tools http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/8339/all en-US Best Money Tips: 22 Clever New Uses for Your Tools http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-22-clever-new-uses-for-your-tools <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-22-clever-new-uses-for-your-tools" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_holding_drill_000016813714.jpg" alt="Woman finding clever new uses for her tools" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some great articles clever new uses for your tools, reasons why you&rsquo;re addicted to Facebook, and ways that decluttering will improve your health.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.familyhandyman.com/tools/clever-new-uses-for-your-tools">22 Clever New Uses for Your Tools</a> &mdash; Try using a flexible pick-up tool to yank out the gunk that is clogging your sink. [The Family Handyman]</p> <p><a href="http://www.lifehack.org/233325/5-psychological-reasons-you-are-addicted-facebook-and-5-ways-break-the-habit">5 Psychological Reasons You Are Addicted to Facebook and 5 Ways to Break the Habit</a> &mdash; Do you refresh your Facebook feed obsessively? A fear of missing out may be at work here.&nbsp;[Lifehack]</p> <p><a href="http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/How-Cleaning-Can-Improve-Your-Health-37956421">4 Ways Decluttering Will Improve Your Health</a> &mdash; Having messy, unfinished projects around you can lead to depression. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://www.moneytalksnews.com/midyear-checkup-8-steps-finish-2015-fiscally-fit/">Midyear Checkup: 8 Steps to Finish 2015 Fiscally Fit</a> &mdash; Are you on track for a financially good year? Be sure to grab a free copy of your credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com &mdash; check for errors and look for ways to raise your score. [Money Talks News]</p> <p><a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Saving-Money/2015/0724/Should-you-take-the-free-Windows-10-upgrade">Should you take the free Windows 10 upgrade?</a> &mdash; The free upgrade will be available for at least a year, so it makes sense to wait a while for Microsoft to work out any bugs before you download. [The Monitor]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.dumblittleman.com/2015/07/7-great-foods-boost-brain-power.html">7 Great Foods to Boost Your Brain Power</a> &mdash; Oregano can increase cognitive processing performance and alertness. [Dumb Little Man]</p> <p><a href="http://www.stevenaitchison.co.uk/blog/12-simple-ways-stop-worrying-people-think">12 Simple Ways to Stop Worrying What Other People Think of You</a> &mdash; Even if someone is judging you, do they really matter in your life? If they don't matter, then you don't need to care what they think. [Change Your Thoughts]</p> <p><a href="http://sustainablog.org/2015/07/5-steps-to-going-paperless-when-you-arent-used-to-digital/">5 Steps To Going Paperless When You Aren&rsquo;t Used To Digital</a> &mdash; When you have a lot of storage, you'll find a way to fill them up. Reduce your paper storage by half, and keep reducing every few months until you're paperless! [Sustainablog]</p> <p><a href="http://afewshortcuts.com/2015/07/7-frugal-ways-to-decorate-a-dorm-room/">7 Frugal Ways to Decorate a Dorm Room</a> &mdash; Decorate your dorm room with fresh accents like pine cones, branches, and flowers. When you want to change things up, just go outside and collect new materials! [A Few Short Cuts]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/5-rules-i-wish-were-posted-at-the-pool">5 Rules I Wish Were Posted At The Pool</a> &mdash; It seems that yelling is inevitable when kids and pools are involved, but if you need to yell across the pool more than three times, it's probably time to go home. [Parenting Squad]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amy-lu">Amy Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-22-clever-new-uses-for-your-tools">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-awesome-useful-gifts">25 Awesome, Useful Gifts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/screwdrivers-to-saws-stocking-your-first-toolbox">Screwdrivers to Saws: Stocking Your First Toolbox</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-wonderful-household-uses-for-essential-oils">13 Wonderful Household Uses for Essential Oils</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-really-easy-ways-to-unclog-drains">10 Really Easy Ways to Unclog Drains</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-free-or-cheap-toys-that-will-make-your-kid-smarter">14 Free or Cheap Toys That Will Make Your Kid Smarter</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY best money tips tools Mon, 27 Jul 2015 19:00:12 +0000 Amy Lu 1502885 at http://www.wisebread.com 27 Things You Should Have in Your Utility Drawer http://www.wisebread.com/27-things-you-should-have-in-your-utility-drawer <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/27-things-you-should-have-in-your-utility-drawer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/measuring_tape_000050146530.jpg" alt="Woman with measuring tape kept in utility drawer" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You know the kitchen drawer &mdash; the one with an interesting assortment of odds and ends? Well at some point, the &quot;utility drawer&quot; often turns into the &quot;junk drawer.&quot; And if yours is bordering on being more of a scrapbook, maybe this is the time to clean it out and stock it with some really practical items.</p> <p>The well-stocked drawer is going to contain some very tiny items, as well as some rather unwieldy ones, so start by investing in <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002RL9CYK/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B002RL9CYK&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=I3EON6AAYU72JPZR">divider trays</a>. Next, begin collecting tiny tins (think empty Altoids containers) for some of the smaller items below. If you own a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005TJMC0S/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B005TJMC0S&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=4NN7YQK74AYL3G7D">label printer</a>, you can really make your drawer look spiffy &mdash; but masking tape and a marking pen will work, too. &quot;Found items&quot; like clean, empty tuna cans, old muffin tins, or even ice-cube trays are helpful for sorting the goods.