkins">The 5 Best Paper Napkins</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-descalers">The 5 Best Descalers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-pet-flea-shampoos">The 5 Best Pet Flea Shampoos</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-robotic-mops">The 5 Best Robotic Mops</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-in-home-dry-cleaning-kits">The 5 Best In-Home Dry Cleaning Kits</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Shopping 5 best cloth napkins napkins product reviews shopping table setting Wed, 22 Feb 2017 10:00:14 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1897036 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 No-Fuss Plants That Will Brighten Your Home Until Spring http://www.wisebread.com/9-no-fuss-plants-that-will-brighten-your-home-until-spring <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-no-fuss-plants-that-will-brighten-your-home-until-spring" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_plants_succulents_537868672.jpg" alt="Woman getting no-fuss plants to brighten her home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>This time of year, it's nice to bring something green home to help pass the gray days. Houseplants are a living reminder that spring is on the horizon. You don't need to be particularly good at keeping stuff thriving to enjoy them, either. Here's a list of some low-maintenance plants that are cheap or, in some cases, free! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-hardest-to-kill-houseplants?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The 5 Hardest-to-Kill Houseplants</a>)</p> <h2>1. Pothos</h2> <p>You can pick up a gorgeously green, 10-ounce pothos plant for less than $4 at Lowe's. If you're worried about it being high maintenance, don't fret. Chances are, you'll have this plant for the long haul. Even people who have green thumbs explain that this plant will withstand a hearty dose of &quot;<a href="http://www.uaex.edu/yard-garden/resource-library/plant-week/golden-pothos.aspx" target="_blank">benign neglect</a>.&quot;</p> <p>And if your friend just happens to have this plant, you may be able to get one for yourself for free. Simply cut an existing plant into some individual segments above the leaf by about half an inch. Take 10 or so of these cuttings and place them in a pot (don't forget to water them) for about six weeks. Each cut should eventually make a vine that will turn into a full plant.</p> <h2>2. Spider Plant</h2> <p>The only plant I have ever had in my own home is the spider plant. And amazingly, it has withstood the test of time and countless messes along the way. Talk about indestructible. What about cheap? Yeah, it's that, too. This plant produces seemingly unlimited babies that you can either inherit or pass along to your friends with virtually no work involved on your part.</p> <p>Here's a tip: spider plants can sometimes get a &quot;burned&quot; look on their leaf tips. This is as a result of too much fluoride accumulation. If you want to avoid this tattered look, try using higher grade fertilizer and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.uaex.edu/yard-garden/resource-library/plant-week/spider-airplane-plant.aspx" target="_blank">skipping tap water</a> when watering. It's a great excuse to try your hand at making a rain collection barrel.</p> <h2>3. Aloe Plant</h2> <p>Want a plant that does more than just look pretty on your shelf? Grow aloe! You can use its gooey center to ease irritation from cuts and burns. A 10-inch aloe vera plant costs only $4. Care is easy. Water well and then let the soil dry&nbsp;<a href="http://www.almanac.com/plant/aloe-vera" target="_blank">one or two inches</a> before the next watering.</p> <p>Another option is&nbsp;<a href="http://www.uaex.edu/yard-garden/resource-library/plant-week/Aloe-variegata-tiger-02-26-2016.aspx" target="_blank">tiger alloe</a>. It is one of the smaller plants in the aloe family and only reaches about 10 inches tall. As a result, it fits well on coffee tables or other areas in compact apartments. Oh, and it gets some spikes with orange flowers in the middle of winter to help shake the cold-weather blues and add a burst of color into your life.</p> <h2>4. Jade Plant</h2> <p>Jade plants can last <a href="http://www.uaex.edu/yard-garden/resource-library/plant-week/jade-plant.aspx" target="_blank">100 years or more</a> with proper care. It is a slow-growing succulent, so it doesn't need to take up a lot of space and can survive even if you forget to water it regularly. You can grab a jade of your very own for around $4 or $5.</p> <p>If your jade picks up mealybugs &mdash; a white, cottony mass &mdash; you can treat it with some rubbing alcohol.</p> <h2>5. Cactus</h2> <p>My neighbor bought a tiny Christmas cactus plant for around $5 a few years ago. It now sits proudly in her bay window and blooms late each fall with some really pretty flowers. You'll want to place this plant in a well-lit area and place it in a well-drained pot. You only need to move it to a new pot every year or so. In the summer, you can move it to your patio &mdash; just make sure to give it some shade during the hottest time of day.</p> <p>This plant is often called a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.uaex.edu/yard-garden/resource-library/plant-week/holiday-cactus.aspx" target="_blank">crab cactus</a> in Europe. And in its native Brazil, the &quot;Christmas&quot; part of the name would be relatively meaningless, as its blooms in spring there (because it's in the Southern Hemisphere).</p> <h2>6. Mother-in-Law's Tongue</h2> <p>While a mother-in-law's tongue (otherwise known as a snake plant) may sound like something you'd want to stay away from, this plant is excellent for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-cheap-plants-for-improving-indoor-air-quality?ref=internal" target="_blank">indoor air quality</a>. It filters anything from formaldehyde to trichloroethylene to benzene out of your home's atmosphere. It's relatively cheap to boot. You can pick one up for around $15 at your local big box center. Experts recommend you place this plant in your bedroom because &mdash; get this &mdash; it can convert exhaled CO2 into oxygen.