Lifestyle en-US 12 Money-Saving Tricks You Can Learn From Hipsters <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-money-saving-tricks-you-can-learn-from-hipsters" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="hipster woman cafe" title="hipster woman cafe" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Particularly if you live in a larger city, you've probably come across a few hipsters. These arty counter-culturalists tend to sport thick glasses, skinny jeans, and thrift-store inspired fashions. And, at least in the 20-30 year age group, they appear to rule. (See also: <a href="">10 of America's Awesomest Cheap Cities</a>)</p> <p>I am not one of them. I don't use an iPhone, I own absolutely no chic, nostalgic memorabilia and, rather than wearing skinny jeans and an ironic T-shirt, I'm often found wearing running spandex and compression socks &mdash; in public. I do, however, think that my outsider status allows me to have a more objective view of hipster culture, and I've noticed that when it comes to money, hipsters have some great habits.</p> <p>Here are the top 12 ways hipsters stay frugal and ignore the status quo for spending.</p> <h2>1. Reuse Everything</h2> <p>Whether it's grandpa's pants, a vintage bicycle or the unicorn T-shirt your little sister used to wear, making old things new again appears to be what being a hipster is all about. (It makes affording the requisite iPhone a whole lot easier too.) (See also: <a href="">20 New Things You Can Make With Old Denim</a>)</p> <h2>2. Avoid Learning to Drive</h2> <p>Whether they're headed to work or out to the bar, hipsters tend to choose a bicycle. These are often vintage or vintage-style fixed-gear cruisers. They get you where you want to go on the cheap, and they look perfect with a basket &mdash; all the better for carrying your groceries.</p> <h2>3. Go Vegetarian (Or, Better Yet, Vegan)</h2> <p>There seem to be two strains of hipster: those who thrive on things like bone marrow and bacon-wrapped meatloaf, and those who abstain from meat and/or all animal products. In fact, in the restaurants where hipsters tend to hang out, you'll often find an interesting mix of bacon and coconut bacon, braised pork belly and fried tempeh. Oh and almond milk. Gallons of it. For the most part, a vegetarian diet &mdash; or at least one with less meat &mdash; can be considerably less expensive, especially if you do the cooking yourself. (See also: <a href="">10 Foods With the Most Bang For Your Buck</a>)</p> <h2>4. Do the Cooking</h2> <p>Hipsters love talking about, eating, and cooking great food. Cooking your own food &mdash; no matter how extravagant &mdash; is always cheaper and healthier than dining out. So pass the kale. Just be sure to share a photo of your latest creation on Instagram before you take the first bite.</p> <h2>5. Read</h2> <p>Reading is a classic form of hipster entertainment. Intellectual curiosity and individualism are hallmarks of hipsterhood. Reading also gives you something to talk about at parties. Plus, books are cheap, and old books look cool.</p> <h2>6. Listen to Newly-Emerging, Independent Music</h2> <p>The hippest of hipster music is played by a band no one has heard of. And since these bands are obscure, they're often dirt cheap to see live. Another thrifty tip: Buy a vinyl copy of the band's single or album and&nbsp;<a href="">use it as art</a>.</p> <h2>7. Use Social Media</h2> <p>Whether they're sharing a yoga selfie on Twitter or posting quotes on Tumblr, hipsters can entertain themselves for days on end with social media. And why shouldn't they? It's free!</p> <h2>8. Skip the Clean Shave</h2> <p>For hipster of the male persuasion, looking like a lumberjack every day of the week is completely acceptable, especially if that facial fur is paired with a bow tie or horn rimmed glasses (vintage of course). If you've seen the&nbsp;<a href="">price of a pack of razorblades lately</a>, letting that facial hair do its thing can be a real money-saver. You'll also have the honor of being referred to as &quot;that guy with the beard&quot; outside of hipster circles.</p> <h2>9. Keep Things Casual</h2> <p>For the ladies, while hipster style is carefully considered, it's never well-coifed. Whether long, short or in between, hipster hair is always judiciously, adorably unkempt (and often asymmetrical). That means les (or no) time at the salon. If you're having a really bad hair day, deal with it hipster-style by&nbsp;<a href="">sporting a beanie</a>.</p> <h2>10. Watch Old Movies</h2> <p>Hipsters love old movies like <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000A7DVR2&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=P7KYPA2QBLKGYUU2">The Big Lebowski</a> and <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000A7DVR2&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=IPUYLJHUIBP77CYK">Ferris Bueller's Day Off</a> along with just about anything directed by Wes Anderson or starring Bill Murray. These movies aren't just fun blasts from the past &mdash; they're usually available on Netflix, which means they cost next to nothing to watch. You do have Netflix, right?</p> <h2>11. Get a Hobby</h2> <p>Whether it's photography, poetry, playing guitar or knitting, hipsters tend to have a hobby or artistic outlet. It's very hipster to devote yourself to something and be totally into it. You don't need expensive materials or formal instructions; hipsters just follow what interests them and do it, making for an inexpensive pastime. Not sure what to try your hand at? Check out this&nbsp;<a href="">Hipster Hobby Generator</a> for ideas.</p> <h2>12. Just Be Cool (Or &quot;Deck&quot;)</h2> <p>Hipsters tend to eschew mass consumerism in favor of individuality. So, at least in theory, if you like something, it's cool. That purple vintage T-shirt with a wolf on it? Cool. That bizarre orange couch you found on Craigslist? Cool. Those antlers you found in your parents' garage? Cool. Your great grandma's cardigan? Cool. As long as it floats your boat, it's cool. If you follow that logic, you can live by your own rules &mdash; and your own budget. As a hipster might say, that's a&nbsp;<a href="">totes amazeballs</a> way to live, whether you're a hipster or not.</p> <p><em>Anything I've overlooked? What frugal lessons have you learned from a hipster?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="12 Money-Saving Tricks You Can Learn From Hipsters" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Tara Struyk</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Lifestyle budgeting frugal lessons hipsters upcycling Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:00:07 +0000 Tara Struyk 1239948 at 12 Surprising Things You Should Keep in Your Fridge <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-surprising-things-you-should-keep-in-your-fridge" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman refrigerator" title="woman refrigerator" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>What do you keep in your fridge? If you're like most people in America, you store milk, eggs, meats, cheeses, soft drinks, juices, and a whole bunch of fruit and vegetables. In short, the fridge is for food, right? Well, not always. (See also: <a href="">Fridge or Counter? Where to Store Fruit for Best Flavor</a>)</p> <p>Turns out there are lots of things better served cold, like these 12 surprising items you should consider keeping in your fridge.</p> <h2>1. Candles</h2> <p>You can extend the burning life of taper candles by storing them in your refrigerator. Place them in something that will stop them absorbing moisture, such as zip-lock bags, foil, or cling wrap. Then when the time comes to use them, you'll get more bright for your buck.</p> <h2>2. Rechargeable Batteries</h2> <p>When you're not using batteries, don't keep them in the junk drawer or garage cabinet. Instead, pop them in the fridge; batteries can be preserved by keeping them cold. You can extend them by minutes or hours, and can get some seemingly dead batteries to come back to life. The freezer works well for this, too.</p> <h2>3. Whole Wheat Flour</h2> <p>That's not a mistake. The wheat germ in whole-wheat flour has a short shelf life, and can go off pretty quickly. You should keep your whole-wheat flour in the fridge, but make sure you put it in an airtight container. Flour acts like sponge for other odors and flavors, and anything strong (like onion) can taint the whole batch. Nobody wants a bunch of onion flavored cupcakes.</p> <h2>4. Metal Spoons</h2> <p>Why would you want access to a cold spoon? This is a tip from people who work in the beauty profession. If you wake up with bags under your eyes, pressing the back of a cold metal spoon against them can take away the puffiness and swelling. This is, however, only a temporary solution. It also works with slices of cold cucumber, but the great thing about spoons is that they never go bad.</p> <h2>5. Skin Cream and Sunscreen</h2> <p>If you don't like the idea of pressing icy-cold metal to your face, store your skin cream in the fridge instead. Keeping it nice and cold will have a similar effect to the cold spoons, and it's also a soothing thing to put on in the hot weather. This goes double for sunscreen on hot days.</p> <h2>6. Nail Polish</h2> <p>Celebrity manicurist (yes, there is such a profession) <a href="">Kait Mosh</a> says that heat and light are the enemies of nail polish, and will thicken it up over time. As the father of two young girls, I can't tell you how many times I've tried applying goopy nail polish, with awful results. To stop this happening, keep your nail polish in the fridge. It will prolong the life and keep it flowing freely.</p> <h2>7. Bowls and Plates</h2> <p>If you're a fan of ice cream (and who isn't?) or other cold foods, it doesn't hurt to devote a section of your fridge to a few plates and bowls. They stack nicely, and when it comes time for a helping of ice cream, the cold bowl stops it from melting as quickly. It's also good for any other foods that will benefit from staying colder, longer.</p> <h2>8. Olive Oil</h2> <p>You may not realize it, but olive oil is delicate. Many experts agree that the best way to store olive oil is in the same conditions as wine &mdash; roughly 57 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, very few of us have a wine cellar or wine fridge, so the next best things is a spot in the regular fridge. (Note: High-end or premium extra-virgin olive oils should not get the same treatment, as it interferes with the flavor and aroma.)</p> <h2>9. Camera Film</h2> <p>Does anyone still use traditional camera film any more? Yes, they do. Like vinyl, it's starting to make a comeback. There are certain effects people want from traditional film that are difficult to fake in the digital world. However, it's a lot more difficult to get hold of camera film these days, and it's more expensive. So make sure it produces the best results by keeping your camera film in the fridge. It won't extend the shelf life though.</p> <h2>10. Nuts</h2> <p>You can double the shelf life of nuts by keeping them in the fridge. A tub of them in the pantry will last three months, but that can be extended to six months in your fridge. You can also freeze them and extend their life to over a year. Just like flour, remember to keep them in air-tight containers as they will absorb odors from strong-smelling foods.</p> <h2>11. Flower Bulbs</h2> <p>Professional gardeners can chime in on this one, but many people store tulip bulbs in the fridge for 12-16 weeks as a method of &quot;<a href="">forcing</a>&quot; them to send up shoots:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">You can chill the bulbs in the old-fashioned way by potting them up and placing the pots in cold storage (40 to 45 F). An easier method, especially if space is limited, is to place the bulbs themselves in the fridge for the big chill, then planting in pots.</p> <h2>12. Dead Birds</h2> <p>How could I not include this <a href="">one</a>? Of course, don't expect to get your money back from the magic store. You have to admit, it's the most surprising item on the list!</p> <p><em>What do you keep in your fridge, other than the obvious items? Let us know.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="12 Surprising Things You Should Keep in Your Fridge" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Paul Michael</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home Lifestyle beauty crafts fridge refrigerator Wed, 15 Oct 2014 17:00:04 +0000 Paul Michael 1235099 at 20 Ways to Entertain Your Kids for Free <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/20-ways-to-entertain-your-kids-for-free" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="family baking" title="family baking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you've ever been stuck wondering what to do with your kids on the weekend, this list is for you. You don't need to spend a dime to entertain your family and bond in the process. Sometimes the best things in life really are free! (See also: <a href="">47 cheap, Fun Things to Do This Weekend</a>)</p> <h2>1. Visit Your Library</h2> <p>We frequent our local library at least every week for free storytimes. Plus, you can pick up books, DVDs, and other materials to entertain your child for free. Many libraries also arrange toys in their children's section, and it's a great place to meet other parents to set up play-dates.