</p> <p>Then it's time to stock up on the following.</p> <h2>1. Flashlight</h2> <p>Probably one of the most important items in your utility drawer, and it needn't be bulky. For Christmas, my husband just got me one of these powerful, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BA5BM8I/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B00BA5BM8I&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=64AQH52KYQW4HR62">tiny LED flashlights</a>. It takes up very little room, but boy, does it throw a big light.</p> <h2>2. Batteries</h2> <p>I keep an assortment of all sizes in the drawer, since you never know what you'll need.</p> <h2>3. Barbeque Lighter</h2> <p>These <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000UONR4M/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B000UONR4M&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=YTLJ6GVOBLNKQ3AG">long lighters</a> aren't only for the barbeque. I use mine to light my gas stove, candles, or the outdoor fireplace. When the power goes out, this is one of the first things I grab.</p> <h2>4. Tape Measure</h2> <p>I like both the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004SILEXM/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B004SILEXM&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=FEUV2C7LLP2CSQOL">retractable tape measures</a> and the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005KMMOK2/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B005KMMOK2&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=XRTJ5BQDLVO73YSR">flexible tape measures</a> that you use for sewing. I also have the freebie paper tape from Ikea, which is really handy.</p> <h2>5. Band-Aids</h2> <p>Keeping Band-Aids in the kitchen makes more sense than the bathroom, to me. There I'll be, slicing away, and oops! So having an assortment of Band-Aids right there in the utility drawer is pretty handy.</p> <h2>6. Safety Pins</h2> <p>Wardrobe malfunction right before work? Grab a safety pin. Buy a box of pins in assorted sizes.</p> <h2>7. Sewing Kit</h2> <p>Lose a button, or is a hem coming out? I love this <a href="http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/real-simple-sewing-kit/1017916297?mcid=PS_googlepla_nonbrand__&amp;adpos=1o3&amp;creative=39230263429&amp;device=c&amp;matchtype=&amp;network=g&amp;gclid=CjwKEAjw0LmoBRDHuo7UkaKXhn8SJADmDTG0XYJnNNX9v5cW5-Fl3evxasugzs8YsIVmTttkmaYl3BoCkvfw_wcB">zippered sewing kit</a> that keeps everything in one place.</p> <h2>8. Eyeglass Repair Kit</h2> <p>Do you, or does a family member, wear glasses? If so, this little <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000RB7B72/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B000RB7B72&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=YL2HEAKRYOHRVWM2">eyeglass repair kit</a> will be a lifesaver. We even bring our kit on vacations.</p> <h2>9. String or Twine</h2> <p>I like this food-safe <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000ST1EW6/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B000ST1EW6&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=ET4HFGYQUYGCVCQM">cooking twine</a>. Tie a plumb-bob to the string end and get a straight edge for hanging wallpaper. String is one of those things you don't know you need until you need it.</p> <h2>10. Mini-Hammer</h2> <p>I could not live without my mini-hammer. It cracks nuts, pounds tough meat, and hangs pictures. They are nice for little hands when kids want to &quot;help daddy,&quot; too.</p> <h2>11. Pliers</h2> <p>Ideally, your toolbox will contain a larger assortment, but a small pair of pliers are great to have in the drawer for emergencies.</p> <h2>12. Duct Tape</h2> <p>My favorite use is to get rid of pet hair, but here are 10 other <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-great-ways-to-use-duct-tape">great uses for duct tape</a>.</p> <h2>13. Deck of Cards</h2> <p>I recently learned to play Texas Hold 'Em, which turned out to be a lot of fun and a great way to kill time. Of course, I had a deck of cards handy in that utility drawer. If the power goes out, light a votive candle and deal 'em, pardner.</p> <h2>14. Matches</h2> <p>I like to keep two types in the drawer: book matches and stick matches. If you live somewhere humid, the book matches can fail you. Store in a plastic bag.</p> <h2>15. Screwdriver</h2> <p>This is another &quot;must-have.&quot; I like this <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002I3TDP0/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B002I3TDP0&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=OF6O2VVEYQESS7EZ">ratcheting screwdriver</a> that has the multiple bits.</p> <h2>16. Utility Knife</h2> <p>Also known as an &quot;X-acto knife&quot; or a &quot;boxcutter,&quot; these are hugely practical. Keeping one in the utility drawer ensures I won't be tempted to use one of my good kitchen knives when a box is delivered.</p> <h2>17. Votive Candles</h2> <p>I'm not a big &quot;candles-as-atmosphere&quot; person, but when the power is out, votives are the greatest. Not only are they inexpensive, but you can also buy unscented ones. I also own some of the &quot;flameless&quot; candles, but they don't have a long life &mdash; so for disaster preparedness, I like real candles.</p> <h2>18. Take-Out Menus</h2> <p>Pizza, anyone? Chinese? Whatever your preference, if you keep your take-out menus in your utility drawer, you are ready to make a phone call. We keep ours in a manila folder so they stay tidy.</p> <h2>19. Tweezers</h2> <p>Sliver? Bones in fish? Thorn in the dog's paw? A pair of tweezers is a great addition to any utility drawer.