Lifestyle en-US 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 14 Pricey Things You Shouldn't Buy (And What to Get Instead) <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/14-pricey-things-you-shouldnt-buy-and-what-to-get-instead" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="girl shopping" title="girl shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Shakespeare said it best: &quot;Fast bind, fast find; a proverb never stale in thrifty mind.&quot;</p> <p>Savvy shoppers know that living a thrifty lifestyle doesn't mean that you have to give up on the finer things of life. The trick is to find cheaper alternatives to expensive purchases. (See also: <a href="">How to Have an Above Average Life for Below Average Prices</a>)</p> <p>Here are 14 thrifty ways to enjoy affordable alternatives to big ticket items.</p> <h2>Food</h2> <p>Eat like a king without looking like a jester.</p> <h3>1. Caviar</h3> <p>If Family Feud were to ask &quot;Name a food most people can't afford,&quot; caviar would be among the top two answers. A single ounce (28g) of Sevruga caviar can cost you between $108 to $125. If you try to buy one ounce of Osetra Caviar you have to be ready to shell out at least $200. Fortunately, U.S. produced caviar is <a href="">rising in popularity</a>. Buy buying U.S. caviar, you can score a two ounce tin for about $28.</p> <h3>2. Saffron</h3> <p>The <a href="">saffron business is booming</a>. With some farmers selling a kilo of saffron for up to $1,600, you shouldn't be surprised to be paying around $15 for a 0.02 oz. (0.5g) jar. The next time you need some saffron for a delicious paella, bouillabaisse, or risotto, turn to its close cousin: turmeric. You can get a 4 ounce bag (over 100 grams) of turmeric for about $4. To turn down turmeric's strong flavor a notch, use 1/8 teaspoon of turmeric plus 1/2 teaspoon of sweet Hungarian paprika to substitute for 1/4 teaspoon of ground saffron.</p> <h3>3. Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese</h3> <p>You say Parmigiano-Reggiano, I say Pecorino Romano and Locatelli Pecorino Romano. The two latter cheeses are also Italian cheeses, made further down south near Rome. While a little bit saltier, they pack the same wonderful flavor that your Italian masterpieces need. Your wallet will thank you, too. Pecorino Romano and Locatelli Pecorino Romano go for about a $12 per round, which is $10 less per round than Parmigiano-Reggiano. This means you could buy almost two rounds for what you were paying before.</p> <h3>4. Basmati Rice</h3> <p>I love Indian cuisine, but if you look up any DIY videos on the web you quickly realize how expensive it can get to make a full Indian dinner. Top-notch cardamom, garam masala, basmati rice, and curry powder can put a serious dent in your dinner budget. The quickest way to save between $4 to $6 per 25-pound bag is to switch basmati rice for jasmine rice. This Thai rice pairs perfectly with any curry sauce.</p> <h2>Transportation</h2> <p>Getting around shouldn't be complicated and expensive. Not everybody needs a car, and even when you really do need one, you should consider consolidating into a single car. Make it less expensive to get around with these two cheap alternatives.</p> <h3>5. Bicycle</h3> <p>I have lived in several cities that I didn't need a car at all &mdash; all I needed was a bike. As much money as I was saving on gas, I still had to incur several expenses, such as keeping my bike secure, spending money on parking (yes, there is such a thing in congested downtown areas in which space comes at a premium), and replacing my bike whenever stolen or vandalized. Fold-up bikes are an awesome solution to do away with these three big expenses. Some people think that fold-up bikes are only available for $500. Actually, Citizen Bike has fold-up bikes <a href="">starting at $169</a>.</p> <h3>6. Car</h3> <p>For the cities that biking or taking public transportation is out of the question, you gotta have a car. For college students, young working professionals, and single parents, the cost of acquiring a car is often out of the question. Fortunately for them, <a href="">ZipCar</a> provides a viable option to access a car whenever they need it. With memberships starting at $6 per month or $60 per year, you can access a car in 22 U.S. cities, including New York, San Francisco, and Austin, and three international cities. If you don't want to commit to a membership, Zip Car driving rates range from $8 to $10 per hour.</p> <p>Other alternatives for owning a car, are <a href="">Lyft</a> and <a href="">Uber</a>. When using Uber beware of <a href="">surge pricing</a>, which make the rate more expensive than usual during busy times.</p> <h2>Tech</h2> <p>Gadgets can make your life easier and help you make money. Here are ways to make four expensive tech purchases more accessible.</p> <h3>7. Tablet</h3> <p>Internet access is essential nowadays to get access to cheaper products and convenient services, such as mobile banking and email. Tablets are awesome tools because they combine the computing power of laptops and the portability of smartphones. Unfortunately, the <a href="">cheapest iPad models</a> start at $399 and alternatives such as the <a href="">original Kindle Fire</a> start at $119. And this doesn't include the cost of the Internet itself. If you're looking for a cheaper alternative, then consider <a href="">Datawind's UbiSlate</a>. This tablet starts at $37.99 for Wi-Fi-only and has a $99.99 offer that includes one year of <a href="">unlimited basic mobile Internet</a>.</p> <h3>8. Adobe Acrobat Pro</h3> <p>Business professionals around the world create and use PDF files to communicate effectively. An <a href="">Adobe Acrobat Pro license</a> costs $19.99 per month or close to $240 per year, over and over. There are several cheaper options out there (sorted in descending order of price):</p> <ul> <li><a href="">Nitro Pro 9</a>: With just $140 you get access to a software just as powerful as Adobe Acrobat Pro.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="">Qoppa PDF Studio</a>: At $129 this software gives Nitro Pro 9 a good competition, especially if you are looking for reliable OCR conversion, page manipulation and markup.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="">CutePDF Professional</a>: This user-friendly PDF editor allows you to markup your document in different ways. But with a price tag of $50, you shouldn't be surprised that you can do more than that. Still, it is suitable alternative for getting the job done.</li> </ul> <h3>9. Microsoft Office Suite</h3> <p>Microsoft has jumped on the cloud bandwagon and now makes it popular productivity suite available as a subscription service over the web. This provides major savings for you.</p> <p>For example, it costs $219.99 to buy an installation CD for Office Home 2013 to get Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote and Outlook. Instead, with a <a href="">cloud-based subscription</a> (known as Office 365) you pay just $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year. Additionally, Office 365 is way cheaper than a CD license because it is always the latest version. If you buy a one-time CD, you have to pay again to upgrade to a newer version.</p> <h3>10. Smartphones</h3> <p>Next to tablets, smartphones are changing the way we communicate with each other. There is no need to spend more than you need to. Smartphones are no longer a novelty and there are several options beyond Apple and Samsung. Here are <a href="">4 powerful smartphones that aren't overpriced</a>. There are plenty more available, too.</p> <h2>Travel</h2> <p>The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.</p> <h3>11. Hotels</h3> <p>There are several, cheaper alternatives:</p> <ul> <li><a href=""></a>: With listings in 100,000 cities worldwide and 7 million members, you can stay at virtually every city in the world at the lowest possible cost.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Hostels: The two largest listings of hostels are <a href="">Hosteling International</a> and <a href=""></a>. Make sure that you meet the booking requirements (e.g. valid student ID) before paying for a stay.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="">Airbnb</a> gives you access to local renters in over 34,000 cities and 190 countries at prices below hotels.