</p> <h2>2. Check the Community Calendar</h2> <p>While you're at the library, check your local paper (or click online) and any bulletin boards for any and all events going on in your area. Very often colleges, universities, and other community centers will host family events that are free and open to the public.</p> <h2>3. Crash Store Events</h2> <p>Sometimes book stores, grocery stores, craft stores, toy stores, and other merchants will host free activities. More often than not, these events are intended to get you to come into the store and buy things. So, consider leaving your cash and cards at home and sticking to the zero dollar budget.</p> <h2>4. Make Cookies</h2> <p>Spend a Saturday afternoon in and use your baking powers to mix up a big batch of sugar cookies. Take your time and cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Then frost them. Get artistic. Encourage your child to take the lead. Small activities can turn into big learning experiences.</p> <h2>5. Play Games</h2> <p>Start a weekly tradition of playing board games with your kids. I've seen games that allow kids as young as three to participate. You can also try charades with older kids, and a deck of cards is useful in a pinch.</p> <h2>6. Camp at Home</h2> <p>Skip all the site fees and other camping costs and set up the family tent in your backyard. What I love about backyard camping is that you don't necessarily have to sleep outdoors to enjoy all the fun. And you can fire up the grill for a good old fashioned cookout! (See also: <a href="">This Is How You Grill Pizza At Home</a>)</p> <h2>7. Create a Sensory Bin</h2> <p>The youngest children get a kick out of <a href="">homemade sensory bins</a>. Fill a shallow plastic container (choose one with a top) with rice, corn kernels, uncooked noodles, and anything else that boasts some interesting texture. It's like a cleaner version of a sandbox that you can play with indoors.</p> <h2>8. Visit Museums on Free Days</h2> <p>Many museums are either free or donation-only. Those that do charge admission sometimes have admission-free days each month or season. Check the museum's website or call ahead for more information.</p> <h2>9. Reuse Cardboard Boxes</h2> <p>Take all the cardboard boxes you intend to recycle and turn them into something great. You can make race cars, boats, robots, and even entire houses! We often do our grocery shopping at Aldi and use the boxes they stock to transport our food home. Our daughter gets hours of enjoyment! (See also: <a href="">What You Should Never Buy From Aldi</a>)</p> <h2>10. Build a Library</h2> <p>Have you heard of <a href="">Little Free Libraries</a>? They are tiny &quot;houses&quot; you place books into for your neighbors to borrow. (They can leave books for you to read, too!) If this concept sounds cool to you, take a weekend to build and decorate a structure. Then identify a few old books on your shelf that you'd be willing to share. (See also: <a href="">Free Books: Little Libraries That Build Community</a>)</p> <h2>11. Melt Crayons</h2> <p>Take all those odds and ends of your child's crayons and turn them into neat shapes with swirled colors. You just preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, place crayons in a silicone mold, and <a href="">bake for 15 minutes</a>. Let cool completely before using.</p> <h2>12. Ride a Bike</h2> <p>Head to a local park or hit the sidewalks for a family bike ride. You can have a destination in mind, like a playground, or just wander the streets. Sometimes you'll discover more free things to do &mdash; street performers, festivals, neighborhood gatherings &mdash; on the go.</p> <h2>13. Rake Leaves</h2> <p>It may seem like a chore at first, but getting the whole family involved with raking leaves will get the job done faster. Or maybe not. Half the fun of completing this chore with your kids is jumping in them. Make sure you drink a warm mug of cider when you're done.</p> <h2>14. Use Perks</h2> <p>If you have store or restaurant loyalty cards, take a weekend and use as many free meals, ice creams, pizzas, doughnuts, and whatever else you've earned. I like to store my coupons and cards in a plastic zip pocket inside a three-ring binder. That way, I don't lose anything and can quickly check there before heading out the door.</p> <h2>15. Go Geocaching</h2> <p>Take your family on a <a href="">real life treasure hunt</a> using your GPS device. You'll navigate to specific coordinates and look for clues to get you to your next destination. Little explorers are sure to love this activity.</p> <h2>16. Create a Home Theater</h2> <p>Save yourself the high ticket and concessions costs and watch a movie at home. Make it legit! Have the whole family wear their pajamas, pop some popcorn in your microwave, and turn out all the lights. You can even make it a double feature for the same $0.00 price tag.</p> <h2>17. Walk in Nature</h2> <p>Grab a bag or container and head into your backyard or local hiking trail. Have your child collect small plants, leaves, nuts, flowers, and any other natural treasures. Then bring them home <a href="">and identify them</a>. Your little scientist might also like to make his or her <a href="">own terrarium</a> and add to the collections as weeks go on.</p> <h2>18. Party at the Beach</h2> <p>Well, now that the weather is getting colder, you won't go to the actual beach. Instead, have an <a href="">indoor beach party</a>. Turn the thermostat up a degree, fill up the tub with water and some floatation devices, and have you kid put on his or her swimsuit. You can lay out on the living room floor, pack and indoor picnic, and slip into your sandals.</p> <h2>19. Craft</h2> <p>You don't need an expensive subscription service to do crafts with your kids. Gather up all your crayons, markers, glues, glitters, stickers, pipe cleaners, and other supplies and create <a href="">DIY Craft Kits</a>. Whatever you group together doesn't have to make anything specific. The magic is in the creativity.</p> <h2>20. Host a Sleepover</h2> <p>Invite a couple of your child's friends over for a sleepover using some of the activities above. You can make <a href="">homemade pizza</a> versus getting takeout. Play hide-and-seek with flashlights. Build forts. Play board games. If you kid is a little too young for a whole night, make it an afternoon!</p> <p><em>Any fun, free ways to keep the kids entertained that we forgot? Let us know below!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="20 Ways to Entertain Your Kids for Free" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Entertainment Lifestyle bored entertaining games kids Wed, 15 Oct 2014 13:00:04 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1235098 at 10 Things You Don't Actually Need to Buy for Your New Baby (Plus 5 You Must) <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-things-you-dont-actually-need-to-buy-for-your-new-baby-plus-5-you-must" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="couple baby carrier" title="couple baby carrier" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You're pregnant. Congratulations! You're probably making a lot of big decisions right now between what to name your kid, what to eat to ward off morning sickness, and what kind of stroller might best suit your family's needs.</p> <p>If you haven't registered already, you might find the whole thing a rather daunting task. There are (too) many choices these days, so make it easy for yourself by crossing these 10 items off your list before you even head to the store. (See also: <a href="">Take These 10 Things of Your Wedding Registry Immediately</a>)</p> <h2>Remove From Your List</h2> <p>Many of these things for baby make it onto every list, which is unfortunate, because they just add to the clutter a new baby brings into the house.</p> <h3>Changing Table</h3> <p>We never registered for or purchased a changing table, and we did just fine. If you live in a small place, like an apartment, space might also be an issue. Instead, we got a <a href="">long dresser</a> that we used for both changing diapers and storing clothing. You can also change your child on the floor (lay down a soft blanket or pad) or on your bed. And by the time your child is, say, a two-year-old, you'll have changed him or her in some wild spots regardless, I promise.</p> <h3>Wipe Warmer</h3> <p>My daughter was born at the start of winter, and we received a wipe warmer as a gift (it wasn't on our list). We're almost to her third birthday and still haven't opened the box to use the thing. Yes, it will warm wipes before you use them on your child. No, it's not worth the hassle and extra energy costs &mdash; however minute &mdash; to keep it running.</p> <h3>Bassinet</h3> <p>Whatever sleep situation you choose, you might want your baby to snooze in a cozy space for the first few months within arm's reach of your bed. Resist the urge to purchase a bassinet for this purpose, as it will collect dust after not terribly long. A <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=166841011&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=AVG2J4WT3GZCZX62">Pack 'n Play</a> is a good alternative if you eventually plan to travel. My daughter slept in hers from the start (it has a <a href="">newborn sleep attachment</a>) and still sleeps in it to this day on vacations, camping, etc.</p> <h3>Bottles</h3> <p>If you plan to serve breastmilk or formula from a bottle, you don't want to stock up on just one kind before you know what works the best for you and baby. Get a few varieties to start with, see what wins over the others, and use gift cards or any cash you might receive after the baby is born to add to the collection.</p> <h3>Swaddle Sacks</h3> <p>There are lots of adorable swaddling sacks in different fabrics and colors out there promising a good night's sleep to anyone who chooses to use them. Unfortunately, your child might not like having his or her arms tethered down, even from day one. Try simple swaddling blankets and <a href="">wrapping your baby manually</a> for the same effect. They are cheaper and more versatile.</p> <h3>Crib Bedding</h3> <p>I love all those beautiful crib bedding sets I see in catalogs and online. The American Academy of Pediatrics, however, does not recommend crib bumpers, blankets, quilts, stuffed animals, or pillows as these items <a href="">increase the risk of SIDS</a>. Stick with fitted sheets instead for both safety and frugality. Oh, and you can skip the crib mobile too!</p> <h3>Newborn Fashions</h3> <p>It's tempting to dress up your little one in adorable outfits and accessories. We had lots of dresses, headbands, and even little jeans &mdash; and we never used any of them. Collect a nice set of soft, plain clothes &mdash; onesies and those snap pajamas work great &mdash; for comfort and easy cleaning (spit-up!). Get a nice set of socks and leave the extras, like tiny shoes, for when he or she is up and walking.</p> <h3>Baby Food Maker</h3> <p>In the nesting period, we all get those visions of hand milling the finest organic baby food from scratch. If you make this dream a reality, good for you. Still, you don't need a fancy machine to do the work. Simply steam and puree veggies using a pot, some water, and a standard blender. Freeze portions in an ice tray, which is usually divided into one-ounce cubes.</p> <h3>Big Ticket Items</h3> <p>Before you fill your registry with high chairs, infant seats, swings, and other expensive items &mdash; check around. Your friends with older kids might have these things sitting in their basements in near-new condition. Or you can search sites like Craigslist to find great deals. Just be careful with car seats, cribs, or anything else you suspect might have a recall, as safety standards routinely change.</p> <h3>Random Gadgets</h3> <p>There are pacifier and boogie wipes, pee tee-pees, and all other sorts of things you'll think you need to stash in your diaper bag. My rule of thumb: If your mother didn't have it to use with you, then there's a good chance you don't need it either. It's cool that people have thought of products to help ease the first year, but parenting is hard work no matter how many gadgets you have in your closets and drawers.</p> <h2>Stuff to Add to Your List</h2> <p>When you're done culling, add a few things that really will help you get through baby's first year.</p> <h3>Burp Cloths</h3> <p>Our daughter ended up having reflux, so we went through gazillions of burp cloths each day. We also found these towels helpful after the baby stage for use in the kitchen or other cleaning purposes. You don't even need baby-specific cloths &mdash; soft tea towels work well. My favorite kind, though, are actually those packs of prefold cloth diapers. Super absorbent and inexpensive.</p> <h3>Jogging Stroller</h3> <p>Even if you're not a runner, I highly recommend a sporty 3-wheeled stroller because you'll use it &mdash; almost every day &mdash; for years and years. We have an umbrella stroller, but it just doesn't measure up when it comes to sun coverage, maneuverability, durability, or versatility. Think of all those trips to the beach and strolls through your local park. Plus, you can walk or jog to get good exercise without paying a sitter!