</p> <h2>20. Nail File</h2> <p>The cheap emery boards will work, but a friend got me hooked on these <a href="http://www.sephora.com/crystal-nail-file-P310307">crystal nail files</a>, which perform so much better. They come in a case, which also makes them much easier to find.</p> <h2>22. Rubber Bands</h2> <p>Keeping rubber bands in your junk drawer makes good sense. How many times have I used only half a bag of frozen peas? Grab a rubber band out of the drawer, seal them up, and send them back into the freezer. Keep them in a Ziploc bag so that they stay tidy and out of the humidity, and they will last longer.</p> <h2>23. Pens and Pencils</h2> <p>Absolutely indispensable and inexpensive. You'll need both in the drawer.</p> <h2>24. Thumb Tacks</h2> <p>I am a big fan of bulletin boards, so naturally I keep thumb tacks around. I prefer push pins, which are easier to dig back out of the cork.</p> <h2>25. Tape</h2> <p>Let's face it &mdash; the drawer is not complete without tape. Stock up.</p> <h2>26. Chip Clips</h2> <p>Keep those chips, crackers, and bags of cereals crispy with clips. I really like binder clips the best, since they clamp more tightly than some of the &quot;clothespin&quot; types. They also take up less room.</p> <h2>27. Glue</h2> <p>I like two types in the drawer &mdash; Super Glue and Elmer's. Both get regular use.</p> <p>Still not inspired to whip that drawer into shape? Then take a fun look at people whose <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/theprotojournalist/2014/08/15/337759135/what-your-junk-drawer-reveals-about-you">utility drawers</a> well, failed. And then get to organizing!</p> <p><em>Is there anything I've forgotten? What's in your jun</em>&hellip;<em> err, </em><em>utility </em><em>drawer?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/marla-walters">Marla Walters</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/27-things-you-should-have-in-your-utility-drawer">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-denim-expert-reveals-why-you-only-need-3-pairs-of-jeans">A Denim Expert Reveals Why You Only Need 3 Pairs of Jeans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-genius-storage-solutions-for-your-garage">12 Genius Storage Solutions for Your Garage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/101-little-things-you-can-fix-right-now">101 Little Things You Can Fix Right Now!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beyond-the-sandcastle-20-great-ways-to-use-a-beach-bucket">Beyond the Sandcastle: 20 Great Ways to Use a Beach Bucket</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-you-speed-up-your-morning-routine-and-get-more-sleep">This Is How You Speed Up Your Morning Routine (and Get More Sleep)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> General Tips Organization junk drawers repairs tools utility drawers Thu, 02 Apr 2015 13:00:10 +0000 Marla Walters 1361032 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Kitchen Gadgets That Aren't Worth the Money http://www.wisebread.com/10-kitchen-gadgets-that-arent-worth-the-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-kitchen-gadgets-that-arent-worth-the-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/garlic-press-Dollarphotoclub_61613548.jpg" alt="garlic press" title="garlic press" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Everyone wants to save time and get creative in the kitchen, but many kitchen tools simply aren't worth the money. Many &quot;new&quot; gadgets are designed for tasks that can be done with tools you already have in your kitchen, and some are just so weird that you'll probably never use them, no matter how gorgeous those turducken popsicles look on the infomercial. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-must-have-kitchen-purchases-under-10?ref=seealso">13 Must-Have Kitchen Purchases Under $10</a>)</p> <p>So check out this list of 10 kitchen gadgets that aren't worth the money, and then maybe just stop watching infomercials altogether.</p> <h2>1. Garlic Press</h2> <p>Go into any home, and you'll probably find a garlic press tucked away in the back of a kitchen drawer. If you've ever used one, you know why. The poor results and the difficult clean up are not worth the money for many people, even professional chefs. Once you press the clove, most of it turns into a liquid paste that you can't use, and then you have to try to figure out how to salvage what little is left once it goes through the press.</p> <p>It's quicker and cleaner to mince the garlic with a sharp knife. The same goes for a garlic peeler. You can get the same result with a knife. Gently crush the clove with the broad side of a large knife, and the peel comes right off. Then you only have to clean one tool instead of two.</p> <h2>2. Zester</h2> <p>No zester I have tried has never given me the results that you see in the pictures from food magazines. Either use a vegetable peeler, or if you need a finer grade, use the finer side of your cheese grater.</p> <h2>3. Wire Cheese Slicer</h2> <p>I've actually owned two of these. One was a gift, and the other I bought after the first one broke. They always break. You're better off slicing cheese with a knife, especially harder cheeses. If you want thinner slices, you can use non-waxed dental floss and get the same effect.</p> <h2>4. Egg Poacher</h2> <p>While a microwave egg poacher might be worth the money if you are in a hurry and want a quick breakfast, metal egg poachers are a huge waste of money. They are designed to be placed in the bottom of a pot of water, but if you are going to go to the effort of boiling water, you are better off just poaching your eggs the traditional way. The eggs typically get stuck to the metal unless you use a lot of butter, and trying to get the pan out of the boiling water without burning yourself is nearly impossible.</p> <p>Poaching eggs isn't that difficult once you get the hang of it. The trick is keeping the yolk intact when you crack the egg into the water (fresh eggs are ideal for poaching since the yolks tend to hold up better). If you have a slotted spoon, you can easily remove the egg from the water when it's done.