</p> <p>The best part? This plant is&nbsp;<a href="http://www.uaex.edu/yard-garden/resource-library/plant-week/mother-in-law-tongue.aspx" target="_blank">super hard to kill</a>. They don't need much light either. Just some love, and little water, and an occasional dusting.</p> <h2>7. Cast Iron Plant</h2> <p>Don't have a lot of light in your home? The cast iron plant doesn't care. The&nbsp;<a href="http://www.uaex.edu/yard-garden/in-the-garden/reference-desk/perennials/cast-iron-plant.aspx" target="_blank">shadier, the better</a> for this happy plant. Actually, if it gets too much sun, its leathery leaves will start to burn. Otherwise, it's hearty and easy to maintain. A small cast iron will set you back around $12.</p> <p>If your plant's leaves do end up burning, you can simply cut them off, water well, and place it in a spot with better shade away from windows.</p> <h2>8. Rubber Plant</h2> <p>As one of the world's oldest house plants, the <a href="http://www.ourhouseplants.com/plants/rubber-plant" target="_blank">rubber plant</a> can grow quite tall and take up a bit of space in only a few years' time. But that's good if you want a houseplant as a feature of your home decor. It's also resistant to pests and diseases and can tolerate poor treatment. You can get a rubber plant for around $8 plus shipping costs. Not bad considering how big it will get.</p> <p>My mother-in-law keeps these plants, and she explains that if the leaves turn yellow, it's typically that they're receiving too much water. Back off for a while, and their usual color should return.</p> <h2>9. Peace Lily</h2> <p>Another easy-to-grow houseplant is the <a href="http://www.almanac.com/plant/peace-lily" target="_blank">peace lily</a>. It's quite common in houses across the U.S. and beyond, so you may be able to score one from a friend. Otherwise, you can buy this plant for around $8. Its pleasant white flowers prefer shade versus sun. Most peace lily plants grow to about 16 inches tall and bloom throughout the year. No blooms? Move your plant to a darker room.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-no-fuss-plants-that-will-brighten-your-home-until-spring">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-the-best-stuff-at-homegoods">How to Find the Best Stuff at HomeGoods</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-things-we-keep-buying-that-are-killing-the-planet">8 Things We Keep Buying That Are Killing the Planet</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-air-fresheners">The 5 Best Air Fresheners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-descalers">The 5 Best Descalers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-laundry-detergents">The 5 Best Laundry Detergents</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Shopping buying plants easy plants green living home decor plant care plants spring Mon, 20 Feb 2017 11:00:12 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1894769 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Tools and Gadgets Your Smartphone Can Replace http://www.wisebread.com/7-tools-and-gadgets-your-smartphone-can-replace <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-tools-and-gadgets-your-smartphone-can-replace" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-519709446.jpg" alt="Woman using smartphone to replace tools and gadgets" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Cameras, phones, GPS devices &mdash; we all know about those. But did you know that your smartphone can replace a wide range of esoteric tools and devices? From the scientific calculator to the credit card reader to the remote control, here is a list of tools and gadgets you can replace with your smartphone.</p> <h2>1. Math Software</h2> <p>Yes, your smartphone already comes with a calculator and a scientific calculator. However, those calculators will give you little help when facing the challenges of a quadratic equation, system of linear equations, or inequality with absolute value. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-useful-genius-math-tricks-that-are-actually-easy?ref=seealso" target="_blank">11 Useful, Genius Math Tricks That Are Actually Easy</a>)</p> <p>This is where <a href="http://photomath.net" target="_blank">Photomath</a> comes in, allowing you to snap a pic of virtually any type of math problem. The app then solves that problem for you, and showing you step-by-step instructions. Think of this app as one of those bulky Texas Instruments calculators on steroids! And the best part is that downloading the app is free.</p> <h2>2. Check Deposit Machine</h2> <p>It's Saturday, you just got that $600 check that you've been waiting for, and there's no way you can get to the bank before closing time. You also have no clue how close the next ATM that accepts check deposits is. Instead, you could endorse your check, add a note &quot;for mobile deposit only,&quot; snap a pic of it, and receive up to $200 the next business day.</p> <p>As early as 2009, many banks around the country have issued a smartphone app that allows account holders to do mobile check deposits. Most financial institutions make the <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/10/pros-and-cons-of-mobile-check-deposit/index.htm" target="_blank">first $200</a> of a mobile check deposit available for withdrawal the next business day, and the rest of the funds available on the second or third day for withdrawal. Contact your financial institution for more details and applicable rules.