</p> <h3>Diapers</h3> <p>It doesn't matter if you're choosing cloth or disposable diapers &mdash; you need to add whatever you pick to your registry. You'll want quite a few in different sizes to help you start out. I personally love the idea of a cloth diapering service, which costs around the same price as disposable diapers each week, just with an eco-friendly touch. The best part? They do the laundry for you! Check around for services offered in your area.</p> <h3>Baby Carrier</h3> <p>You don't need to be into attachment parenting to benefit from babywearing. Your infant will be snug as a bug against your chest and you'll be able to get some stuff done &mdash; hands-free &mdash; while he or she is resting. Baby carriers are also convenient for travel, allowing you to move around freely and even let your kid nap on the go. There are lots of choices, including long fabric wraps and backpack-like carriers, so investigate the options and choose one that fits your family's needs.</p> <h3>Sound Machine</h3> <p>I am a pro-sound machine kind of gal. Our daughter wakes easily, just like mommy. When we brought her home from the hospital, we lived in a house around 1,000 square feet where sound traveled easily. A continuous noise machine helps buff out those noises that might otherwise stir or awaken your baby. You can even find versions that travel easily for on-the-go protection. Ours is actually a sound machine and humidifier in one, so multipurpose!</p> <p><em>Are there any baby items you found particularly vital? Or utterly unnecessary? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Things You Don&#039;t Actually Need to Buy for Your New Baby (Plus 5 You Must)" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home Lifestyle baby gear baby registry baby supplies newborns Thu, 09 Oct 2014 09:00:06 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1226225 at The Easy Way to Set an Allowance That Won't Ruin Your Kid <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-easy-way-to-set-an-allowance-that-wont-ruin-your-kid" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="allowance" title="allowance" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Like many kids, when I was young, my parents gave me an allowance each week. Even as an adult, I continue to cut myself a break in our budget for a monthly amount that's just mine to spend however I like.</p> <p>But how much is enough for kids? And what should the rules surrounding cash be so that they learn to respect and value money? Let's examine this issue from all angles, shall we?</p> <h2>Age</h2> <p>As soon as your child appears to have an understanding of what money is, you can start him or her on an allowance. For some, this might be as soon as ages three or four. For others, waiting until grade school might be more appropriate. Young kids can learn the basics of money by counting dollars or even using these <a href="">coin popsicle stick puppets</a>. And so many of us adults use credit and debit cards for most purchases, but I'm starting to pay for more stuff in cash so my daughter can observe the exchange. Interestingly enough, she's already started asking questions.</p> <h2>Amount</h2> <p>There are a number of ways you can figure exactly how much to give your child. Most of my friends follow the guideline of $1 a year per week. So, for example, a seven-year-old kid would get $7 a week to spend or save. But you need to choose a number that works for you and your overall budget, too. Factor in how much money you generally spend on your child each week (add in anything and everything), and see if you can portion any of that into an allowance to shift the financial responsibility.</p> <p>If you're totally stuck, you can use this <a href="">handy calculator</a> to help calculate an appropriate amount. Personally? I like the idea of doling out an allowance <a href="">monthly versus weekly</a>. My daughter is three-years-old, which would mean she would get $12 a month using the standard system. However, $8 sounds more appropriate for my family's budget and how much I feel she needs at this stage. You see how quickly you can make the decisions versus following standard practices. In other words: there's really no right or wrong answer to this question.</p> <h2>Work</h2> <p>You decide if your child has to work (or not) to earn the weekly wage. Experts are still <a href="">split on this issue</a>. However, as adults, we know that money doesn't fall out of the sky. And most of us aren't handed cash on a regular basis just because. In my opinion, part of the whole allowance thing should involve at least <em>some</em> type of chores or other work.</p> <p>While not all helping should be rewarded with money, combining the two can be empowering for kids and positively inform their work ethic early on. Consider setting chores that are simply part of everyday life and garner no monetary reward. For earning an allowance, you can set some that are additional &mdash; above an beyond household responsibilities.</p> <p>Here are some ideas to organize yourself.</p> <h3>Chore Cards</h3> <p>This system can work for <a href="">younger kids</a> and <a href="">older teens</a> alike. On each card, you write a task and define what it entails. Your child performs multiple tasks and, therefore, earns his or her allowance.</p> <h3>Chore Chart</h3> <p>With a different approach, this <a href="">chore chart</a> gives kids instant gratification for the work they do. On Monday through Friday, kids earn $1 a day for completing all assigned tasks and get to see this money grow each day.</p> <h3>Jar System</h3> <p>Give your child a glass or plastic jar with her or her name written on it. Stash <a href="">popsicle sticks</a> inside with chores written on them. You can even define dollar amounts for each associated task.</p> <h2>Save and Share</h2> <p>Encourage your child to put away some allowance money into savings each week. This doesn't have to mean opening an account at the bank just yet. Instead, set a designated jar or stash money into a piggy bank. A clear container works well because it allows kids to watch their money grow. And while you're at it, use small bills, so it's more obvious as it piles up. Visual cues are powerful in this regard.</p> <p>Some families even have their children stow away a portion of their cash for <a href="">charity and donations</a>. How you approach an allowance is ultimately up to you and influenced your family's unique situation and values. You are in control and can help set the tone for how your child approaches money in life.</p> <h2>Reward</h2> <p>As far as what kids can spend their money on, it should really be up to them after all the saving and sharing portions have been taken out. This is the part where there's a lot of learning and trial and error involved. If you give out allowances weekly and your child spends it all on the first day, don't cave and buy whatever trinket he's clamoring for later in the week. In a way, you're teaching your child to slowly learn from <a href="">his or her own mistakes</a>.</p> <p>You can always help guide the process by introducing basic budgeting techniques toward a certain toy or item. Regardless, be prepared for missteps and disappointments. It's all part of learning about money and gaining that fundamental understanding that we can't have everything we want.</p> <p><em>Do you give your child an allowance? What's your approach? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The Easy Way to Set an Allowance That Won&#039;t Ruin Your Kid" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Lifestyle allowance chores kids money lessons for kids Mon, 06 Oct 2014 15:00:06 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1226904 at 10 Big Expenses You Can Easily Get Rid Of <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-big-expenses-you-can-easily-get-rid-of" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman thinking" title="woman thinking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're like me, your budget follows the 80/20 rule -- 80% or your income goes to 20% of your spending categories. To knock out the expense of any of these big ticket bills would have an immediately therapeutic effect on your cash flow. Ironically, these big items are also some of the most difficult to part with. (See also: See also: <a href="">7 Unnecessary Household Expenses You Can Cut Today</a>)</p> <p>Lucky for you, we've got a plan for scrapping them one by one&hellip;.</p> <h2>1. Mortgage or Rent</h2> <p>Everyone needs a place to live, and we are not suggesting that you crash in a van &mdash; down by the river. But you don't necessarily need a full mortgage or pricey rental lease to live comfortably, either.</p> <p>While it's difficult for families to go without a housing payment, single folks should be able to find a creative way to skip paying for housing. This can include taking on a <a href="">job that includes free room and board</a>, staying with relatives (while offering them something in return), or getting a school loan specifically for paying that dorm bill. And there is always refinancing your mortgage to pay it off early.</p> <h2>2. Car Payment</h2> <p>Technology has made it easier than ever to skip the car payment, and many are taking advantage. You can choose a car-sharing arrangement, public transportation, carpooling, or even biking it. My family of eight has opted to maintain a 20-year-old car over the cost of making payments, and we rent a new model from a rental company when we need a more reliable vehicle for going out of town. We save big money.</p> <h2>3. Other Car Fees</h2> <p>Did I mention that having a 1996 vehicle comes with extra perks? It costs just $30 to license and register our vehicle every year. And liability insurance is less than $12 a month!</p> <h2>4. Cable</h2> <p>You can find all kinds of articles on how streaming entertainment can almost fully replace the traditional cable box. We cut the cord two years ago and have never regretted it. The only thing our expensive $97 a month bill got us that the $21 total bill for Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix combined can't offer is live college football games. We listen to the radio when we can't make it to the local eatery to watch the games on the wall of TV's. It's a small sacrifice for the big savings we see.</p> <h2>5. Internet</h2> <p>With most smartphone plans offering Wi-Fi hotspots as part of your plan, it's possible to skip having broadband in your home altogether. This won't work for the homebody who streams Netflix all day, but it is perfect for the person who is almost always in a public Wi-Fi location and only need their hotspot for using apps or checking email. You can also add on extra data for a lower cost per month than buying a contracted plan through many internet providers.</p> <h2>6. College for the Kids</h2> <p>Not all kids go to college, but for those who want to, having a college savings plan can make all the difference. We have straight up told our kids that they won't be getting a fat plan from Mom and Dad when they graduate. We do contribute a small &quot;allowance&quot; that they put into their funds, but the rest of each child's cost will be paid through their own contributions from after-school jobs, gifts, scholarships, and creative use of transfer and dual credit courses. Our daughter, for example, can take classes while still in high school at the local community college for 50% of the tuition cost. These transfer to her chosen 4-year college at 100% credit.</p> <h2>7. Retirement</h2> <p>Yes, you will need something to live off of when you retire, but who said it has to come from a traditional &quot;retirement savings&quot; plan such as a 401(k) or Roth IRA?</p> <p>Since stocks can be just as volatile as other investments, and the funds can't easily be touched until you retire, many are turning to business investments as an alternative. Buying farmland, investment property, or real assets in your own startup can start paying off right away, and the value can increase to well over what you'll need when you retire. As with any investment, there are risks, but since you are involved in the day-to-day of these investments, the chances of another Enron-style scam are limited.</p> <h2>8. A Big Wedding</h2> <p>Big &quot;I do's&quot; can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars, but why? The happiest day of your life doesn't also have to be the most expensive. Invest in a small function, or elope and have an intimate reception with close family and friends. The money saved can be put to more useful things (such as knocking out expense #1 on our list.)</p> <h2>9. Funeral</h2> <p>While not as fun to think about, the same approach for the happiest day of your life can be taken for the last day of your life. Things like satin-trimmed caskets and premier burial plots can take a healthy life insurance policy and whittle it down to nothing; prepaid plans burn money you could easily invest while you're still alive. A simple cremation and memorial service can be a beautiful, but budget-conscious, alternative. Be sure to discuss your frugal wishes with family before you go; or better yet, include it in your legally-binding last will and testament.</p> <h2>10. Baby Delivery</h2> <p>While you can't get rid of all the costs of having a baby, you can significantly cut back by delivering at home. I have no experience in this matter, so I can't say that it's for everyone. Paying an experienced midwife to facilitate a home-birth is known to be a blessing for all involved, however, and if you and baby are healthy enough to try it, the savings can be $5-$15K or more!