</p> <h2>5. Nutribullet</h2> <p>I've never owned one of these, but a friend of mine bought one and said it broke after a few uses. She also said it took too long to grind the food and even longer to clean after use. Plus, you lose a lot of the nutrients because it removes all the fibrous material. Most people buy these to save space, but if you are serious about juicing, look for a traditional juicer. You get more of the fiber and nutrients, and they tend to be more reliable and last longer.</p> <h2>6. Cake Pop Molds</h2> <p>I may be slightly biased on this one since I've never understood the concept of a cake pop. Why not just make a cake? But they can be fun for parties and for children. However, keep in mind that they are not as easy to make as it sounds. I looked up several reviews of different brands, and most people said it took them several tries before getting the right consistency. The pops also stick to the pan more often than not, so unless you really want to make cake pops all the time, it's not worth the money or effort to make them for one or two parties.</p> <h2>7. Electric Can Opener</h2> <p>I have to admit, I grew up with one of these, and they can be handy. But manual can openers are made with smarter designs now, making them easier and safer to use. You can get a decent manual can opener for under $10, and you'll be saving a little counter space.</p> <h2>8. Pickle Grabber</h2> <p>In theory, these are a great idea. But you could also save your money and just use a fork to get that last pickle out of the jar.</p> <h2>9. Strawberry Stem Remover</h2> <p>Yes, as the name suggests, this tool is designed solely to remove strawberry stems, but some people also use it to remove the tops of tomatoes, too. You can also do this easily with a serrated knife, or provide a dual use for your grapefruit spoon (which is actually handy gadget if you eat a lot of grapefruit).</p> <h2>10. Pepper Prepper</h2> <p>Of all the items on this list, I think this one has to be the biggest waste of money. This tool is designed to remove the cap of the pepper and the ribs and seeds from the middle. You can do that just as easily by cutting around the middle in four slices, which also takes care of the next part of the prep work. If you are making stuffed peppers, I can see how this item might be appealing. But again, you can easily carve out the cap with a knife and remove the innards by hand and only need to clean one tool.</p> <p><em>What kitchen gadget do you own but rarely use? Please warn us in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-watson">Ashley Watson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-kitchen-gadgets-that-arent-worth-the-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-must-have-kitchen-purchases-under-10">13 Must-Have Kitchen Purchases Under $10</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-10-items-to-borrow">The Best 10 Items to Borrow</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-laundry-detergents">The 5 Best Laundry Detergents</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-awesome-useful-gifts">25 Awesome, Useful Gifts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-the-best-stuff-at-homegoods">How to Find the Best Stuff at HomeGoods</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Shopping gadgets kitchen tools utensils Fri, 13 Feb 2015 12:00:05 +0000 Ashley Watson 1289196 at http://www.wisebread.com 12 Genius Storage Solutions for Your Garage http://www.wisebread.com/12-genius-storage-solutions-for-your-garage <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-genius-storage-solutions-for-your-garage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000041840182_Large.jpg" alt="woman garage bike" title="woman garage bike" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>One of my favorite features of my new home is an oversized double attached garage. I'm in storage heaven in there, but I know I could be using the space better to accommodate all my different needs. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-genius-kitchen-storage-solutions?ref=seealso">15 Genius Kitchen Storage Ideas</a>)</p> <p>Below you'll find a number of ideas &mdash; from broad to specific &mdash; that will help you use your garage space better. Feel free to share your own solutions in the comments.</p> <h2>1. Pipe Rack</h2> <p>A few small pieces of PVC pipe can go a long way toward making <a href="http://www.ashbeedesign.com/2012/05/organizing-tools-with-pvc.html">smart tool storage</a> that will hold up for years to come. The author of this project cut angled pieces of PVC from scraps she had around the house. You can also head to the hardware store and ask an associate to make six inch cuts for you. Then mount and label.</p> <h2>2. Gutter Genius</h2> <p>I've seen a lot of <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ZwPjpdMjZqk/Uh_yk82mm-I/AAAAAAAAHSs/ym1-DXbl8Cg/s1600/garage+p.jpg">gutter shelf projects</a> for the home, but what's more perfect than making storage shelves for your garage? Go to your hardware store and pick out gutters and end caps in whatever size makes sense for your purpose. Then hang them and fill with paint, caulk, sprays, seeds, whatever.</p> <h2>3. Container Corral</h2> <p>Our attic is full of blown-in insulation, so we don't use it for storage. Instead, we have several rows of basic shelving where we've arranged our plastic containers up and off the ground. For better organization, <a href="http://www.abowlfulloflemons.net/2014/10/garage-organization-part-1.html">label your bins</a> in big, bold letters. I suggest using clear tubs for the most transparency.</p> <h2>4. Mudroom Magic</h2> <p>If you're low on closet space indoors, turn your garage into a <a href="http://www.abowlfulloflemons.net/2014/11/how-to-create-a-garage-mudroom.html">beautiful mudroom</a> with just a few tricks. You'll want some hooks for coats and other apparel. A few hanging baskets to keep umbrellas, bags, and mail in check. The rest is up to you!