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If you're a fan of <a href="">The Holiday</a> with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz, then you might be into home swapping through networks, such as <a href="">HomeLink</a>, <a href="">HomeExchange</a>, and <a href="">Love Home Swap. </a></li> </ul> <h3>12. Cell Phone Abroad</h3> <p>While international calls and roaming charges are incredibly expensive, there is no need to become completely unreachable just because you are traveling abroad. Here are two cheap alternatives:</p> <ul> <li>If you have access to Wi-Fi, while abroad: <ul> <li>Schedule calls and leverage Skype to do calls while on vacation (See also: <a href="">How I Use Skype to Keep in Touch With Friends and Family</a>).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Contact your cell provider and figure out how to do calls through Wi-Fi only.<br /> &nbsp;</li> </ul> </li> <li>If you don't want to take your own smartphone: <ul> <li>Buy a cheap pre-paid cell and use it to receive calls. Unlike the U.S., several countries don't charge minutes to receive calls.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Research if a cell phone rental would make sense.</li> </ul> </li> </ul> <h2>Entertainment</h2> <p>Here is how to play on the cheap.</p> <h3>13. Gym Membership</h3> <p>Keeping in shape through a gym can run between $20 to $50 per month. That's about $240 to $600 per year! There are two ways to get a cheaper gym membership. First, check out if your local Costco sells gym memberships and compare it to your current rate. Even if you have no Costco card, you can <a href="">window shop at Costco</a>. Second, find out if your health plan provides a fitness reimbursement program, such as <a href="">United Healthcare</a> or <a href=",217714&amp;_dad=portal&amp;_schema=PORTAL">Harvard Pilgrim</a>, or discounted gym membership plan, such as <a href="">Kaiser Permanente</a>. (See also: <a href="">8 Legit Ways to Use the Gym for Free</a>)</p> <h3>14. Video Games</h3> <p>You can be a couch potato and still rack up a heavy entertainment bill. Let's face it, game consoles have always been <a href="">crazy expensive</a>. Stop paying $60 (or more!) per game and take note of these cheaper alternatives:</p> <ul> <li>Download free games for your <a href="">Android device</a>, <a href=";%3Bqid=1404347925&amp;%3Brh=n%3A133140011%2Cn%3A154606011%2Cn%3A156279011%2Cn%3A156376011%2Ck%3Afree%20games&amp;%3Bsort=price-asc-rank&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;keywords=free%20games&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=2QETN2WWDHOHO3XJ">Kindle device</a>, or <a href=";fcId=805001580&amp;id=25180&amp;mt=8&amp;urlDesc=/great-free-games">Apple device</a><br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Use the Netflix for video games: <a href="">Gamefly</a>. Remember to test drive the service with a first free month trial (See also: <a href="">Pay or Subscribe: How to Pay the Least for the Media You Love The Most</a>)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Rent a video game for $2 per day with <a href="">Redbox</a> (sign up for their SMS and email alerts for promo codes for free and discounted rentals)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Buy old school PC games at heavily discounted prices at <a href=""></a><br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Score old game consoles, such as NES and Sega, with dozens of games at dirt cheap prices on or Craiglist</li> </ul> <p><em>What is your favorite cheap alternative to an expensive purchase?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="14 Pricey Things You Shouldn&#039;t Buy (And What to Get Instead)" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Damian Davila</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Lifestyle Shopping cheap alternatives discounts shopping spending Fri, 01 Aug 2014 13:00:04 +0000 Damian Davila 1172367 at The 9 Hidden Costs of Drinking <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-9-hidden-costs-of-drinking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="restaurant drinking" title="restaurant drinking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Drinking isn't cheap. We all know that whether it's a quiet glass of wine at home in the evening or a full-fledged night out on the town, alcohol can cost you. But do you know the <em>true</em> costs? Those that go beyond just the actual price you're paying for that can of Coors or bottle of chianti? (See also: <a href="">How to Make Moonshine</a>)</p> <p>Check out some of the common pitfalls associated with your drinking expenditures, as well as frugal ways to still have your wine and drink it too.</p> <h2>1. Transportation Costs</h2> <p>Taxis, limos, and other chauffeured vehicles are necessary for a responsible night of drinking. However, they don't usually come cheap. Even new ride services like <a href="">Uber</a> can run up the tab. So, what to do when you've had a few, but want to save on your transit costs?</p> <p>If you're lucky enough to live in a city with reliable and safe late night public transportation, by all means take advantage of this cheap alternative to a cab. Another option is to pick nearby restaurants and bars where you can easily walk home. Or, take turns being a designated driver within your entourage each weekend, so that everyone can save and be safe.</p> <h2>2. Restaurant Dining</h2> <p>Having a nice drink with your meal at a restaurant makes for a great night. But, that markup on your drink is hefty. Take wine for example. Some restaurants can <a href="">mark up bottles</a> as high as 400%! And, if you and your other guests start ordering wine by the glass, your bill can skyrocket.</p> <p>First off, if you even think there's a chance that you and another guest will have more than one glass of wine each, then buy the bottle. It's almost always cheaper. Or, find restaurants where you can bring your own drinks (BYOB), and avoid the restaurant markup. Lastly, you can always stick to ordering the restaurant's cheaper drink options, such as domestic beers or house liquors and wines, instead of perusing the more expensive drink menus.</p> <h2>3. The Gracious Host</h2> <p>If you have thrown anything from a dinner party to a wedding, you know that a big chunk of the budget can go to alcohol. Events can get expensive quickly when drinks cost more than your food. Still, the best hosts usually find ways to provide the booze.</p> <p>Short of cutting out the alcohol or forcing a cash bar on guests, try cheaper options, like bulk wine (yes, you could even do wine-in-a-box for the less discerning crowd) or kegs of beer, which all give you a quantity discount. Another option is to make up large batches of your own punch, sangria, or other affordable mixed drinks. This can help save as people can't take the liberty to pour more of the expensive stuff in their concoctions. You can also try for cheaper substitutes. One of my favorites is using Cava instead of Champagne. (See also: <a href="">Discount Luxury: Save 50% or More on 5 Fabulous Substitutions</a>)</p> <h2>4. Late Night Food Run</h2> <p>A late night food run may seem like a fun way to top off your night. However, don't forget that even fast food can cost you, especially if you indulge and aren't thinking as clearly as you might otherwise after having a few drinks.</p> <p>To alleviate the extra spend on calories you probably don't need, try to wait until you get home and eat there where it's cheaper. Fast food restaurants, diners, and food trucks may seem cheap at the time, but they add up. Or, if you are lucky enough to know where to find $1 pizza slices, make sure to only hit up these types of super cheap places if you just can't resist.</p> <h2>5. Running a Tab</h2> <p>Tabs can get out of hand when you slap down a credit card and don't realize how much you are truly spending. And, they can be especially dangerous when you buy drinks for others and are feeling festive (a round of shots anyone?).</p> <p>Next time, try paying cash for your drinks, so you'll be more aware of your spend. If you need to use your credit card, set a limit and ask the bartender to automatically close out your tab once reached. Or, if you are looking to treat others, hit the bar when you can save, such as during happy hour or when regular specials and promotions take place.