</p> <p><em>How much can you save by cutting out just one of these high-cost items? We'd love to hear how you got rid of your &quot;80%&quot; in the comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Big Expenses You Can Easily Get Rid Of" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Linsey Knerl</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Lifestyle budgets costs expenses spending Fri, 03 Oct 2014 09:00:05 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1226260 at How to Look Rich Without Having Much Money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-look-rich-without-having-much-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="businessman drinking coffee" title="business drinking coffee" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Before you hunt me down with your pitchforks and fiery torches (I honestly can't wait to read the comments on this one), let me tell you that I understand the inherent vanity involved in the pursuit of this goal. While I'm not trying to convince Wise Bread readers to be disingenuous, I do recognize that there are plenty of people out there who want to claim their piece of the not-so-humble pie even though they don't have the greenbacks to buy it. Thus, this is for them &mdash; my ballers-on-a-budget brethren.</p> <p>With that disclaimer out of the way, let's all learn how to look rich without having much money.</p> <h2>Be a Student of the Rich</h2> <p>Rich folks aren't elusive creatures that you'll only capture in their natural environment while gazing from afar. Nope, they're all around us, and if you want to be perceived as someone who runs with the elite, learn how to act, dress, and talk like them.</p> <p>&quot;Study them,&quot; agrees <a href="">Los Angeles realtor, coach, speaker and writer Chantay Bridges</a>. &quot;When a man wears a suit, do they always have cufflinks? A tie clip? How is their handkerchief folded? After you do your homework, do what they do.&quot;</p> <h2>Follow the Money Trail</h2> <p>A great way to look like you're a baller and also hang out with actual ballers is to follow the wealthy to the places they party, relax, and retreat. Go to fancy restaurants, pop into the most popular bars and clubs, and schedule your weekends around recreational activities that beckon the Benjamins. But be wise: Remember that you don't have much money; this isn't about keeping up with the Joneses but rather giving the impression that you're one of them. Order inexpensive apps at that fancy restaurant, sip a &quot;mocktail&quot; at the club, and just hang around looking fabulous and aloof (rich people always seem very aloof to me) at those recreational activities without whipping out your wallet.</p> <p>&quot;Pretending to be rich is very easy,&quot; claims Tanner Agar, <a href="">founder and CEO of The Chef Shelf</a>, and works with chefs and restaurants to take their signature recipes and create retail products. &quot;Business people come into expensive bars all the time, ones the junior members can't afford. If you want to look rich, tell the bartender you're sober but need to fit in. The bartender can pour you carbonated soda and lime all night long. No one knows, you don't get charged, and you can drive home.&quot;</p> <h2>Refine Your Look</h2> <p>You don't have to wear designer duds to look like you're well off. Instead, work with what you have and tighten it up. Dress a bit more professional and preppy &mdash; on weekdays as well as weekends &mdash; to present a put-together image at all times. You can still get casual, but your clothes should always be clean, well fitted, and contemporary. This means, unfortunately, that your days of going to the supermarket in sweatpants are over. That's just one of the (fake) prices you'll have pay if you want to be (fake) rich.</p> <h2>Solicit Advice From Friends</h2> <p>Everybody has a different idea of what it means to look and act rich. Query your friends to find out their take on the characteristics of wealthy people and choose the ones that are within your means and that you think are worth pursuing.</p> <h2>Become Friends With Wealthier People</h2> <p>Want to rub elbows with the deep-pocketed? Make rich friends.</p> <p>That's easier said than done, but if you're hanging out where rich people hang out, you're bound to hit it off with somebody sometime. A word of caution, however: Don't pretend like you're loaded if your newfound friendship starts to turn into something genuine. Your secret will come out sooner or later, so I recommend being yourself from the get go. If your personalities truly click, your financial status won't matter to the rich person &mdash; some of them, at least. If they discover that you're a phony, you'll be dropped like a bad habit. Conversely, if you're you from the start, you can build a real relationship with that rich person &mdash; and hopefully enjoy some of the perks that come along with it.</p> <h2>Rent Designer Accessories</h2> <p>If the trendiest, hottest designer labels are a must-have for you, renting your clothing and accessories is an option. I don't highly recommend this practice because even the rental prices are steep (we're talking high fashion here), but if you think the tag on your clothing will gain you access to the inner circle you can go this route. Katie Brewer, certified financial planner and founder of <a href="">Your Richest Life</a>, suggests <a href=""></a>, but other sites include <a href="">Rent the Runway</a> and <a href="">Leading Luxury</a>.</p> <h2>Keep It Clean &mdash; From Head to Toe</h2> <p>Always keep your footwear well maintained and polished,&quot; advises Albert Goldson, <a href="">executive Director of an NYC-based boutique firm</a> that provides entrepreneurs and startups the cross-cultural tools to conduct business with firms worldwide. &quot;It's amazing the positive impression people have of people with good looking footwear regardless of the brand.&quot; Of course, this applies to everything you're wearing &mdash; from your watch to your wallet.</p> <p>Even still, it's important to think beyond the clothes and accessories. Personal hygiene is critical (whether you're trying to look rich or not, by the way), which means that you should keep your hair trimmed and neat, nails buffed and polished, and teeth fresh and sparkling.</p> <h2>Find a Good Tailor</h2> <p>I've mentioned how clean lines and well-fitting clothing can improve your appearance &mdash; and a tailor can get you there quicker. With a tailor there's no need to throw out clothing that's a bit big on you, and you can really take advantage of inexpensive items from thrift shops and other deep-discount stores even when what you want doesn't quite fit. I use a tailor quite often to have my sweaters taken in, in fact. The smallest sweater size at the J.Crew Factory Store is a small, and it's a bit big in the belly for me. The tailor takes it in a few inches to give me a tighter look that also makes me appear slimmer.</p> <h2>Barter With Someone Who Has Something You Want</h2> <p>I love, love, love this idea from <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0615901565&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=7CUZLB75J4AAFZXL">best-selling author</a> and <a href="">certified personal image consultant Marian Rothschild</a>: &quot;Want to arrive at an event in a limo, but can't possibly afford one? Call up the owner and arrange to barter services,&quot; she says. &quot;Maybe they need their lawn cared for, guitar lessons for their kid, or their car detailed. What do you have to trade?&quot;</p> <p>What you're willing to trade doesn't have to be services, however; you can use your material possessions to your advantage, too.</p> <h2>Learn How to DIY for High-End, Custom Looks</h2> <p>Now that you've got your personal style figured out, it's time to bump up the rest of your life &mdash; on a budget.</p> <p>&quot;From furniture to art to personal style items, you can DIY yourself to looking much richer than you really are by making items from scratch and refurbishing and customizing existing items,&quot; <a href="">says realtor David Kean</a>. &quot;An easy way to make your home look designer-done and rich on a low budget is to learn how to paint &mdash; your furniture, that is. Goodwill, Salvation Army, and other thrift shops often have good quality furniture [that you can transform.]&quot;</p> <p>But don't stop there.</p> <p>&quot;To give your home a sense of family wealth, collect some instant heirlooms,&quot; Kean continues. &quot;Find an old ancestral portrait of someone that looks like they could be related to you. Add a couple pieces of silver plate, pieces of antique looking Asian porcelain, a cool sculpture, or funky 1950s piece of pottery.&quot;</p> <p>Of course, this is just one man's take on what rich &quot;looks&quot; like, so feel free to generalize the advice and pursue your own idea of faux wealthy home design that suits your style.</p> <h2>Buy a Status-Symbol Used Car Instead of a New Sensible Car</h2> <p>Instead of buying a sensible new car, you can realistically by a used status symbol on wheels, so you can look like you've got it goin' on. Regular guy Gary Castelle is an expert in this area.</p> <p>&quot;It's a little known secret that wealthy people often have a 'weekend' convertible,&quot; Gary says. &quot;These little two-seaters aren't much use for anything, so you can find one with incredibly low mileage, since they aren't for the family or traveling. Also, because wealthy people owned them, they've had top notch service. &quot;Case in point is my 1999 Mercedes 230 SLK. It's a great-looking little car in near mint condition. I purchased it in 2010 with only 48k miles for only $12,000 or about the same cost as a five-year-old Toyota Camry. No one can tell that it's a '99, and most people think it's only a few years old. I get compliments on it all the time.&quot;</p> <p>All that aside, however, you should still take your car buying seriously. It's a major expense, so do your research in advance of any car that you plan to buy to make sure you're not getting a lemon.</p> <h2>Keep That Body in Shape</h2> <p>Rich people have time and money to spend on keeping their bodies looking great, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a youngish rich person who doesn't put an emphasis on physical fitness. Really annoying, isn't it? For those of us who can't afford personal trainers to get us on track, we've got to do it ourselves. The silver lining is that nowadays staying motivated and finding new workouts is as easy as downloading an app. I use <a href="">MapMyRun</a> to log my workouts, and I post them on Facebook when I'm finished for a little extra praise and encouragement that keeps me pushing forward.</p> <h2>Achieve Your Perceived Status</h2> <p>You can hobnob with the rich the old-fashioned way &mdash; by earning it &mdash; even if you don't have much money; all you have to do is be a loyal customer.</p> <p>&quot;I'm pretty well-off but I get to sit next to millionaires and celebrities,&quot; says comedian Dan Nainan. &quot;The way to do this is to fly only one airline and achieve status. Many people fly 10 different airlines, always looking for the cheapest fare. This is shortsighted; the benefits of achieving elite status include getting two miles for every mile flown, and many other benefits.&quot;</p> <h2>Don't Be Afraid of a Little Vanity</h2> <p>I'm a big fan of art &mdash; both my homes are filled with original pieces &mdash; but I also like having personal photos and portraits around, too. I have so many, in fact, that someone flat-out asked me once why I have so many pictures of my husband and me around the house. I wasn't offended at all. On the contrary, it's my home, and I like us &mdash; so there you have it.</p> <p>And as it turns out, me and the rich have a similar decorating style.</p> <p>&quot;I have noticed that having a portrait painted of your children, yourself, or other family members is somewhat of a status symbol,&quot; says artist <a href="">Arlissa Vaughn</a>. &quot;The average middle class folks all have their annual professional photo sessions, but the upper class have well-selected photos turned into a portrait painting. Having a portrait painted in a smaller size can actually be very affordable, but the effects of its meaning in your home are lasting and give your interior decor a definitive look of prosperity.&quot;</p> <p>Still, if you can't afford an artist to do the portrait for you, there are online outlets that will turn a photograph into a painting for very reasonable prices. Just do a search.</p> <h2>Carry a Big Wad of Cash</h2> <p>It's all about deception with this little trick, and it comes from straight from my husband, of whom I'm now very skeptical. &quot;Wrap a $100 bill around a bunch of ones and flash it around,&quot; he says.</p> <h2>Invest in Formalwear</h2> <p>It can be a pricey purchase up front, but trust me when I tell you that you'll save money in the long run &mdash; guys especially. Having a tuxedo in your closet means that you'll save on the price of rentals (which are expensive enough these days), and it'll pay for itself after three would-be rentals if you buy an economical tux. You'll also open up the opportunities you can have to wine and dine with the wealthy at society events, fundraisers, galas, and more because you can now afford the price of admission when before you balked at the idea of admission and a tux rental.