</p> <h2>5. Peg Rails</h2> <p>This <a href="http://www.marthastewart.com/273114/peg-rail-organizer?xsc=eml_org_2011_03_12">peg-rail organizer</a> is as functional as it is beautiful. You'll hang wooden beams along your wall and then drill holes for your pegs. If you don't have tools or time to do this project yourself, consider buying several long hook or <a href="http://www.amazon.com/s/?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;field-keywords=peg%20rail&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;url=search-alias%3Daps&amp;linkId=Y7H3CNH2JLZXBUYT">peg rails</a> and arranging them in a couple long rows for the same impact.</p> <h2>6. Toy Tamer</h2> <p>There are a lot of different ways you can approach toy cleanup in your garage. I love these <a href="http://orgjunkie.com/2013/05/organizing-concepts-for-kids-garage-toys-free-printable.html">educational ideas</a> that put some responsibility in your child's hands. For example, tall laundry baskets for sport balls; stackable shelving for bubbles, helmets, and pool toys; and brightly taped off areas for bikes and scooters. The key is keeping everything clearly labeled and encouraging your kids to put their stuff away.</p> <h2>7. Hook Hideaway</h2> <p>The minute we moved in, my husband went out and bought a set of inexpensive <a href="http://www.amazon.com/s/?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;field-keywords=gladiator%20hooks&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;url=search-alias%3Daps&amp;linkId=VD6DFRTRB7YIBQWX">Gladiator Hooks</a> at the hardware store. There are a number of different ways you can use them, but he arranged them on the studs to get bikes, skis, sleds, folding chairs, and other outdoor items off the floor.</p> <h2>8. Pegboard Pal</h2> <p>One of the best things you can get for your garage (or basement) is a pegboard. After you figure out how high you want to hang your board, you'll make the spot and then drill into the studs using wood screws. Don't forget to level! Then buy some hooks and go crazy.</p> <h2>9. Screw Central</h2> <p>Our garage also serves as our tool storage area. We had inherited an old tool bench at our last house where the original owner had <a href="http://www.chezlarsson.com/myblog/2009/02/screw-organizing.html">organized his screws</a> by placing them in small jars. The cool part? All the tops of the jars were glued (or screwed) to the bottom of a shelf for easy keeping. It's a simple project with big impact.</p> <h2>10. Bungee Corner</h2> <p>Stash all your soccer balls, basket balls, and kick balls in one space <a href="http://100things2do.blogspot.ca/2013/08/organization-ball-storage.html">using bungee cords</a>. The cost of this project was a mere $2. You'll need a wooden frame for the top and bottom of your zone. Then four or five bungee cords stretched between the posts will hold things tightly together.</p> <h2>11. Shoe Win</h2> <p>Those <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001F51AHG/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B001F51AHG&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=P4Y2XDFB63JTZIIU">plastic shoe organizers</a> work in almost every room, and the garage is no exception. Use it to hold spray paint, golf balls, tools, cleaners, and anything else you have in chaos. You don't even need to hang it over a door. Just nail or screw hooks into the wall or use rope to tie it onto a shelving system.</p> <h2>12. Bike Shelf</h2> <p>I love this simple <a href="http://daily.sightline.org/?attachment_id=21734">DIY bike shelf</a>. Cut notches in a fruit crate to accommodate the top tube of your bike. Mount on your wall. You can use the top shelf to store your helmet or any other gear. (And though this storage device would work great in your garage, it would also be perfect for apartment storage!)</p> <p><em>What's your favorite genius garage storage idea?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-genius-storage-solutions-for-your-garage">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-lose-the-clutter-and-keep-the-memories">9 Ways to Lose the Clutter and Keep the Memories</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-you-declutter-and-keep-your-stuff-too">This Is How You Declutter and Keep Your Stuff, Too</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/organize-a-room-for-10-with-no-extra-effort">Organize a Room for $10 with No Extra Effort</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-downsize-and-declutter">How to Downsize and Declutter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-things-in-your-closet-you-can-throw-out-today">15 Things in Your Closet You Can Throw Out Today</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Organization clutter garage gardening storage tools Fri, 06 Feb 2015 12:00:07 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1285072 at http://www.wisebread.com 16 Home Purchases for Under $10 That Are Well Worth the Money http://www.wisebread.com/16-home-purchases-for-under-10-that-are-well-worth-the-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/16-home-purchases-for-under-10-that-are-well-worth-the-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man-hanging-laundry-clothesline-78630963-small.jpg" alt="man hanging laundry" title="man hanging laundry" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I spend a lot of my time mulling over the large purchases in my life. And for good reason. Still, I tend to forget about the small, everyday things that matter most and have the power to make life a whole lot easier.</p> <p>The following household items are extremely useful and &mdash; better yet &mdash; each costs less than $10.</p> <h2>1. Chip Clips</h2> <p>I don't know why it took me so long to purchase a set of inexpensive <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005NKJWW4/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B005NKJWW4&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=WKDQUYTOBWG5VSU5">chip clips</a> for our kitchen. We end up using them for far more than just sealing bags for freshness. Use magnetic clips to stick to-do lists and bills up on your refrigerator &mdash; you'll save the $10 you spent to buy them in avoided late fees.