</p> <h2>6. Shopping and Impulse Buys</h2> <p>Any time you've had a drink during the day, whether it be a lunch date or happy hour splurge, beware of your lowered inhibitions and the expenditures that can follow. It's certainly fun to have lunch and go shopping, but you may overpay or buy stuff on impulse.</p> <p>In order to suppress your urge to splurge, try making sure you have a budget or list in mind before you hit the stores. You can also ask friends to keep you in check or use cash to make sure you don't overspend. And lastly, don't fall into the trap of buying just because whomever you're with starts doing so.</p> <h2>7. Your Crowd</h2> <p>If you run with some high rollers, you may find yourself draining your wallet at fancy clubs and restaurants. The ordinary draft beer at such places can cost you four times more than the pub down the street. And, other beverages are sure to run you a small fortune in such places.</p> <p>To avoid the spend of the rich and famous, perhaps it's time to pick your crowd wisely. You can always go out with more like-minded friends to lower-key establishments. Or, make sure you are the one to pick the venues, so you can choose places with reasonable prices or no cover charges. If you still find yourself confronted with absorbent pricing, limit your intake and stay clear of champagnes and signature mixed drinks, which always run higher than most other items.</p> <h2>8. Health Care Costs</h2> <p>We all know that there's a flip side to most guilty pleasures. Consuming alcohol can affect both your health and your wallet. Continual use or over-consumption can cause a number of <a href="">alcohol related health problems</a>, from liver disorders to heart problems to violence and depression. A <a href="">CDC study</a> has estimated that excessive drinking has cost the country at least $224 billion per year in the past, the majority of which is health care costs. As an individual, this means money lost on doctor's visits, costly procedures, missed pay, decreased quality of life, and higher health insurance premiums.</p> <p>It's obvious that the way to combat such problems is to aim to drink less or not at all. Preventive programs and seeking help for excessive alcohol consumption are measures that can be taken. Be sure to limit binge drinking and search for other ways, besides alcohol, to relax and unwind.</p> <h2>9. Long Term Consequences</h2> <p>Excessive or irresponsible drinking can certainly lead to some grave consequences, especially if you drink and drive. Besides the physical dangers, the <a href="">financial fallout from a DUI</a> is a lot more than you may realize. It has been estimated that by the time you pay bail, legal fees, and insurance, a DUI can cost you $10,000 or more. From the insurance perspective, a DUI will <a href="">increase your premium</a> by several hundred dollars, which can last for up to five years. You may also be required to carry more than the state-mandated amount of coverage, further driving up your costs.</p> <p>The obvious way to avoid such expenses is to not drink and drive. A DUI can do all kinds of harm, much of which can last well beyond the initial offense.</p> <p><em>What are some other extra costs you have come across when it comes to spending on drinks? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The 9 Hidden Costs of Drinking" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Kelly Medeiros</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink Lifestyle alcohol alcohol costs booze drinking wine Thu, 31 Jul 2014 15:00:05 +0000 Kelly Medeiros 1171611 at Want to Cut Costs on Your Next Vacation? Go Green <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/want-to-cut-costs-on-your-next-vacation-go-green" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="travel tablet" title="travel tablet" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When you purchase an airfare, do you usually choose to pay a carbon offset fee? Have you even heard of a carbon offset fee? (It's a small amount to help compensate for the emissions from the flight.)</p> <p>The answer is very likely &quot;no,&quot; and that's ok. But if paying for trip already leaves you feeling too broke to pay any extra fees, there are other things you can do to minimize your impact on the environment while traveling. (See also: <a href="">10 Things You're Paying Too Much for When You Travel</a>)</p> <p>And unlike the carbon offset fee, these things will actually help you save some money.</p> <h2>Shop Local</h2> <p>What's the point of shopping during a trip if you buy mass-produced things you can easily get at home? The T-shirts, fridge magnets, and keychains you see at gift shops were probably shipped in from factories <em>elsewhere</em>.</p> <p>If you have to buy souvenirs, consider getting something local. For example, visit a market to see artisans at work and buy your souvenirs directly from them. The items you buy will be more meaningful and you'll help support the local economy. Not to mention give you a great opportunity to &quot;place drop&quot; when someone asks you where you got that new hat. (See also: <a href="">Why You Should Never Buy Souvenirs</a>)</p> <h2>Green Hotels</h2> <p>Some hotels differentiate themselves from the competition by their environmentally friendly practices that minimize water and energy consumption. There is currently no one prevailing set of global standards for green hotels, but you can often find them through certification organizations like the <a href="">Green Key Eco-Rating Program</a>.</p> <p>If you can book a green hotel, that's great. But even if you don't, it's possible to practice green habits at a non-green hotel.</p> <p>One of the best things about staying at a hotel is having someone clean the room for you. However, this could also be a wasteful practice as sheets and towels don't always have to be changed daily. If you want to reuse your sheets and towels, let the front desk or the housekeeping staff know.</p> <p>Other things you can do at the hotel include recycling, taking short showers, and turning off all electric devices when you leave the room.</p> <h2>Collapsible Food Containers</h2> <p>Think you can't fit food containers in your small carry-on? Think again. There are collapsible versions that can remain compact until you need to use them. They are not specifically marketed as travel items, but they would be perfect for complying with airline carry-on limits, which get stricter by the day. Just pack a <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B001CT4WMU&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=46VB5SOOACO5Q7N3">flattened container or two</a> in your bag, then expand them when necessary for take-outs, leftovers, and picnics.</p> <h2>Reusable Grocery Bags</h2> <p>When I travel, I like to book a suite with a kitchen. Shopping at unfamiliar markets and cooking with local ingredients can be an interesting experience in itself. This is why I pack a reusable grocery bag in my carry-on. It's small, light, and green. Plus, some grocery stores have started charging shoppers for plastic bags.</p> <p>Not everybody goes grocery shopping during a vacation, but do consider packing a reusable grocery bag regardless. These bags are more sturdy than regular plastic bags and would be great for trips to the beach and containing luggage overflow.</p> <h2>Public Transport</h2> <p>If there's a good public transport network at your destination, take advantage of it. You'll see how locals get around and maybe meet some interesting people along the way. It's also cheaper and better for the environment.</p> <p>If you plan to take public transit, check out the city's website for important information like maps, routes, and fares beforehand. These details will help you plan your itinerary and you may even learn some money-saving tips. For example, <a href="">Vancouver's public transit website</a> tells you that a book of 10 tickets is 24% cheaper than 10 single tickets.</p> <h2>Rental Cars</h2> <p>If you have to rent a car, go for the smallest one possible. A smaller car usually consumes less gas, and the car rental company often charges less for it. A hybrid car, if available, would be an even better, greener choice. If you're not familiar with the area, rent a GPS to help you find the shortest routes possible.