</p> <p>If this is a tactic you choose to employ, you can sometimes save a nice chunk of change by buying your tux the same time as a friend. You can purchase a formerly rented tux at an already discounted rate, but often times stores like Men's Wearhouse will have special deals if you buy two suits. Score the deal with your friend and split the difference so you both walk away winners. There also are loyalty programs in place that reward you with future discounts for reaching a certain cost threshold &mdash; which you should definitely split with your friend as well.</p> <h2>Edit Your Social Media Carefully &mdash; Especially Instagram</h2> <p>This entire post is based on the idea of perception &mdash; you're not really rich; you're just trying to look the part &mdash; and there's no better place to pull the wool over people's eyes in that regard than on social media. The #1 source? Instagram.</p> <p>If you're a savvy social media user, you can edit your profiles to include only the most beautiful aspects of your life &mdash; from the fabulous places you go to the exotic food you eat to the pretty people with whom you hang. A smartly managed Instagram account, in particular, can provide the filtered impression of living the good life even when it's just so-so.</p> <p>Would you believe that there's an entire meme based on this concept? The Rich Kids of Instagram (tooootally a thing &mdash; although most participants are actual rich kids) gives a sneak peek into the lavish and completely materialistic and egotistical lives of the 1%'s offspring and those who are trying to be like them. I'm not saying it's not absolutely absurd; I'm just saying it exists. And you can be part of it with #RKOI. (P.S. Follow me on Instagram at mikeyrox.)</p> <p><em>What do you think about these ways to look rich without having much money? Are they spot on, or are they off-base? Do you have other suggestions to add? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Look Rich Without Having Much Money" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Lifestyle acting rich faking it lifestyles of the rich and famous looking rich Mon, 29 Sep 2014 15:00:03 +0000 Mikey Rox 1221625 at 16 Ways You Are Causing Road Rage <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/16-ways-you-are-causing-road-rage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="angry driver" title="angry driver" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Ever gotten into such a tizzy in the car that your head nearly exploded? You're not the only one. reports that <a href="">66% of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving</a> &mdash; or &quot;road rage&quot; &mdash; and half of drivers who are on the receiving end of an aggressive behavior, such as horn honking, a rude gesture, or tailgating admit to responding with aggressive behavior themselves. (See also: <a href="">12 Ways You're Driving Your Coworkers Insane</a>)</p> <p>You can help prevent road rage, however, if you drive responsibly and recognize the common catalysts for most incidents. In no particular order, here are 16 highly contentious vehicular sins you might be committing that have the potential to escalate to a dangerous level.</p> <h2>1. Driving Slow in the Fast Lane and Refusing to Move Over</h2> <p>It's hard choose the most offensive of all driving offenses from this list, but this one is definitely near the top. There's nothing that will have me calling you all kinds of names not fit for church if you're driving five miles or more <em>under</em> the speed limit in the left lane of the highway. And on two lane highways? It's called the &quot;passing lane.&quot; If you aren't passing, move right!</p> <h2>2. Keeping Pace With the Car Next to You So No One Behind Can Pass</h2> <p>Yeah, you know this guy. He's driving the exact speed as the car next to him so nobody behind can pass. Not only is this really creepy &mdash; I don't want some stranger staring me down for an extended period of time while I'm driving &mdash; but it's also downright rude. Speed up or fall back so I can escape this torture already.</p> <h2>3. Riding Your Brakes for No Apparent Reason</h2> <p>What's that ahead of you? Oh, nothing? You just want to press on your brakes every 10 seconds because you feel like 25 in a 35-mile-per-hour zone is too fast? Or maybe you're just a poor driver who needs to be reevaluated by the DMV. Whatever the case, get with the program pal; people are losing their patience.</p> <h2>4. Endangering Lives Because You're Fiddling With Your Phone</h2> <p>Everybody thinks that they've mastered the skill &mdash; and maybe you have &mdash; but you also have to consider the unpredictability of other drivers on the road who can do any number of things to affect your own driving. The National Safety Council reports that<a href=""> more than 25% of all automobile crashes are associated with cell phone use</a> these days. And if you're not paying attention, the potential outcome of this situation can be worse than you've ever imagined. If you're at fault, you might be paying for it for the rest of your life. Listen to Oprah, folks; don't text (or talk or browse the Internet) and drive.</p> <h2>5. Flying Into a Rage for No Good Reason</h2> <p>Did the driver that offended you really do something so bad that you now have to go to confession this weekend? Probably not, so why did you react so aggressively?</p> <p>Author Rachelle Henry thinks that it's important to <a href="">not project your feelings onto others</a> &mdash; especially when in the car &mdash; if they really didn't do anything wrong. &quot;When I had a job that I hated, every morning during my morning commute someone managed to upset me by doing something 'stupid,' and I would become irrationally angry,&quot; she says. &quot;When I no longer had that job and was happy, I let things roll off of me.&quot; It's all about perspective, my friends. Evaluate your happiness level to see if there's a reason you're lashing out prematurely.</p> <h2>6. Failing to Use Blinkers When Changing Lanes</h2> <p>How am I supposed to know that you'd like to get in front of me or that you'd like to glide across three lanes of traffic in an attempt to avoid missing the exit if you don't have a blinker on? I don't &mdash; which makes for an excellent case in court when you cause a crash.</p> <h2>7. Speeding Up When You Spot Someone Trying to Merge</h2> <p>It never fails that as soon as I turn my blinker on to merge into another lane, the person trailing behind me in the intended lane suddenly gets a lead foot. It's one of those give-me-strength moments that are best handled with regulated breathing and a long count to 10.</p> <h2>8. Turning on Your Blinker Two Seconds Before You Turn</h2> <p>It would be nice to know that you'd like to make that right turn more than a few seconds before you make it. But what do you care, right? If I rear-end you, it's my fault regardless. Don't be that person.</p> <h2>9. Weaseling Your Way Into the On- or Off-Ramp at the Last Second</h2> <p>Listen, I live in Manhattan, where traffic is treacherous nearly 24/7, so I understand the plight of not wanting to wait in line for another dreadful few minutes to take the next exit. But have some compassion. The folks ahead of you have been waiting <em>longer</em> than you, so it's a real you-know-what move to cut them off so you can get home quicker.</p> <p>It might also be helpful to know that you could become fodder for someone else when you act a fool, like so many people did for Kerri Kochanski, author of <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1482319403&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=X4O4CXRKNHQFHKUS">1,001 People That Suck</a>, which features an entire chapter on road rage. &quot;One day I was so aggravated by a driver who cut me off,&quot; she says. &quot;Instead of stalking and confronting the driver, or turning my anger inward, I decided to write a book about this person &mdash; and other anonymous people who do rude, crappy things and get away with it. Maybe they wouldn't suffer a consequence from their actions, but at least they would be 'officially' labeled as 'people that suck.' And that would make me feel better, and it would prevent me from landing in jail.&quot;</p> <h2>10. Blasting Your Horn Prematurely</h2> <p>The light <em>just</em> turned green. Give the driver a break before you fly into a blaring, obnoxious fit because they didn't take off like it's the Daytona 500 the moment the light changed.</p> <h2>11. Rubbernecking</h2> <p>We're all guilty of this, which is the problem. Rubbernecking jams up the road so badly that the delay can last for miles &mdash; even when the accident is on the other side of the road. As soon as you pass it, however, it's a wide-open highway. Why, whhhhhy do we do this to ourselves?</p> <h2>12. Bicyclists Who Don't Follow the Rules of the Road</h2> <p>I've seen bicyclists who have purposefully gone the opposite way of oncoming traffic, those who have blown through red lights with absolutely no regard for drivers, and riders who take up a regular traffic lane with their 14-miles-per-hour nonsense and don't give a lick that anybody's behind them. Note to all the bicyclists out there: You're riding a bike; the rest of us are driving cars. One hurts a whole lot more than the other, so be courteous and obey the rules.</p> <h2>13. Holding Up Turning Traffic When You're Not Turning in a Turn-Only Lane</h2> <p>Many times this is a mistake, so I'll just impart on you that it's important to pay attention to the signs painted on the road ahead of you. If you're not turning, you shouldn't be in the turn-only lane holding up everybody else. That's a real good way to get beeped to death in some places.</p> <h2>14. Multitasking at the Wheel</h2> <p>We've already discussed how you shouldn't fiddle with your phone while you're driving, but there are other distractions that can cause problems on the road. Here's a quick list of no-nos: Eating, putting on makeup, reading a newspaper (I have seen this in action and I was in total shock), doing anything with the person in the passenger seat that would be deemed illegal if you got caught, doing anything with yourself that would be deemed illegal if you got caught. Focus on safe driving so everybody gets home with all the parts with which they started the day.</p> <h2>15. Standing in a Parking Space to Save It</h2> <p>I believe in first-come, first-served, so if the vehicle is not around to claim a spot, you shouldn't have your body in it so nobody else can take it; that's not how this works.</p> <p>Last holiday season I encountered a girl in a parking space that she refused to give up to four nice ladies in a car that pulled up because her &quot;mother was on the way.&quot; She also claimed that her mother was handicapped, at which point I showed her the very available handicapped spot just across the street. She didn't want to hear any of it, refused to budge, and basically wore the four nice ladies down until they moved along. Of course, when her mother showed up (who was driving and also flipped the ladies off), the only handicap she appeared to have was an incredibly rude daughter.</p> <h2>16. Swooping Into a Parking Spot That Has Been Claimed by Another Driver</h2> <p>This is another personal situation I've dealt with, and maybe you have too. I drove around a busy parking lot on a Saturday afternoon for what seemed like forever until I finally found a spot. I put my blinker on and waited for the car to pull out so I could pull in. Before I had a chance, however, a car swooped in from the opposite direction and slid right in. And wouldn't you know that she had the audacity to start screaming at me when I expressed my frustration at her for being selfish and inconsiderate? Soooome people!</p> <p><em>Do you have driving scenarios that are likely to send someone into road rage that you'd like to add? I'd love to hear your stories in the comments section below.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="16 Ways You Are Causing Road Rage" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Lifestyle Personal Development general tips lifestyle personal development Mon, 22 Sep 2014 15:00:11 +0000 Mikey Rox 1216065 at Wise Bread Reloaded: Watch These Adorable Puppy and Kitten Videos and Learn How to Care for Your Own, Frugally <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/wise-bread-reloaded-watch-these-adorable-puppy-and-kitten-videos-and-learn-how-to-care-for-your-own" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="puppy kitten" title="puppy kitten" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Have you seen this already? The video of the dachshund pups frollicking? It's short and so cute you'll scream. Go ahead and watch. We'll wait.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" width="605" height="340" src="//" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>Puppies (and kittens!) <em>are</em> cute and adorable, but they also need proper care. It's a big responsibility &mdash; one that can get expensive if you aren't careful.