</p> <h2>3. Thermal Imaging Camera</h2> <p>Drafty windows are one of the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-sneaky-home-money-pits-that-sap-your-savings?ref=internal" target="_blank">sneaky home money pits</a> that sap your savings. Hiring a contractor to check this out for you can cost you hundreds before even starting to fix the problem. The <a href="http://amzn.to/2kVxsKK" target="_blank">Flir One Thermal Imager</a> is a device that turns your smartphone into a thermal imaging camera, allowing you to find drafty windows and other poorly insulated spots.</p> <p>While you'll have to invest about $250 in a Flir One Thermal Imager, you can quickly make back that money by lowering your energy bill by <a href="https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_sealing.hm_improvement_methodology" target="_blank">up to 10%</a> per year and taking advantage of rebates and special offers from Energy Star products used in your insulation projects.</p> <h2>4. Credit Card Reader</h2> <p>Since about <a href="http://www.bankrate.com/finance/consumer-index/financial-security-charts-0514.aspx" target="_blank">40% of Americans</a> carry less under $20 in cash on them and 9% of them carry no cash at all, you shouldn't be surprised that it is even harder nowadays to get your friends and relatives to pay you back that $15 they owe you.</p> <p>But you do know that your debtors have a debit or credit card laying around! So, leverage a credit card reader from <a href="https://www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/credit-card-reader" target="_blank">PayPal</a> or <a href="https://squareup.com/reader" target="_blank">Square</a> and start accepting card payments on your smartphone. While the two companies mail you the first credit card reader for free, PayPal and Square charge 2.7% and 2.75% per U.S. debit or credit card swipe, respectively. Paying up to $0.41 for having your $15 today instead of in two months isn't a bad deal at all.</p> <p>Got no Internet connection? No problem, Square's app allows you to collect payment as long as you reconnect to the web within <a href="http://squareup.com/help/us/en/article/5095-process-payments-with-offline-mode" target="_blank">72 hours</a> from the time of the card swipe.</p> <p>And if you want to forgo the phone attachment, you can also choose from several apps that allow users to transfer money to each other directly. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-mobile-payment-tools-you-should-start-using-today?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Mobile Payment Tools You Should Start Using Today</a>)</p> <h2>5. Car Diagnostic Tool</h2> <p>As cars are becoming smarter, they all provide much more information than you think. With the <a href="http://amzn.to/2kOSE2k" target="_blank">Automatic Pro</a>, you can connect to just about any car's standard diagnostics (OBD-II) port and unlock the data in your car's onboard computer. Most cars manufactured since 1996 have this port and are compatible with the Automatic Pro (here's the <a href="https://www.automatic.com/cars/" target="_blank">full list</a>).</p> <p>By investing about $130, you'll become a &quot;car whisperer&quot; and pay zero fees for unlimited monitoring. As a bonus, the Automatic Pro connects to many apps, such as Expensify and Freshbooks for invoicing mileage driven.</p> <h2>6. Level</h2> <p>How many times have you needed a level to hang a frame, mount a TV, or adjust the height of a table? A bubble level can cost you anywhere from $5 to $50 at your local or big box hardware store. Not to mention that you have to drive there, stand in line, and drive back, delaying your start time by up to a couple of hours to start that home project.</p> <p>Instead, you could download a free level smartphone app, such as <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.androgames.level&amp;hl=en" target="_blank">Bubble Level</a> for Android devices or <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/app/id293621500" target="_blank">iHandy Carpenter</a> for Apple devices, and get to work right away.</p> <h2>7. Universal Remote</h2> <p>At my home, we used to have a separate remote for the DVD player, the TV, the cable box, and the air conditioner. That was until we discovered that a smartphone can connect to many electronics and home appliances through its built-in infrared (IR) blaster.</p> <p>While there are many universal remote controller apps out there, <a href="http://peel.com" target="_blank">Peel</a> gets top marks because it connects your smartphone to TVs, set-top boxes, DVD players, entertainment portals such as Roku and Apple TV, audio systems, and home appliances such as air conditioners and heaters. You can download Peel for free, but you may need to purchase the <a href="http://amzn.to/2kVySoq" target="_blank">Pronto 360-degree IR blaster</a>, depending on the connectivity options of devices that you want to control.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-tools-and-gadgets-your-smartphone-can-replace">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/earn-extra-income-with-your-smartphone-camera">Earn Extra Income With Your Smartphone Camera</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/organize-8-key-areas-of-your-life-with-these-17-smart-apps">Organize 8 Key Areas of Your Life With These 17 Smart Apps</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-things-you-must-immediately-do-after-losing-your-smartphone">8 Things You Must Immediately Do After Losing Your Smartphone</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-siri-can-be-your-personal-finance-assistant">9 Ways Siri Can Be Your Personal Finance Assistant</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-cell-phone-app-thats-saving-me-a-smal-fortune">The Cell Phone App That&#039;s Saving Me A Small Fortune</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Technology Android apps you need iPhone modern technology smartphone smartphone apps tech gadgets tools Thu, 16 Feb 2017 10:30:27 +0000 Damian Davila 1892849 at http://www.wisebread.com