</p> <h2>Reusable Water Bottles</h2> <p>Bottled water is often marketed as being a healthier alternative to the humble tap water, but the science behind this claim is debatable. At least in the United States, tap water is just as safe to drink as bottled water. Yet, the University of Maryland says <a href="">Americans spent $11.8 billion on 9.7 billion gallons of bottled water</a> in 2012 alone.</p> <p>Single-use water bottles are manufactured at great cost to the environment and most of them are not recycled after use. They're also highly attractive to tourists, who often find themselves walking around for long stretches, unprepared and parched. So if you travel to a destination where the tap water is drinkable, bring a reusable water bottle and save yourself some money.</p> <h2>Digital Reading Material</h2> <p>I used to bring one or two books with me when I traveled, but now everything is on my smartphone. This way, I have fewer things to pack and I can read in the dark before sleeping.</p> <p>Reading on a smartphone is not for everyone &mdash; it's small and it's often too bright. But tablets and e-readers are everywhere and most books are available in digital form. These e-books are often drastically cheaper compared to the printed versions, so you'll save money in the long run.</p> <h2>Access the Sharing Economy</h2> <p>The sharing economy minimizes overall consumption by encouraging people, who are often strangers, to share (actually rent) resources. Thanks to the Internet, there are many ways to take part in the sharing economy when you travel.</p> <p>For accommodation, look into vacation rentals (renting someone's home) through websites like <a href="">Airbnb</a> and <a href="">couchsurfing</a> (sleeping on someone's couch). For longer trips, you could try house-sitting (taking care of someone's home while they're away) through <a href="">HouseCarers</a> or <a href=""></a>. Alternatively, use <a href="">Intervac</a> or <a href="">HomeLink</a> for home exchange (staying at someone's home while the other family stays at yours).</p> <p>Instead of renting a car, you can try ridesharing, which is when a local drives you around for a small fee. <a href="">Lyft</a> and <a href="">Sidecar</a> connect ridesharers in some select cities. If you want something more private, go with peer-to-peer carsharing instead, which means you'll rent a local's car when she's not using it. You can find these cars on <a href="">RelayRides</a> or <a href="">Getaround</a>.</p> <p><em>How do you green your travel? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Want to Cut Costs on Your Next Vacation? Go Green" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Deia B</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Green Living Lifestyle Travel eco-tourism green tourism green travel sustainable tourism Thu, 24 Jul 2014 11:00:05 +0000 Deia B 1166920 at How an Expensive Wardrobe Saves You Money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-an-expensive-wardrobe-saves-you-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="shoe shopping" title="shoe shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>No one wants to spend more than they have to. Still, the saying &quot;you get what you pay for&quot; is a truism. While you might ask &quot;why pay more?&quot; when it comes to clothes there are ways that having an expensive wardrobe can actually save you money in the long run.</p> <p>Here are some ways that spending a little more up front will help you to avoid costs on the back end or even increase your earning potential. (See also: <a href="">8 Cheap Ways to Update a Wardrobe You Hate</a>)</p> <h2>Shoes</h2> <p>When it comes to shoes, there are basically two ways they're going to save you money: buying quality dress shoes and quality sneakers.</p> <h3>Dress Shoes</h3> <p>Dress shoes are a serious &quot;you get what you pay for&quot; kind of thing. People thought I was nuts when I shelled out $800 for a pair of biker boots. They thought I was less nuts when I told them the boots have a lifetime guarantee and that I met a guy once who owned his for over 20 years. A lot of companies have similar guarantees, be they lifetime, 25 years or 10 years. Divide $800 by 20 years and $40 a year doesn't sound that bad.</p> <p>When buying shoes with a 20-plus year guarantee, keep in mind that fashions change over time. As such, you're going to want to buy something basic and versatile &mdash; something that will go with your wardrobe just as well in 10 years as it does today.</p> <h3>Sneakers</h3> <p>Quality sneakers will save you money by saving on hospital bills. A pair of ten dollar running shoes from Payless just aren't going to get the job done &mdash; no matter what &quot;the job&quot; is. Good sneakers last longer, work better for what they're designed to do, and keep your feet and legs better protected.</p> <p>The National Center for Biotechnical Information found that 60% of running-related injuries were due to poor training, with <a href="">the wrong footwear cited</a> as a major contributing factor. The NYU Lagone Medical Center found that <a href="">poor footwear contributed to such injuries</a> and ailments as bunions, hammer toes, blisters, corns, callouses, and even athlete's foot.</p> <p>If you're just using sneakers to walk around the block, this might not be as much of a concern; But if you're engaging in any physical activity, get yourself a pair of good sneakers.</p> <h2>Denim</h2> <p>I don't wear cheap denim and I urge you to do the same. Not only will one pair of $150 jeans last longer than five pairs of $30 jeans, they also look and fit better. High-end denim is a huge trend right now. But again, the upside of it is that you only have to have a couple of pairs. Honestly, anything more than three is sort of overkill.</p> <p>Remember: You shouldn't be washing your jeans. No less a source than the <a href="">CEO of Levi Strauss</a> says so. Buy them, wear them and <a href="">throw them in the freezer when they start to smell bad</a>. This works because it kills the bacteria that create smell. Maybe wash them every six months or a year or so, if you must. And <em>hang</em> them in your closet &mdash; don't fold them or throw them in a heap. (See also: <a href="">25+ Secrets to Keep Your Clothes Brighter, Whiter, and Lasting Longer</a>)</p> <h2>Suits</h2> <p>To be honest, I think &quot;expensive&quot; is the wrong word here. <a href="">You <em>can</em> get killer suits from the thrift store for cheap</a>. However, you need to meet a minimum bar of quality.</p> <h3>Quality Materials</h3> <p>The suit has to look nice from far away and close up, even if you only paid $100 for it. Inexpensive suits can look nice. &quot;Cheap&quot; suits cannot. Look for things like wear (especially on the knees and elbows) or &quot;pilling&quot; &mdash; those little balls that form on cheap materials.</p> <h3>Canvas</h3> <p>If your suit is glued together, it's not going to last as long as a half-canvas or a full-canvas suit. There are several ways to <a href="">tell if a suit is canvassed or fused</a>, including feeling for a third layer of fabric on the jacket torso, looking for stitching underneath the lapel or just asking the salesperson if there is one.</p> <h3>Fit</h3> <p>Even if you get a made-to-measure suit it's going to require some tailoring. A good fit means a better-looking you, which can result in a higher earning potential. Nothing makes you look more pro than a well-tailored suit when you head down to that job interview.</p> <h3>A Good Suit Is Easy to Find</h3> <p>Again, the issue here is not &quot;more equals more.&quot; It's an issue of meeting some minimum requirements &mdash; no matter what they cost. So where do you find suits?</p> <ul> <li><strong>Thrift Store</strong>: This is a bit risky, but you can also score some <em>killer</em> finds for next to nothing. Still, if you're especially concerned that you <em>won't </em>be able to tell what's acceptable, try the next option. <br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Suit Outlets</strong>: These have the advantage of a salesperson on site who can answer your questions like &quot;Is this a full-canvas or a half-canvas&quot; and &quot;Do these suits pill quickly?&quot;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Made-to-Measure Online</strong>: One of the great things about the 21st Century is that you can get a MTM suit for <em>cheap</em> online. My personal favorites are <a href="">Indochino</a> based in Canada and LA's own <a href="">Thick As Thieves</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Your Local Tailor</strong>: Yes, you can still get a suit from the local tailor. This is probably the most expensive way of doing it, but if you have the money to throw around, why not?