</p> <p>Over the years Wise Bread's writers have come up with lots of clever ways to cut down the cost of living with a pet, while also increasing the satisfaction and enjoyment for pets and people alike. Here's a sampling.</p> <p><a href="">10 DIY Dog Toys You Can Make for Pennies</a> &mdash; Paul Michael points you toward an assortment of fun and frugal dog toys, everything from the classic Sock and Ball to the always engaging Cardboard Tubular.</p> <p><a href="">5 iPhone Apps Your Dog Wants You to Download</a> &mdash; Our smartphones have infiltrated every aspect of our lives &mdash; even pet care. Mikey Rox uncovers five apps your dog agrees are all awesome.</p> <p><a href="">Homemade Dog Food &mdash; Recipe and Cost</a> &mdash; Elizabeth Lang Walks you through going DIY with your dog chow with an easy, healthful recipe that saves her family about $30 a month on dog food.</p> <p><a href="">No Pulling! Dogs Walk Easy With the Easy Walk Harness</a> &mdash; I'm including this one because I'm shameless &mdash; the featured photo is of my dog Doughty, and I think you'll agree, she's the cutest of all the dogs. (I'm also a big believer in the effectiveness of the harness I review.)</p> <h2>Cats Are Cute and Need Quality Care, Too!</h2> <p>Just so you don't think Wise Bread is not fair and balanced, our writers have also covered cat care, too.</p> <p><a href="">How Much Does It Cost to Keep a Cat?</a> &mdash; Carrie Kirby breaks out the calculator and the spreadsheet and tallies it all up. Fortunately, there's no accounting for attitude &mdash; you get that free.</p> <p><a href="">Really Great Uses for Kitty Litter</a> &mdash; After the obvious, there's a lot you can do with that sack of super absorbent sand. Linsey Knerl shows you what and how.</p> <p><a href="">Another 36 Uses for Tin Foil</a> &mdash; Number 33 is the relevant one writer Nora Dunn suggests &mdash; cat play toy. Unnumbered is the featured photo.</p> <p>Finally, since we opened with puppies playing, let's close with kittens cavorting.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" width="605" height="340" src="//" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Wise Bread Reloaded: Watch These Adorable Puppy and Kitten Videos and Learn How to Care for Your Own, Frugally" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Lars Peterson</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Lifestyle animal care cat dog pet care pets Sat, 20 Sep 2014 11:00:04 +0000 Lars Peterson 1216974 at How to Stop Hating Yourself About Money and Actually Make Positive Changes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-stop-hating-yourself-about-money-and-actually-make-positive-changes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="financial problems" title="financial problems" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Bad money management leads to money guilt, which leads to more bad money management.</p> <p>More specifically, this is because money guilt can lead you to avoid thinking about or addressing the scenarios that make you feel guilty. You might budget less, or find yourself nervous to look at your checking account or open your bank statements. You engage in these behaviors to avoid the anxiety and guilt you experience when trying to improve in these areas. (See also: <a href="">Your Money Worries Are Holding You Back</a>)</p> <p>This cycle is known as avoidance coping, and it has to stop.</p> <p>Instead of staying trapped in a <a href="">guilt and shame cycle</a>, we need to make intentional changes in the way we handle our money and the way we deal with the guilt that ensues after we inevitably make mistakes.</p> <h2>1. Make Saving Manageable With Small Contributions</h2> <p>Budgeting and saving isn't about being able to put large sums of money into your savings account all at once. It's being intentional and calculated about what you're spending so that you allow yourself to put modest and manageable sums of money away for retirement or whatever else you might want to save for. People get hung up because they think they need to put a lot away at once. This often leads to failure, which then results in money guilt and giving up.</p> <p>Instead, budget and give yourself plenty of room with your savings. Go with a small amount; something you're certain won't be difficult for you to manage. Over time those small amounts add up and can change as your income changes.</p> <h2>2. Include a &quot;Fun&quot; or &quot;Misc&quot; Category in Your Budget</h2> <p>You can use one of the &quot;other&quot; categories in <a href="">Dave Ramsey's budget forms</a> to allow yourself money for a &quot;fun&quot; budget item. This part of your budget is essentially a cushion that can be spent on whatever you want. If you mess up and buy a coffee or go to the movies when you didn't plan on it, deduct it from this section of your budget so that you don't feel like you've broken your financial plan for the week. Make sure you allot a reasonable amount, because assuming you spend all of the fun budget, it shouldn't drain your account. Reasonable is determined by your income, but generally, it shouldn't be more than 10% of your take-home pay.</p> <h2>3. Prioritize Fixed Expenses and Set Them on Auto-Pay</h2> <p>Some expenses are the same month in and month out. These are usually bills like electricity, your rent, mortgage, car payments, and whatever else you know you'll have to pay. When these are missed or late, you get notices which can be uniquely scary and demoralizing. Prioritize them first on your budget and make sure that they get paid early, every month. If the service offers an auto-bill pay or a similar feature that automatically drafts the money from your account, set that up so that you'll get in the habit of having the money there every month before it's due.</p> <h2>4. Assume an Imperfect Process</h2> <p>Making positive changes to your personal financial situation takes time, and it's almost never a smooth road. Recognizing this up front and expecting to make mistakes will help to minimize the guilt that you might feel when you fail to stick to your list of best practices. If you know that this is part of the journey, you're more likely to resist the temptation to backtrack and ignore the process altogether. So assume that you'll run into some snags along the way. When you do, just get back up and stick to your original plan.</p> <h2>Practical Tips for Initially Getting Out of a Money Guilt Rut</h2> <p>The most difficult part of the process can often be in the initial stages when you're trying to change habits and get away from feeling bad about how you handle your money.</p> <p>In that stage there are a few initial things you can do that will help you get your plan jump started.</p> <h3>1. Avoid Taking on More Debt</h3> <p>If you have debt that needs to be paid off, it can be part of your budgeting and planning. What you want to avoid completely is incurring any <em>new </em>debt while you're trying to make good habits.</p> <h3>2. Cut Your Dining and Entertainment Budget</h3> <p>If you do make a &quot;fun&quot; or &quot;misc&quot; budget, it might be wise to bundle entertainment, dining, and all other unnecessary expenses into that category, at least until you get into the swing of being able to budget and save.</p> <h3>3. Make Saving Automatic</h3> <p>Setting up an automatic, weekly transfer from your checking to savings accounts makes contributing to your savings more of an inevitable bill than an optional transaction. Set this up with a small amount that won't stress your cash flow and let it draft every week. As you pay down debt and regain control, up your contribution to savings.</p> <h2>Stick With It</h2> <p>Once you start on a path of good money management and you stay on course, weeks and months turn into years, and before you know it you've been managing money well, developing good habits, and increasing your cash flow and savings. At that point it becomes part of your life and begins to happen naturally. And best of all, you've escaped the trap of guilt-shame-avoidance.</p> <p><em>What about you? How do you avoid the cycle of money guilt and frustration? What are some of your best practices?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Stop Hating Yourself About Money and Actually Make Positive Changes" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Lifestyle avoidance money guilt money shame saving Fri, 22 Aug 2014 11:00:03 +0000 Mikey Rox 1190508 at 7 Homemade Pet Products That Are Cheaper and Better Than Store Bought <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-homemade-pet-products-that-are-cheaper-and-better-than-store-bought" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="dog" title="dog" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We love our pets. So much so that in 2013, Americans spent a whopping <a href="">$55 billion</a> on their furry friends. Almost $14 billion of that went to pet supplies and over the counter (OTC) medicines. (See also: <a href="">10 DIY Dog Toys You Can Make For Pennies</a>)</p> <p>But here's the thing: While recently browsing my local pet supply stores, I found that quite a few of the products contained ingredients that are less than healthy for my dog and the price tag was often pretty steep. I decided to do some price and quality comparisons and found I could make the following products healthier and cheaper than comparable products I could buy at retailers:</p> <h2>1. Toys</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>There are dozens of DIY toy ideas online. My pup loves to solve puzzles, especially when treats are involved. These puzzle toys usually involve hiding a treat inside a compartment that my dog has to figure out how to open. <a href="">Nina Ottosson</a> has a great line of puzzle toys for dogs and I have a few of them that cost me about $40 each. But I could have made this <a href="">similar toy</a> for my pup using a muffin tin and tennis balls for $5, and he also would have had the tennis balls to bounce around the house!</p> <h2>2. Bedding</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Have you seen the price of dog beds lately? I recently went to my local Target to get my little guy a new cozy nap space, and small dog beds (of rather boring design and fairly low quality) cost about $25. Instead, I picked up a small vintage suitcase at my local thrift store that is in great shape and lined it with a plush towel and squishy pillow for less than $10. Try these inspiring <a href="">designs for suitcase pet bedding</a>.</p> <h2>3. Wet Wipes</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>In between his baths, I like to wipe down my pup with wet wipes, particularly after a long walk in the park or a stroll around the streets of New York. Most commercial wipes have chemicals in them that I'd rather not put on my pup's skin (particularly if he's likely to lick his paws!), so I looked into organic wipes that typically cost about $10. Instead, I followed Southern Wag's DIY recipe and made a better quality, healthier wipes for less than $3.</p> <h2>4. Shampoo</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>My dog has dry skin and it causes him to become very itchy and uncomfortable. My vet recommended a prescription shampoo that cost (brace yourself!) $21 for an 8 ounce bottle. However, I didn't want my little guy to be uncomfortable, so I bought it for him. Unfortunately it didn't do much good and it also had a medicine-like scent. I started poking around online and found this <a href="">recipe for dog shampoo</a> by Rebecca Dillon. Total cost for the same 8 ounces was $12, it worked like a charm, and it smelled so much better!</p> <h2>5. Treats</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Quite a few commercially-sold pet treat products are made in China and after <a href="">the contamination issues</a> earlier this year, I started to investigate other options I could make at home. I found a recipe for these <a href="">bacon bark sticks</a> that are a snap to make and cost only $3 for two dozen tasty treats.</p> <h2>6. Surface Cleaner</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Just like humans, pets get sick from time to time. I wanted a cleaner to clean up after my pet that is non-toxic and safe on home surfaces. I could buy <a href="">a cleaner by Method</a> for $4 per bottle. I found this <a href="">recipe for a petsafe surface cleaner</a> online that costs less than $1 to make from items I already have in my home and it did the trick!</p> <h2>7. Tummy Remedy</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Dogs have very acidic digestive systems. It's a holdover from their wolf ancestors who needed to break down the food they caught in the wild. The build-up of acid overnight caused my pup's tummy to often be upset first thing in the morning. My vet wanted to put him on an antacid medicine that would cost $10 month. While I would have been happy to spend that, I wanted to check out natural remedies that might help. After a little investigation, I discovered that a teaspoon of mashed sweet potato once a day calmed his stomach and eliminated the problem for a grand total of $1.50 per month at my local grocery store. I buy the sweet potatoes, boil them, and mash them myself.