</p> <h2>2. Reusable Coffee Filter</h2> <p>If you're a coffee-addict like my husband, you'll want to invest in a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/s/?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;field-keywords=reusable%20coffee%20filter&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;url=search-alias%3Daps&amp;linkId=MW634JLEJIBTZJBX">reusable coffee filter</a> to make your morning brew. You can find one fit most coffee makers on the market for less than $5. In other words, it'll pay for itself in a couple months of use.</p> <h2>3. Compact Fluorescents</h2> <p>Haven't yet switched your bulbs to <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CI88SPQ/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00CI88SPQ&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=CPJP3J577G6NB3W2">compact fluorescents</a>? Now's the time. These bulbs use far less wattage than traditional lights, yet they give off the same amount of glow. They'll last longer, too (the ones in the link are guaranteed for nine years!).</p> <h2>4. Plastic Jar Lids</h2> <p>I'm that person who uses Ball jars for absolutely everything. I can tomatoes in them, I drink from them, I store bulk foods in them, I organize bathroom items (like cotton balls) in them, and I even started freezing foods in them. These <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000BYC4B/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0000BYC4B&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=XWWYNPANXGS2E5UT">plastic jar lids</a> are extremely useful for all these purposes and easy to clean.</p> <h2>5. Dryer Balls</h2> <p>We recently purchased a set of those blue <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008Y3UXFW/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B008Y3UXFW&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=LLNKGAP6NPLZAPJF">PVC dryer balls</a> for less than $5. They fluff clothes naturally and effectively without the chemicals you'll find in dryer sheets. You'll also cut your dry time down, saving you some money on your electric or gas bill.</p> <h2>6. Kitchen Towels</h2> <p>Save hundreds of dollars on paper towels by switching exclusively to cloth. My family switched to this system years ago, and beyond the environmental impact &mdash; cloth just scrubs better than paper. We have a set of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CUFK67A/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00CUFK67A&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=RFS5LQKRR6IJGUO3">simple dish towels</a> that are super absorbent and economical.</p> <h2>7. Ice Cube Tray</h2> <p>I use our silicone <a href="http://www.amazon.com/green-sprouts-Silicone-Freezer-Green/dp/B002F9MUM0/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1415126018&amp;sr=8-11&amp;keywords=silicone+ice+cube+tray">ice cube tray</a> for far more than making ice. Each cube measures 1-ounce, which is the perfect size for freezing herbs, smoothie cubes, coffee cubes, and even making <a href="http://www.neverhomemaker.com/2014/08/diy-natural-lotion-cubes.html">homemade lotion cubes</a>. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-wont-believe-how-much-you-can-save-with-an-ice-cube-tray?ref=seealso">You Won't Believe How Much You Can Save With an Ice Cube Tray</a>)</p> <h2>8. Hanging Basket</h2> <p>You can use a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008UP233O/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B008UP233O&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=2GLWTTG37FILR6FL">3-tiered hanging basket</a> in your kitchen to hold produce like onions and bananas. In your bathroom, the same basket can corral hair products and brushes. It's a basic and cheap organization tool that goes where you need it, when you need it.</p> <h2>9. Clothespins</h2> <p>Use your dryer less by hanging up clothes indoors to dry this season. Nostalgic <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002BWUJ1U/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B002BWUJ1U&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=I7UON2CDK7LPAV3P">wooden clothespins</a> hold clothing in place whether outside or in, but you can use them for a number of other purposes. Hang some string and pin up your child's artwork, keep cords neat and tidy, or use them in your closet to organize accessories.</p> <h2>10. Grocery Tote</h2> <p>By now, most of us have a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JYE2MPY/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00JYE2MPY&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=KKD4GDD6OAZWNU64">reusable grocery bag</a> &mdash; but do you remember to bring yours to the store? We stash our set in the car for easy toting whenever we find ourselves out and about. You'll save some cash on garbage fees by avoiding plastic bags and save the environment at the same time.</p> <h2>11. Fleece Throw</h2> <p>Stop nudging the thermostat up a degree and then another. Toss one of these colorful <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DP4XBGI/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00DP4XBGI&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=63CTITJAB75VZOX7">fleece throws</a> over your reading chair and snuggle up whenever you feel a chill. Layering yourself with warm fabrics is a first line of defense against high utility bills.</p> <h2>12. Water Bottle</h2> <p>Give bottled water the cold shoulder and fill a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001U8L1Y0/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B001U8L1Y0&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=JMW7L4MVLW5OZUTA">reusable water bottle</a> at the tap. You can find bottles in all shapes, sizes, materials, and colors to suit your unique needs. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bottled-or-tap-the-right-choice-for-water-may-surprise-you?ref=seealso">Bottled or Tap: The Right Choice Might Surprise You</a>)</p> <h2>13. Lunch Box</h2> <p>Americans spend nearly $1K annually eating lunches out. Put that money back in your pocket and purchase a smart, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004UISANC/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B004UISANC&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=U2BBDUB5YYKM6HRL">insulated lunch box</a> instead. With a little planning, you'll be eating well on a dime. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-packed-lunch-ideas-youll-want-to-steal-from-your-kids?ref=seealso">10 Packed Lunch Ideas You'll Want to Steal From Your Kids</a>)</p> <h2>14. Flashlight</h2> <p>Put a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005FEGYCO/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B005FEGYCO&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=JF7H5E56JCC5FJ5R">basic flashlight</a> on your shopping list today. Too many of us realize we need one when the lights go out. It's a cheap addition to your home's emergency kit, and even a small one will light your way just fine. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-items-you-might-have-forgot-in-your-emergency-kit?ref=seealso">6 Items You Might Have Forgotten in Your Emergency Kit</a>)</p> <h2>15. Shoe Organizer</h2> <p>Traditionally used for shoes, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HDRVEU8/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00HDRVEU8&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=5SUEWRK6VR7542XF">over-the-door organizers</a> can be repurposed for a variety of organization projects. We have one in our entryway coat closet to keep mittens and hats at bay. Friends of ours have one in their pantry to hold stray things like spices and snack foods. And I love the idea to toss one in the utility closet to hold cleaning supplies.</p> <h2>16. Universal Screwdriver</h2> <p>Most of us don't need an entire set of screwdrivers to get by. Instead, get an <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00009V431/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00009V431&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=7XXV3MXBSY4OYBRV">all-in-one screwdriver</a> for around $5 that boasts flathead and Phillips adapters in different sizes. We keep ours in our kitchen junk drawer for those sneaky everyday tasks.</p> <p><em>What's the most useful household item you have that was under $10? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/16-home-purchases-for-under-10-that-are-well-worth-the-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-genius-storage-solutions-for-your-garage">12 Genius Storage Solutions for Your Garage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-ways-to-make-your-yard-look-awesome-for-under-100">14 Ways to Make Your Yard Look Awesome for Under $100</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-kitchen-gadgets-that-arent-worth-the-money">10 Kitchen Gadgets That Aren&#039;t Worth the Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/screwdrivers-to-saws-stocking-your-first-toolbox">Screwdrivers to Saws: Stocking Your First Toolbox</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-10-items-to-borrow">The Best 10 Items to Borrow</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home $10 purchases household goods tools utility drawer Wed, 12 Nov 2014 22:00:05 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1253728 at http://www.wisebread.com 14 Ways to Make Your Yard Look Awesome for Under $100 http://www.wisebread.com/14-ways-to-make-your-yard-look-awesome-for-under-100 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/14-ways-to-make-your-yard-look-awesome-for-under-100" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/family-playing-yard-80380384-small.jpg" alt="family playing yard" title="family playing yard" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Owning a home can be a lot of work, and it can be costly, especially when you have a sizable property. But there are some basic things you can do to keep your yard looking awesome without spending a ton of cash.</p> <p>Here are 14 things you can do to keep your yard in tip-top shape while spending less than $100.</p> <h2>1. Plant Stuff</h2> <p>A good-looking yard is full of life. Plant some shrubs in your front yard, perhaps even a couple tall bushes to frame your doorway. Buy some different types of flowers and plant them in spots that get good sunlight, and water them frequently. (Consider planting perennials, like roses and mums, which can bloom for multiple seasons.) To get started, you'll want to invest in some decent soil, which can be purchased relatively cheaply at your local home improvement store.</p> <h2>2. Trim Stuff</h2> <p>It's great to have trees, bushes, and plants to give life to your yard, but things can get overgrown if you don't keep an eye on them. Trim any tree branches that are close to your house or over your neighbor's yard. Keep your hedges at a nice, consistent height. Cut away any vines creeping over your fences. You can handle most trimming work with a decent pair of long clippers and a band saw. Cordless, rechargeable hedge trimmers can also be useful and are often available for under $100.</p> <h2>3. Pull Weeds</h2> <p>If you have plants, you will have weeds. And weeds are your enemy. Luckily, they are easy to spot, and usually easily pulled out of flower beds. Use RoundUp or a similar product to kill any weeds in stubborn areas, like along the cracks in your sidewalk and driveway.</p> <h2>4. Rake</h2> <p>Get those leaves up! Leaves on the yard can look pretty for a while, but after a short time they start to block any sun from reaching your grass. A couple good days of raking will do the trick, but you could also blow those leaves away with a gas or battery powered blower.</p> <h2>5. Lay Down Mulch</h2> <p>Putting some mulch in your gardens serves several purposes. A thick layer of mulch makes it harder for weeds to grow, and also protects plant roots from getting scorched by the sun in the summer. Moreover, a good, dark mulch can help make the color from flowers petals really pop. You can get a bag of mulch for just a few bucks, so it's one of the best investments for your yard. Tip: Always buy a bag or two more than you think you might need.