</li> </ul> <h2>Dry Cleaning</h2> <p>Here's something else I do that people think is nuts: I dry clean all of my clothes. Seriously. I never wash anything.</p> <p>First of all, it's not as expensive as you think. <a href="">A home dry-clean kit</a> can be got for pretty much nothing and that will get you through 2-3 &quot;washes&quot; before you have to bring the heavy hitters in.</p> <p>When you spend more money on clothes, you're going to want to maintain them. I liken dry cleaning my clothes to putting gas in my car: Sure, I put low-octane regular in my 2002 Chevy Cavalier. But when it comes to my 1968 El Camino, it's premium <em>only</em>.</p> <p>Maybe have some stuff around you don't need to dry clean. But the stuff you spend money on you should treat as an investment; The more you wash it, the faster it depreciates.</p> <h2>Socks</h2> <p>Dress socks? Save your money. But when it comes to athletic socks, or socks you're wearing out hiking or hunting or doing other outdoor activities. Not only are they going to keep your feet in better shape (drier and warmer) when you wear them, they're also going to last longer, which as you might have noticed is a recurring theme here.</p> <p><em>What part of your wardrobe do you splurge on?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How an Expensive Wardrobe Saves You Money" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Nicholas Pell</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Lifestyle Shopping clothing expensive clothing men's clothing wardrobe Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:00:03 +0000 Nicholas Pell 1165665 at The 7 Dumbest Big Purchases People Make <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-7-dumbest-big-purchases-people-make" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="couple tv shopping" title="couple tv shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Retail therapy is no myth. Psychologists have found that there's a real science behind the burst of joy we feel when we <a href="">treat ourselves with a big, exciting purchase</a> &mdash; no matter how impractical it may be.</p> <p>Unfortunately, buyer's remorse also exists. Once the newness wears off, our prized purchase sometimes <a href="">becomes just another thing</a> in the pile of stuff that occupies so much of the space in our lives. We begin to compare it to other things like it that we don't have. A faster sports car. A bigger jacuzzi. The latest cell phone upgrade. And just like that our big buy loses its luster.</p> <p>Some items are prone to invoke buyer's remorse. Typically these items are just downright absurd, yet we've convinced ourselves that they're an important, practical, or smart purchase anyway. Thanks to the mistakes of thousands of consumers before us, we've been able to identify a few of them for you. (See also: <a href="">What Is Your Financial Kryptonite and How to Conquer It</a>)</p> <p>Read on for our list of the top seven purchases that are sure to leave you wallowing in your own tears of regret.</p> <h2>1. 3D TVs</h2> <p>The majority of <a href="">3D television owners regret their purchase</a>. It's not that the technology isn't cool. The leading complaint is that there just isn't enough 3D content to make ownership of one of these futuristic devices worthwhile.</p> <p>More than half the 50 movie titles offered in 3D in 2011 were kids' flicks, while <a href="!beO9si">most blockbuster movie titles opted out</a> of the 3D format altogether. When you're coughing up between $2,000 and $12,000 for the TV plus another couple hundred bucks a pop for the glasses, that's sort of a deal breaker.</p> <p>That leads us to another popular complaint: It can be a major annoyance to wear the glasses that make the third dimension pop. Sort of like wearing your sun shades in the house.</p> <h2>2. Whirlpool Tub</h2> <p>It's a vision of romance: Flower petals, candle light, a bottle of wine &mdash; and then you turn the thing on. Who wants to canoodle with that grumbling sound? Yeah, it's a vision alright.</p> <p>Jacuzzi-style whirlpool tubs can be a real mood killer. Not only are they noisy, they're time consuming to fill with water and prone to completely draining the hot water tank. Plus they're expensive to operate, not to mention expensive to buy and install.</p> <p>Bottom line: Most people don't use them enough to outweigh the negatives.</p> <h2>3. A College Education (No, Really&hellip;.)</h2> <p>Okay, so most people would say a college degree is a smart investment &mdash; but it can certainly be regrettable. A third of millennials say they would have been <a href="">better off working than going to college</a>, according to a Wells Fargo study. The reason? They're drowning in debt.</p> <p>More than half the 1,414 college grads surveyed by Wells Fargo said they afforded their education by taking out hefty student loans that have become the crux of their financial distress. Many said they think they'd have been better off with a less expensive, public education than a much more costly degree from a top-tier school.</p> <p>If given $10,000, more than half of those surveyed said the first thing they would use the money for is to pay off student loans or credit card debt.</p> <h2>4. A Timeshare</h2> <p>The cost of owning a timeshare extends well beyond the mortgage. Annual maintenance fees, property taxes, and special assessments are piled on top &mdash; and they can be quite expensive.</p> <p>Another major gripe among timeshare owners is that it's not always easy to schedule their allotted time at the unit. In fact, it can be downright maddening. Some timeshare contracts have so <a href="">severely misstated the ease in scheduling</a> that several states have passed laws to punish these misrepresentations.</p> <p>Timeshares are also difficult to unload. Few people are interested in purchasing a timeshare in the aftermarket, meaning you're very likely to lose money even if you do find a buyer.</p> <h2>5. A Car They Didn't Research</h2> <p>Nearly a third of all <a href="">motorists regret their most recent car purchase</a>, a consumer watchdog report found. Among the top triggers of dissatisfaction: The car is faulty, it costs more to run than they anticipated, or they simply didn't do enough research.</p> <p>A car is one of the most expensive purchases many of us will ever make. So before pulling the trigger on a flashy sport convertible or a clunker with the little engine that could, experts say it's important to weigh all your options and do your homework.</p> <p>Here are a couple good online resources to get you started: <a href="">Edmund's Guide for First-Time New Car Buyers</a> and <a href="">Popular Mechanic's How to Buy a Used Car Without Getting Burned</a>.</p> <h2>6. High-End Designer Bags, Clothes, and Shoes</h2> <p>Speaking of cars, a Gucci handbag can cost more than the down payment on your vehicle. Ditto that for many designer scarves, furs, and dresses. What you're really paying for is an air of luxury and exclusivity.</p> <p>Many of the clothes and accessories we find to be swoon-worthy at the store, high-end and otherwise, end up spending nearly their entire existence in storage. That's because the average person wears only about <a href="">20% of the clothes in their closet</a>, according to retail specialists.</p> <p>Among the top reasons our garments go unworn? The items no longer seem as unique or important as when first purchased, or we realize it was an impulse buy rather than a smart, practical purchase.</p> <h2>7. A $5,000 Watch</h2> <p>So you got a big promotion at work. Why not reward yourself with a Rolex? You earned it. Plus, what's more practical than a classic timepiece?</p> <p>Ted Jenkins, who co-operates a financial advisory firm focused on generations X and Y, speaks from experience when he says: &quot;Don't do it!&quot;</p> <p>&quot;<a href="">The dumbest purchase I ever made was spending $5,000 on a watch</a>,&quot; Jenkins wrote on his financial literacy blog. &quot;I wore two watches over the course of a year, one that cost $5,000 and one that cost $79. The $5,000 watch was a Panerai and the $79 was a Diesel&hellip; During that year, my compliment ratio was four to one in favor of the $79 Diesel watch. I never really cared that much about brand names and it taught me that nobody else really does as well. Now I don't even wear a watch because my phone can tell time.