</p> <p>While I love to make DIY items as much as possible, there are some pet Items that I do buy commercially, and you should too. For example, flea and tick medicine are essential to your pet's health and to your home's health as well. Once you have a flea or tick issue in your home, it is very difficult to remedy. While I've tried all-natural flea and tick medicines for my dog, they've never worked that well, so I stick with commercial brands. I also have a professional groomer do his nail clipping and teeth brushing to ensure that they're done properly.</p> <p>Because you can't put a price on pup beauty.</p> <p><em>(Please note that you should never give human medicine to your pet; always consult your veterinarian before giving any medication to your pet.)</em></p> <p><em>Please share your favorite DIY pet products in the comments below!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="7 Homemade Pet Products That Are Cheaper and Better Than Store Bought" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Christa Avampato</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Lifestyle animals cats DIY dogs Homemade pet food pet supplies pets Fri, 22 Aug 2014 09:00:05 +0000 Christa Avampato 1190936 at 7 Ways You're Wasting Gas Without Realizing It <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-ways-youre-wasting-gas-without-realizing-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="driving car" title="driving car" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>At the time of this writing, the average cost of a gallon of gas in the U.S. is $3.52. And while most of us can remember significantly higher prices at the pump, today's costs don't quite qualify as bargain-basement by anyone's definition. (See also: <a href="">How to Turn Groceries Into Gasoline</a>)</p> <p>So, if you'd like to save some cash on gas, it might be time to change the way you drive. Go from a slurper to a sipper by avoiding these seven fuel-wasting habits.</p> <h2>1. Idling for More Than 10 Seconds</h2> <p>Want to learn how to reduce your fuel efficiency to zero MPG? Let it sit with the engine running. For modern fuel-injected cars, idling for more than 10 seconds is a waste of gas, even when you compare it to the alternative &mdash; just turning off the engine and restarting it when it's time to move again.</p> <h2>2. Driving Too Slow</h2> <p>Everyone knows that driving too <em>fast</em> can waste fuel, but did you know that driving too slow can do the same thing? Driving below your car's optimal speed means the engine is putting out a lot of effort and not accomplishing much. And while optimal speed is a bit of a gray area and depends on the type of transmission your car has, it's usually achieved by balancing the lowest possible RPM with an appropriate speed for the roadway you're on. Just remember: Trying to conserve gas by crawling down the expressway is both dangerous and ineffective.</p> <h2>3. Racing to the Reds</h2> <p>Ever notice how anxious some folks are to floor it when a red light changes to green in heavy traffic? It's as if the drivers don't realize they'll be hitting another red light or stop sign in mere yards. Quick acceleration is a fuel burner and the only thing it efficiently achieves is a smokin' case of car sickness. Instead, retire your drag-racing uniform, lighten up your lead foot, and accelerate slowly to boost fuel economy and save gas.</p> <h2>4. Avoiding Cruise Control</h2> <p>I've always considered the cruise control feature on my car to be the foil against my own driver's ego. But whether we realize it or not, many of us fall into a familiar rhythm when we're driving on an interstate. We speed up to pass, gun it for a mile or so, and then slow down again. Sometimes we even speed up when we anticipate being passed by another motorist. Using cruise control to maintain a reasonable and steady pace makes a lot more sense from a safety and fuel-efficiency perspective.</p> <h2>5. Buying High-Performance Tires</h2> <p>High-performance tires are those super-grippy numbers that hug the pavement and make even the most humble cars feel just a bit more capable and confident. But tires that grip take more energy to move and that takes more gas. Opt for a high-quality standard tread tire instead and don't give your engine more friction to work against.</p> <h2>6. Taking Multiple Short Trips</h2> <p>Is your day filled with short hops and skips in the car? Unless you're planning them right, you're probably wasting fuel. Since engines work most efficiently when they're warmed up, driving a short distance, stopping, letting your car's engine cool down, and going again is a fuel-sucking strategy. Instead, combine trips, schedule the longest one first, and keep each stop brief enough that the engine doesn't cool down in between. Better yet, get a bike for quick errands or consider walking.</p> <h2>7. Deferring Maintenance</h2> <p>Dirty fuel filters, clogged air filters, and malfunctioning oxygen sensors are just three maintenance issues that can be a drag on your car's fuel efficiency. And remember those high-performance tires? You can make any old set hug the road (and slowly lower your MPG) by tooling around while they're under-inflated. Keep on top of basic auto maintenance issues to improve your gas mileage and lower overall costs.</p> <h2>Start Really Saving Gas by Hypermiling</h2> <p><em>Hypermiling</em> is the practice of increasing a car's fuel efficiency by making tweaks to the way you drive or modifications to the car itself. Techniques like turning off the AC while driving, keeping tires properly inflated, and modulating speed to reduce the need to brake so often are just a few simple <a href="">ways to start hypermiling</a> now. And yes; there's an app for that. <a href="">Hypermiling MPG Calculator</a> lets drivers track fuel usage and apply tips and hypermiling strategies to reduce consumption.</p> <p>For more ideas on how to save money at the pump, download Wise Bread's free <a href="">Wise Driving Guide</a>. And for more fuel-defensive driving tips, learn the <a href="">techniques of extreme hypermilers</a>. But remember, with any driving strategy, safety always comes first. Some hypermiling driving methods may not be legal in your area or not advisable under certain conditions.</p> <p>In the end, conserving gas is a lot like conserving any other resource &mdash; it all starts with sharpening our awareness. With a little planning, better choices, sensible techniques, and maybe even an app or two, saving gas can become second nature. And until science perfects the hydrogen car or solar-powered engine, saving at the pump will only have a bigger impact on our personal budgets.</p> <p><em>How do you conserve gas? What's the simplest and most effective tip you have for others?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="7 Ways You&#039;re Wasting Gas Without Realizing It" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Kentin Waits</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Lifestyle Travel 7 Ways You're Wasting Gas Without Realizing It Tue, 19 Aug 2014 11:00:03 +0000 Kentin Waits 1189080 at The 5 Worst Things to Grow in Your Garden <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-5-worst-things-to-grow-in-your-garden" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="gardener carrots" title="gardener carrots" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A garden can be an amazing investment for the home cook, foodie, or family provider. Most plants can be grown and harvested for a small fraction of what it would cost to buy even a couple meals' worth of produce in the store. (See also: <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="">The Only Fruits and Vegetables Worth Growing Yourself</a>)</p> <p>There are other types of plants, however, that offer a weak return on your investment. Here are the vegetables I tend to shy away from, and why you may not want them occupying your precious garden space, either.</p> <h2>Cauliflower</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Cauliflower is a fickle plant in that it has a long growing season before it matures, but also likes it cool. If your part of the country gets hot early, this vegetable may have a hard time. In addition, it needs a little &quot;pampering&quot; to do well. The outer leaves must be grown so that they can be brought up over the head of the cauliflower and tied into place. Assuming you do everything right, they are still prone to beetles and insect damage, which can be hard to deal with in a veggie that is literally hiding away until it is ready. And when you're done with the process, you usually have just the one head to show for all your work anyway.</p> <h2>Carrots</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>I have had luck with growing these beauties at least once in my long gardening life, but it required a ton of work.</p> <p>Carrots need an almost perfect soil bed to give them the right Ph level to grow, as well as a completely unobstructed path downward; if they run into anything on their way south, they can stunt or branch off. Two-pronged carrots, while still tasty, are not the goal of the gardener, and it isn't uncommon to dig up spindly or dwarfed produce after a long season of tending to them. Fresh carrots have a flavor that some may find off, depending on the nutrients in the soil you grow them in. Considering that a bag of carrots is usually less than $1 a pound, they are a cheap commodity best purchased in the store or farmer's market. (See also: <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="">Baby Carrots: The Frugal Idea That Isn't</a>)</p> <h2>Celery</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>What goes best with carrots? Celery, of course! And this also-affordable veggie can be equally painful to grow at home. It's notorious for requiring water and cool temps, but needs a very long time to mature. If you can keep up with the moisture demands and have a soil type that holds moisture, you will be waiting quite a while for your celery.</p> <h2>Head Lettuce</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Leaf lettuce is one of the easiest plants to grow in your garden. You simply plant the seed, water, and watch it grow. Head lettuce, on the other hand, requires a watchful wait for the lettuce to grow large enough to create the round ball we are used to seeing in the store. In the meantime, steady watering and temps are necessary to keep the plant from creating flowers &mdash; or bolting. Most gardeners we know stay away from head lettuce, as the Midwest gets so hot, and the premature flowering of the plants make them taste bitter. Going with a leaf lettuce blend isn't just easier, your salads will be more colorful, too!</p> <h2>Corn</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>If you have a large area to work with, sweet corn can be an easy crop to raise. For the average backyard gardener, however, the amount of ground needed for a substantial crop is more than available.</p> <p>Since corn requires many factors to pollinate, including air movement, one single row of corn will not easily produce. Tall corn can easily blow over in the wind or bad weather, as well, making it difficult for anything less than 20 plants to stay upright. Corn usually only puts on two ears or so per plant, giving a lower yield than most garden plants. In the end, it might be easier to stop at that roadside stand and invest in their five for a dollar sale.</p> <p>As with any article on gardening, your mileage will vary by your location, experience, and luck. Even the most seasoned growers have bad years &mdash; and favorite plants!</p> <p><em>What veggie have you sworn off growing? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The 5 Worst Things to Grow in Your Garden" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Linsey Knerl</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home Lifestyle fruit gardens vegetables Mon, 11 Aug 2014 15:00:03 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1180565 at Replace These 8 Luxury Buys With Their Cheaper, Better Alternatives <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/replace-these-8-luxury-buys-with-their-cheaper-better-alternatives" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="coffee maker" title="coffee maker" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Does the price of an item really determine its quality? Well, this depends on who you ask and what you're buying. (See also: <a href="">How to Have an Above Average Life for Below Average Prices</a>)</p> <p>As a savvy shopper, I believe that paying more for certain items is a better buy. It's no secret that some higher-priced items last longer than cheaper versions, ultimately reducing how much we spend in the long run. But this isn't always the case. As a matter of fact, there are plenty of cheaper alternatives that are just as good (or better) than their luxury counterparts. Here are several of my favorites.</p> <h2>1. Mr. Coffee Single Serve Maker Instead of a Keurig</h2> <p>My obsession with Keurig started a few years ago, and I added this item to my list of things to buy that would make coffee-making easier and less wasteful for <a href="">my overnight guests</a> since my husband and I aren't coffee drinkers.