&quot;</p> <p><em>Have you ever made a big dumb purchase? Please share your experience in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The 7 Dumbest Big Purchases People Make" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Brittany Lyte</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Consumer Affairs Lifestyle Shopping big purchases buying expensive luxuries shopping Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:00:05 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1165663 at Improve Your Social Skills With Highlights From 5 Great TED Talks <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/improve-your-social-skills-with-highlights-from-5-great-ted-talks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="friends socializing" title="friends socializing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="135" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>TED talks have covered so many important topics, but arguably the most important? Social skills. (See also: <a href="">18 Things People With Good Social Skills Never Do</a>)</p> <p>We are social animals&hellip; as long as we're not too busy watching brilliant TED talks to act on what we've learned. So we've put together crib notes containing the main takeaways from 6 exceptional TED talks about social skills.</p> <h2>Speak So People Will Want to Listen</h2> <p><iframe width="605" height="340" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" src="//"></iframe></p> <p>Ever feel as though no one is listening when you speak? Julian Treasure knows why. Treasure warns against the &quot;<a href="">7 deadly sins of speaking</a>&quot; &mdash; gossip, judging, negativity, complaining, excuses, exaggeration, and dogmatism. People who use language conveying those traits are less likely to be taken seriously.</p> <p>The cornerstones of language that commands understanding and respect are Treasure's useful acronym HAIL: Honesty, Authenticity, Integrity, and Love. When you are clear and show care for others, they will listen.</p> <p>We also tend to think about <em>how</em> we say what we say. Our mouths are instruments that attract attention when used well. Remember to warm up your voice and perfect the following:</p> <ol> <li>Register (high voice, low voice)</li> <li>Timbre (smooth and warm voices are more pleasant)</li> <li>Prosody (avoiding monotone)</li> <li>Volume (not too quiet or loud)</li> </ol> <h2>Shape Your Identity With Body Language</h2> <p><iframe width="605" height="340" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" src="//"></iframe></p> <p>Scientist Amy Cuddy suggests you <a href="">do an audit of your body</a>. Are you hunching, wrapping your ankles, or holding your arms? Or are you spread out, with your legs open, or head tilted up? The former are &quot;low power&quot; and the latter are &quot;high power&quot; non-verbal poses and are universal across almost all mammals. Those who are blind use the same poses even though they have never seen anyone else do them.</p> <p>Not surprisingly, human power dynamics are very much influenced by body language. It usually isn't fair. For example, women are much more likely than men to use smaller body movements such as meek shoulders, folded arms, crossed legs. People who do not feel empowered create a self-fulfilling prophecy of social disenfranchisement by using this body language.</p> <p>The key is chemistry. Testosterone and cortisol are big components in how we react with confidence or fold up in fear. Those who were told to hold a high power pose for two minutes experienced a 20% increase in testosterone, and those who held low power poses saw a 10% decrease in testosterone. Similarly with cortisol where high power poses created a 25% decrease in cortisol, while low power poses created a 15% increase in cortisol.</p> <p>Cuddy's tip? Find two minutes a day to do high power poses by yourself before going to work or doing anything high stress, because those who do this are much more likely to do well.</p> <h2>Transform Introversion Into Social Capital</h2> <p><iframe width="605" height="340" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" src="//"></iframe></p> <p>Lawyer and writer Susan Cain points out a fundamental truth: The <a href="">world celebrates boisterous extroverts</a>. However, quiet introverts make helpful contributions to the world that are subtler, but just as important. Most social systems are built for extroversion, especially schools and the workplace &mdash; even though introverts are more knowledgeable and get better grades in class, and take less outsized risks and are welcome to new opinions in the office.</p> <p>Solitude matters and can help us transcend our surroundings to arrive at important epiphanies and revelations. Conversely, people in groups tend to mimic each other's opinions and ideas. Cain recommends contemplating your own ideas alone, then coming to the group with your ideas for more meaning collaboration.</p> <p>Cain suggests these three rules for making the world better for introverts:</p> <ol> <li>Stop the madness for constant group work. Some people need more privacy and autonomy at work and school for deep thought.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Go to the wilderness. Be like the Buddha by taking time to unplug and be alone.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Take a look at what's inside your suitcase. Open up to the world and show people the content of your character and your personality when you can.</li> </ol> <h2>Focus on Friendship First, Then Ideas</h2> <p><iframe width="605" height="340" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" src="//"></iframe></p> <p>Have you ever argued with someone and found it pointless? Television pundit Sally Kohn has heard a lot of remarks about her and her politics, and it led her to a critical realization: We don't spend enough time <a href="">finding common ground before debating ideas</a> with others.</p> <p>Instead of obsessing over what is &quot;politically correct,&quot; Kohn urges us to find our own emotional core in others, what she calls being &quot;emotionally correct.&quot; Basic human compassion is crucial. Kohn uses Sean Hannity as an example. She's a liberal, and he's a staunch conservative, yet Hannity doesn't let what he feels about her beliefs stop him from treating her as a friend. Try emotional correctness by helping someone who doesn't share your beliefs.</p> <h2>Leave Social Media Behind</h2> <p><iframe width="605" height="340" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" src="//"></iframe></p> <p>It's hard to discuss social skills without mentioning social media. People of all ages now use their computers and phones as proxies for face-to-face communication. Psychologist Sherry Turkle talks about the &quot;goldilocks effect&quot; &mdash; our desire to keep people at just the right distance for comfort and avoid the messiness that is in-person human communication.</p> <p>The problem with this is that we need face-to-face socializing in order to be able to function in the real world, especially children. Even parents can't resist the desire to edit, delete, control, and customize their existence, and it's teaching our children bad social habits.</p> <p>Technology appeals to us most where we are the most vulnerable: we are lonely but afraid of intimacy. As a result, we expect more from our devices and less from each other. We should reflect on what online life might be taking away from our experienced life so we can make a more self-aware relationship between ourselves and technology.</p> <p>Sherry Turkle has five suggestions to get back in touch with ourselves and our loved ones:</p> <ol> <li>Make daily attempts to reinforce solitude.</li> <li>Demonstrate the value of unplugged communication to your kids.</li> <li>Create designated &quot;sacred&quot; places in your home free of devices.</li> <li>At work, walk away from computer and talk to coworkers in person.</li> <li>Really <em>listen</em> to people when having a conversation, even the boring bits.</li> </ol> <p><em>Do you have any favorite TED talks on social skills and group behavior? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Improve Your Social Skills With Highlights From 5 Great TED Talks" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Amanda Meadows</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Lifestyle empowerment social skills TED TED talks Thu, 17 Jul 2014 17:00:05 +0000 Amanda Meadows 1158335 at Convert Your Crap Into Cash Without a Garage Sale <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/convert-your-crap-into-cash-without-a-garage-sale" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="girl clothes" title="girl clothes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="151" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all have extra stuff lying around that we'd love to pawn off for cash &mdash; in theory. But let's face it. Organizing a garage sale can be sort of like planning a dinner party without the payoff of good friends, good conversation, and a couple of refreshing gin and tonics. All that sorting and polishing and sticker-tagging and sign-making &mdash; not to mention the time you'll spend trying to shoo the neighbor who wants to take home your kid's $500 barely used air hockey table for 20 bucks &mdash; and you might not even earn enough to cover your expenses for that bottle of upholstery cleaner. (See also: <a href="">Have Your Best Yard Sale Ever</a>)</p> <p>Fortunately, it's true what they say: One man's trash is another man's treasure. The trick to making this maxim work for you is finding the right platform that will put your well-cared-for Coach purse before the eyes of fashionistas who deeply value the absence of scratch marks on the leather strap.</p> <p>The Internet is a brilliant resource for reaching your best-bet buyers. So is your flesh-and-blood network of family and friends. Here's our guide to getting the biggest bang for your leftovers and unwanteds using the basics of target marketing. It's all about finding your niche.</p> <h2>1. Clothing</h2> <p>The founder of <a href="">ThreadFlip</a> launched the up-and-coming online marketplace for second-hand garments and accessories two years ago after taking a peek at his wife's cluttered closet. What struck him was that most of the overflow was comprised of perfectly fashionable, cared-for pieces that she never even wears. When he asked his wife and other women why they hold on to clothing they know they'll never put on, they gave him the same answer: &quot;<a href=";_type=blogs&amp;_r=0">It's too hard to do anything else with them</a>.</p> <p>Sites like eBay and Etsy work great, too, but ThreadFlip offers the added benefit of a niche audience. This is fashionistas selling to other fashionistas, so you're bound to rake in more cash for those peach-colored stilettos than if you were to try and hawk them on a generalized resale site. (Another excellent option for pre-owned luxury clothing and accessories is <a href="">Portero</a>).</p> <p>When you sell on ThreadFlip, the site helps you lure in buyers by marketing your items with high resolution photos. (If you're clumsy with a camera, you can fork over a higher percentage of your earnings and the company will handle the photography for you.) Once you hook a buyer, an empty box arrives at your doorstep. Simply fill it with the items you've sold and call for a pickup. ThreadFlip will ship the box directly to the buyer, and for this the site takes a 20% cut of the sale.</p> <h2>2. Furniture</h2> <p>It's not easy &mdash; nor cheap nor in any way desirable &mdash; to sell a couch by mail. Sites that facilitate resale transactions with buyers right in your local community are your best bet for larger items, like furniture, swing sets, and pinball machines, that are too cumbersome for the postal service.</p> <p>While Craigslist is well-known, <a href="">Krrb</a> (pronounced &quot;curb&quot;) is a newer hyperlocal classifieds platform that's on the rise in popularity. The 75,000-member online consignment boutique caters to the bargain hunter with sophisticated taste. High-end furniture pieces go for anywhere <a href="">between $800 and $10,000</a> depending on condition and style. Recent listings include a Victorian aquarium, 19th century furnishings, and a vintage mahogany sideboard. There's also <a href="">a pair of taxidermy goats</a> that's going for $1,500.</p> <p>In most cases, the buyers on sites like Craigslist and Krrb are willing to come to you. And it's on them to hire a truck to transport the antique bed and night stands. All you have to do is hold out your hand. Ahh, how good it feels to have a fistful of cold, hard cash.</p> <h2>3. Electronics</h2> <p>Here's the good news: Amazon will buy your old electronics in exchange for money to spend on Amazon. And considering the breadth and depth of the Amazon marketplace, credit for this online shopping site is nearly as good as cash.</p> <p>It works like this: Check the <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=2226766011&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=WVMW4DSEZF3VHV4Y">trade-in page</a> to see if your old cell phone or video game console is eligible for the gift-card program. (Books are also applicable.) Then package up your gadgets and send them off to Amazon. The company will even pay for the shipping. Once the company receives the items, your Amazon account will be credited in about two business days.</p> <p>Amazon doesn't have a monopoly on the electronics trade-in industry, although its service in this department is streamlined and immensely easy. Still, there are other options to explore. <a href="">Nextworth</a> and <a href=";u=255320&amp;m=45652&amp;urllink=&amp;afftrack=">Gazelle</a> offer similar trade-in programs with an added benefit: They'll actually send you a check for your outdated iPad. On the downside, Nextworth can often take upwards of 10 days to reimburse you while Gazelle tends to lowball its offering price.</p> <h2>4. Valuables That Aren't Selling Online</h2> <p>There are certain items you won't want to part with unless you're getting what they're worth. Diamond earrings. The teak end-table. Those leather boots you bought on your honeymoon in Italy. You know they are high-value items, even if the bid amounts on your eBay auction suggest otherwise.</p> <p>Chances are that at least some of your friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors share in your taste and would love to go on a shopping spree at your house. So why not let them? Simply price the items you want to sell and invite a group of people over to browse.</p> <p>Or, take a hint from the minimalist, world-traveling duo Warren and Betsy Talbot and host a <a href="">Reverse Birthday Party</a>. The next time your birthday comes around, examine the stuff in your house and stick price tags on all those beautiful, loved items that you could only bear to part with for a fair price. Then invite over the friends and family members you know will appreciate just as you do that antique farmhouse spinning wheel or the cutesy Christmas china set and let 'em loose. In lieu of gifts, your guests will be doing you a favor by spending that gift money &mdash; and then some, if all goes to plan &mdash; on all that exquisite stuff you need to part with in order to declutter your life.</p> <p>Take whatever's left over to a brick-and-mortar consignment shop.</p> <p><em>How have you turned your old stuff into cash without bothering with a yard sale? Please share your secrets in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Convert Your Crap Into Cash Without a Garage Sale" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Brittany Lyte</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Consumer Affairs Lifestyle Shopping consignment declutter garage sale selling used yard sale Thu, 17 Jul 2014 15:00:05 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1160270 at 14 Things Good Hosts Never Do <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/14-things-good-hosts-never-do" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="party host" title="party host" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="144" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I throw a couple parties a year and host overnight guests regularly as an <a href="">Airbnb host</a>, but I'm far from the host with the most. Still, I strive to be better. That's why I polled a few friends and experts to see what's on their list of party fouls that a good host would never commit. (See also: <a href="">Don't Ruin the Party: 11 Things Good Guests Never Do</a>)</p> <h2>1. Expect Gifts</h2> <p>I don't expect anyone to bring me a gift when I'm hosting &mdash; and, honestly, I'd rather they didn't bring a gift unless it's something consumable (who needs more <em>stuff</em>?), and I'm not alone. Relationship and etiquette expert April Masini, author of the critically acclaimed online advice column <a href="">Ask April</a>, agrees. &quot;Good hosts will never insist on gifts. It's great to celebrate your birthday, anniversary or impending nuptials, but insisting or expecting gifts is greedy and bad form. That's not to say you shouldn't be gracious when you do receive presents, but if you're throwing an event to celebrate yourself, make sure the focus is on the celebration &mdash; not the bounty.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Let the Guests Fend for Themselves for Household Necessities</h2> <p>Susan Callender, founder of <a href="">Oh! My Gauche</a>, a service dedicated to social savvy and professional skills, says that good hosts will always have information on guest amenities &mdash; like password-protected Wi-Fi, washer/dryer, iron and ironing board, etc. &mdash; available where the guest can easily find them, like in a binder or folder in the guest bedroom. You also can add take-out menus, your home address and phone number (I doubt they have it memorized), and tourism information about your area if you'd like. It'll make the guest's stay hassle-free and more enjoyable.</p> <h2>3. Request That Guests Bring Something (Unless They Insist)</h2> <p>Whitney L. Smith, owner of the lifestyle blog <a href="">Pumps &amp; Circumstance</a>, thinks it's rude for hosts to ask guests to bring an item to any event other than a potluck. &quot;I love entertaining, and one of the things I don't think is proper for a host to do is to request that guests bring something,&quot; she says. There is an exception, however: &quot;If guests <em>offer</em> to bring something it's OK to request ice or beverages, but to ask them to bring food is a no-no.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Let Guests Clean Up</h2> <p>The trash needs to go outside, your guest is on her way outside. Makes sense, right? Wrong. If they offer, great, but otherwise, hosting is not about efficiency; it's ultimately about providing a service to others.</p> <h2>5. Require Guests to Pay Unexpectedly</h2> <p>Maybe you're young, maybe you don't read Wise Bread enough and don't have the savings to throw a party where everything's covered. That's okay. But it needs to be made clear to your guests beforehand.</p> <h2>6. Make a Scene If Someone Brings an Unapproved +1</h2> <p>Gwendolyn Mulholland, owner of the family blog <a href="">Finding Sanity in Our Crazy Life</a>, suggests that hosts suck it up and keep their mouths shut about a guest who brought a date when plus-ones weren't expected. I agree with her &mdash; there's nothing you can do about it now, short of kicking them out, and you don't want to hurt anybody's feelings, do you?</p> <p>However, to the guest who does this &mdash; you should consider yourself lucky when your host doesn't make a scene. Consider that the extra person could throw off the dynamic of the room, especially if guests were invited based on compatibility. Also, the host prepared food for the invited guests, not the surprise guest. What if he or she doesn't like what's being served? What if the host doesn't have enough food? There are a few invariables here that you really don't want to tilt too far. (See also: <a href="">Quick Pantry Snacks for Uninvited Guests</a>)</p> <h2>7. Allow Anyone Underage to Drink</h2> <p>Advice columnist April Masini chimes in again with another really excellent tip: &quot;Good hosts never encourage underage guests to drink,&quot; she reminds us. &quot;Forget being the cool parent or the cool family friend. If there are underage teens and young adults at your home, you are responsible for what you serve them, and even if their parents say it's okay, it's your house, your rules. You'll save yourself a bundle of hassle if there's a potential accident that you are responsible for by serving underage guests, and if there isn't, you've set the standard at your house and everyone will know for next time. Better safe than sorry.&quot;</p> <h2>8. Run Out of Food and Drinks</h2> <p>When I host parties, I abide by the rule of seconds &mdash; I buy enough food for every guest to have them. Of course, some guests won't have seconds, so there may be a generous amount of food left (par for the course; it's always better to have more than enough than not enough), in which case you can do a few things:</p> <ul> <li>Send guests home with a plate for later.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Pack the leftovers for lunch.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Donate the food to a local organization whose volunteers might enjoy the home-cooked or catered food.</li> </ul> <h2>9. Neglect to Clean and Properly Stock the Bathroom Prior</h2> <p>Now we're getting into serious territory. If you've failed to stock your bathroom with the necessary essentials, you may very well embarrass the person who needs to call someone to bring the TP. Can you imagine? I'd die of humiliation and then come back to life as the ghost that haunts that terrible host forever. Also, there's this related tip from a friend: &quot;A good host would never invite someone over when their toilet is clogged. Been to a house party like that. Awful, awful experience.&quot; Let's leave it at that.</p> <h2>10. Stash Away the Good Bottle of Wine That the Guest Brought</h2> <p>&quot;A good host should always open a nice bottle of wine that a guests brings to a dinner or party,&quot; says Kelsey Graves founder of the party-inspiration site We Heart Parties. &quot;It is not polite to keep the nice bottle for yourself. Be sure to open it and share it with your guests.&quot; Another way to put it is: Stop being stingy, you lush!</p> <h2>11. Serve Themselves First</h2> <p>Let your guests have first dibs on the food that you've prepared &mdash; just like your grandmother did; she didn't eat until everybody else was fed, remember?</p> <h2>12. Allow Pets to Annoy Guests</h2> <p>I love dogs &mdash; I have a dog myself &mdash; but my husband and I take measures to ensure that he won't annoy guests when we host an event. For shorter gatherings, like a brunch at our house, he's fine in our bedroom for a couple hours. But for longer parties &mdash; like around the holidays &mdash; it's best for us to send him to daycare for the night where he can play with his furry friends while our guests can enjoy themselves without an animal begging for food or attention.</p> <h2>13. Fail to Introduce Guests Who Don't Know Each Other</h2> <p>If the party is heavy on mixed company, it's the host's job to acquaint everyone at the beginning. Make a habit of making introductions as soon as a guest arrives, so you don't get preoccupied, forget about the person, and let him fend for himself. Some people just aren't comfortable going up to strangers and making small talk. Not that I'm at all bitter or speaking from personal experience, of course.</p> <h2>14. Invite the Wrong Mix of People</h2> <p>If you're inviting a mixed bag of people who don't necessarily know each other, it's wise to consider the potential compatibility of guests as well, especially for a sit-down event or an overnight excursion.</p> <p>I tend to invite singles that I think might compliment each other and couples with similar interests. For an intimate dinner, for example, I'm definitely not inviting my very religious friends to dine with my LGBT-activist friends. While I'm all for rousing dinner conversation, there are some things better left unsaid. It also wouldn't be very fun for a single friend to attend an event filled with only couples. While not every person will become besties, you at least want the group to enjoy each other's company for a couple hours.</p> <p><em>What are some things that you think good hosts should never do? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="14 Things Good Hosts Never Do" 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> Entertainment Lifestyle dinner entertaining guests host party pot luck Thu, 17 Jul 2014 11:00:04 +0000 Mikey Rox 1160904 at