</p> <p>As far as hot beverages go, it doesn't get any better than a single serve coffee maker that brews a variety of coffees, plus tea, cider, and hot chocolate. But if you don't want to fork over $99 to $279 for a Keurig (depending on the size and model), a <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B007JNNQ6Q&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=QHP7HPF6SEQ5WDVO">Mr. Coffee Single Serve</a> maker is a low-cost alternative. These single-serve makers start at $59 and do everything a Keurig does for less. I've heard arguments that Mr. Coffee machines are even easier to use than the luxury single serve marker, plus easier to clean and available in a variety of stylish designs to match your kitchen decor.</p> <h2>2. Airbnb Instead of a High-End Hotel</h2> <p>Planning a trip to New York City or San Francisco and thinking about staying in a hotel? You can sleep in the lap of luxury for a few days, but there's a price to luxury. If you're looking to stretch your vacation dollars, using <a href="">Airbnb to book accommodations</a> provides a cheaper, unique vacation experience. Not only can you meet your host and stay in an actual neighborhood, you get more bang for your buck, which generally includes use of a full kitchen, laundry room, free Internet, and potentially much more.</p> <h2>3. Moissanite Instead of a Diamond</h2> <p>They say diamonds are a girl's best friend &mdash; but if your love can't afford to splurge on a huge engagement ring, or if you're simply looking to add to your jewelry collection, moissanite is just as beautiful as a diamond minus the price tag.</p> <p>Diamonds are the hardest mineral known with a score of 10, yet moissanite stones aren't too far behind with a score of 9.25. Moissanite is more brilliant than diamond, resulting in a remarkable sparkle. And since the stone doesn't attract as much dirt as a diamond, it requires less cleaning and maintains its shine longer. If these features don't persuade you to take a chance with this stone, you might sing a different tune after learning that a moissanite sells for a fraction of the cost of a diamond. A 1.5 carat GIA-Certified Diamond can set you back $10,000, yet you can buy the same size moissanite for about $449.</p> <h2>4. Ninja Blender Instead of a Vitamix</h2> <p><a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0000YRJT6&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=CQ2FEAWTB7JGHHZI">Vitamix</a> is a popular and favored appliance in the health world, with the ability to turn fruits, vegetables, and anything else into delicious smoothies for energy, weight loss, or overall better health. But with a price tag around $500, it's a costly investment. Fortunately, this isn't the only option for drinking your fruits and veggies.</p> <p>The <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B003VWXXXK&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=4VKRW6QLI42CZDW4">Ninja Blender</a> does the same thing, yet has a price tag between $89 and $199. Smaller versions of the Ninja are compact and easily fit in cupboards, which is perfect if you live in an apartment or deal with limited storage space. Also, many models of the Ninja feature a pitcher with a single serve attachment, plus suction-cup feet that keep the blender in place while operating. Seriously, it's the best blender I've ever owned.</p> <h2>5. Concrete Countertops Instead of Marble Countertops</h2> <p>It's the epitome of elegance and luxury, but if you're working with a tight redesign budget, skipping marble countertops and going with a cheaper concrete alternative can save money without sacrificing your vision. I personally love the look of marble in a kitchen, but after pricing this material for my kitchen remodel and learning that prices range from $125 to $250 per square foot, I know firsthand that there are better ways to spend your budget.</p> <p>Concrete countertops are just as stylish and cost as little as $50 to $65+ per square foot. Not only is this material more affordable, it offers matchless strength and durability, it's easy to clean, and you can choose from a variety of colors and designs to give your kitchen or bathroom a custom look.</p> <h2>6. Night Therapy Instead of Tempur-Pedic</h2> <p>Tempur-Pedic has a generous selection of memory foam mattresses that conform to your body and promise the best night's sleep. But seriously, who really wants to pay $3,000 or $4,000 for a mattress? <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B007I81EQG&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=XQUIMXCDFVWI5SMR">Night Therapy</a> might not be a luxury brand, but this entry-level memory foam mattress has a <a href="">comfort rating of 82%</a>, thus it's an excellent contender if you're looking for a mattress to provide support and reduce back pain. And with a price tag of $400 for a queen-sized mattress, you can get nine or ten Night Therapy mattresses for the price of one Tempur-pedic.</p> <h2>7. A Used Fancy Car Instead of a New Fancy Car</h2> <p>As much as I love a brand new car, there's no denying that used cars are often a better deal. Not only because &quot;a new car loses 11% of its value the moment you leave the lot,&quot; reports &mdash; but because you get more for your money with a used car.</p> <p>If you have your heart set on a fancy car, used is definitely the way to get behind a fancier set of wheels without going broke. With improved technology, buying a used car doesn't necessarily mean that you're inheriting another person's car issues, either. Some people enjoy driving a new car every couple of years, thus used fancy cars are readily available; and since they're shelling out big bucks for luxury, they're more likely to take care of these vehicles.</p> <p>Also, styles in the luxury car market rarely undergo drastic changes from one year to the next, which means a two-year-old Acura on the dealer's lot could easily be mistaken for a newer model at first glance. Luxury features such as GPS, surround sound stereo, dual temperature control, leather seats, and wood trim are standard in fancy cars. Buy used and you can enjoy these features while paying $5,000, $8,000, or $10,000 less, depending on the year of the car.</p> <h2>8. A Small House Instead of a McMansion</h2> <p>Some people work hard and save a long time to purchase their dream house &mdash; which is usually a mini mansion with amazing views of an equally impressive back yard. To each his own.</p> <p>Rather than give into the notion that bigger is better, consider the benefits of a small house. Everything is cheaper when you go small from the mortgage to maintenance. Living in a smaller space also forces us to get organized, plus lower expenses translate into more disposable income, and who doesn't enjoy this? The key is choosing a square footage that's right for your family without feeling overly cramped. (See also: <a href="">This Is How You Downsize Your House and Start Living a Better Life</a>)</p> <p><em>Can you think of a luxury item whose cheaper alternative is better? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Replace These 8 Luxury Buys With Their Cheaper, Better Alternatives" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Lifestyle Shopping cheap alternatives luxury shopping smart shopping status Tue, 05 Aug 2014 21:00:04 +0000 Mikey Rox 1174404 at 7 Ways to Appreciate Life's Everyday Moments <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-ways-to-appreciate-lifes-everyday-moments" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's easy to let &quot;busy-ness&quot; keep us from the sweetness in our lives. Learn how to slow the pace and capture the moments that really matter.</p> <p>It's rare to find someone complaining that they have too much time on their hands and don't have enough to do. Instead, we are all overcommitted, overscheduled, and overworked. In fact, according to the Amex EveryDay Study, 88% of moms set unrealistic expectations for themselves.</p> <p>Consequently, we don't think we have the time to sit back and appreciate life's EveryDay Moments.</p> <p>But, the reality is, we do have the time. All of us have the same amount of time everyday and some people are just better at using time to appreciate life than others. So what are the secrets? Here are seven ways to use your time to appreciate life's EveryDay Moments.</p> <p><b>1. Be Okay With Less Than Perfect</b></p> <p>One of the best ways to free up time is to settle for less than best on the things that don't really matter. Do you need to make your bed everyday or would those 15 minutes a week be better used to read to your kids or walk your dog? Is it worth it to spend three hours researching the best composting bin? With the amount of information available to us, we often overthink, overplan, and over-perfect. Instead, be ok with less than perfect and you will free up time to enjoy the moments of daily life.</p> <p><b>2. Pause the Technology</b></p> <p>Are you addicted to checking your email, Twitter, and Facebook? I know I am. And I know with 100% certainty that this gets in the way of enjoying EveryDay Moments. So, at our house, we put technology aside during key times of the day. Phones aren't allowed near the breakfast or dinner tables, when we're getting our son ready for bed, or once we're in bed ourselves. And we try to keep cellphone and computer use to a minimum on the weekends.</p> <p>I know some people who have special bowls or containers for their phones. From the moment they enter their house after work until the time their kids are in bed, the cell phones aren't allowed to leave the bowl. When you stop checking your Facebook feed to read about your high school acquaintances' daily lives, you'll find a lot more time to appreciate your own life.</p> <p><b>3. Recognize the Time You Do Have</b></p> <p>One of the best ways to find more time is to start telling yourself that you have enough time. Instead of complaining about how busy you are, for a week tell yourself, &quot;I have enough time for what is important to me.&quot; I have been practicing this method after reading about it in a time management book and found that it is actually true. When you tell yourself you have enough time, you start reprioritizing and making time for what actually matters the most to you.</p> <p><b>4. Establish Traditions (Even If They're Small)</b></p> <p>Appreciating life's EveryDay Moments is easier when you have traditions. Maybe it's making pizza every Sunday night. Or perhaps it's sharing the highlight of your day at the dinner table or going for a family bike ride on Saturday mornings. Maybe it's your daily run with a friend. In Gretchen Rubin's book,&nbsp;<a href=""><b>Happier at Home</b></a>, she writes about how her family started celebrating minor holidays (like St. Patrick's Day), and that these traditions make their family happier. Regular traditions give people something to look forward to and also help us appreciate the amazing moments in our everyday lives.</p> <p><b>5. Capture the Moment with a Photo</b></p> <p>Sometimes we can't always see how fantastic our EveryDay Moments are with our own eyes and instead need the lens of a camera to fully appreciate them. Try documenting your day through the lens of your camera. What does your family look like at the breakfast table? How does your dog react when he sees the first squirrel of the day? Even though your two-year-old daughter plays with her toys daily, documenting this with your camera phone will help you to see how special the moment is.</p> <p><b>6. Record the Moment in a Book</b></p> <p>When my son was born, we were given a &quot;sentence a day&quot; book. I've never been able to keep a journal or diary for more than a week, but after nearly three years we have managed to write a sentence each day about my son's life. Knowing that I am going to have to write something down at the end of the day helps me stay aware of life's EveryDay Moments. If you make a tradition of recording just one highlight from each day, you'll also find yourself more aware of each and every part of your day.</p> <p><b>7. Take Just 60 Seconds to Look Around</b></p> <p>One of my favorite ways to appreciate life when everything seems far too hectic is to just take a minute. Literally, take 60 seconds and stop whatever it is you are doing and observe. Right now, if you're reading this post at work, on the bus or subway, or sitting on your couch, just pause and look at what's going on around you. What do you see, hear, and smell? Notice your breath and relax and enjoy this particular moment of your life.</p> <p><i>How do you find time to appreciate life's everyday moments? Take a moment to share in comments!</i></p> <p><i>I was selected by American Express to help educate consumers about the <a href="">Amex EveryDay Credit Card</a>. As such, I was paid for my services, but tips and opinions shared about and American Express and the Amex EveryDay Credit Card are my own.</i></p> <p><i>Editorial Note: This post contains references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Please visit our <a href="">Advertiser Disclosure</a> to view our partners, and for additional details.</i></p> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="" /></a></p> <p>Check out more infographics at <a href=""></a>.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="7 Ways to Appreciate Life&#039;s Everyday Moments" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Elizabeth Lang</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Life Hacks Lifestyle Tue, 05 Aug 2014 00:27:48 +0000 Elizabeth Lang 1173263 at