</p> <h2>6. Edge</h2> <p>To make things look extra-nice, you'll want to sharpen things up by creating a hard edge between your lawn and garden beds, and along any sidewalks or driveways. You can do this by hand in small areas using a trowel, but it's also worth investing less than $100 in a cordless or gas-powered edger. (Some edgers have replaceable heads that allow you to turn the machine into a weed-wacker or other tool.)</p> <h2>7. Put Up Some Lattice</h2> <p>Some white crisscross lattice can be a good way to cover up unsightly areas. At my house, we had lattice installed near the outdoor steps to my basement, and it has the added effect of preventing small kids from falling over into the stairwell. Vinyl lattice is virtually maintenance-free, and can be purchased for less than $1 per square foot.</p> <h2>8. Power Wash Your House</h2> <p>What's the point of sprucing up your yard if the house looks filthy? After enduring heavy rain, intense sun and other assaults, the exterior of your house is bound to get dirty. Vinyl siding might get stained or discolored, brick and stone walls look dingy, and the roof looks grimey. You can blast your house clean by investing in a good gas-powered washer. It's possible to buy one for under $100, or you could rent one a couple times a year to keep your house looking spiffy.</p> <h2>9. Paint</h2> <p>Look around your house for any faded or peeling spots, and get to work with a few gallons of paint. This won't set you back much, and it's a job most people can do themselves. Pay special attention to things like front doors, window ledges, deck railings, and shutters.</p> <h2>10. Tend to Your Lawn</h2> <p>It's easy to just mow the lawn and forget about it, but if you want one of the nicest yards in the neighborhood, you'll have to do some extra work. Each fall, you'll want to spend some time thatching out any dead stuff &mdash; there are special rakes you can buy at a low price, or even machines to rent. Once that's done, lay down new seed. This may mean you'll have to buy or rent a spreader, but those are usually available for under $100. Bags of seed will run you about $50 each. Water your lawn and feed it fertilizer in the spring. This will ensure your lawn comes up nice, healthy and green.</p> <h2>11. Get an Old Bench</h2> <p>It's amazing how something like a bench can transform a space in someone's yard. It's not too hard to procure an old bench from yard sales and antique shops, and you can spruce it up by sanding out any rough edges and giving it a new paint job. Place the bench under a tree or next to a flower bed to create an awesome sense of place.</p> <h2>12. Get a Birdbath</h2> <p>A birdbath has a similar effect as a bench. They look great when placed next to trees, and it's fun to see how they can attract various species of birds. You can buy a solid birdbath for under $50 at many stores.</p> <h2>13. Build a Firepit</h2> <p>It's really fun to sit out back and enjoy the warmth of a fire on a cool night, and a firepit can be a great accent to any yard. Top-of-the-line firepits can be expensive to install, but you can easily make one yourself using some flat stones and cement or mortar on a gravel surface. (Here's one person who claims to have <a href="http://sharpecreations.blogspot.ca/2011/05/fire-pit.html?m=1" style="text-decoration:none;">built a firepit for only $8</a>.)</p> <h2>14. Dig a Pond</h2> <p>This can be a wonderful addition to any garden, and they aren't too difficult to construct. You can get a small polyethylene liner for less than $100. Just dig and install. (Okay, it's not quite that easy. But it's not a big chore, either.) Over time, you can add some surrounding flowers, lilypads, and fish. You may even attract some frogs and turtles. Those with bigger budgets may want to consider a fountain or waterfall.</p> <p><em>How do you keep your yard looking great, for cheap? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-ways-to-make-your-yard-look-awesome-for-under-100">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/screwdrivers-to-saws-stocking-your-first-toolbox">Screwdrivers to Saws: Stocking Your First Toolbox</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-to-prevent-brown-lawn-spots-from-dog-urine">3 Ways to Prevent Brown Lawn Spots From Dog Urine</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-genius-storage-solutions-for-your-garage">12 Genius Storage Solutions for Your Garage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/diy-home-improvement-10-free-options-for-training-and-advice">DIY Home Improvement: 10 Free Options for Training and Advice</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/like-diy-avoid-these-ten-costly-mistakes">Like DIY? Avoid These 10 Costly Mistakes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home home improvement lawn care tools yardwork Tue, 30 Sep 2014 17:00:06 +0000 Tim Lemke 1221879 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Cool Tool Gifts for Fixer Uppers http://www.wisebread.com/10-cool-tool-gifts-for-fixer-uppers <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-cool-tool-gifts-for-fixer-uppers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/tools-153560388.jpg" alt="toolbelt" title="toolbelt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="181" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It seems like everyone has a home project going on these days, and whether you know someone who is giving a room a facelift or taking on a major remodel, the holidays are the perfect time to gift them the right tool to help in their endeavor. These 10 tools aren't just incredibly cool, they have a wide range of uses. Pick one or two for the DIY-enthusiast on your list, and be sure to add a few to yours as well!</p> <h2>1. Pulverizer</h2> <p>One of the most challenging (and fun) parts of any DIY project is the demolition, and if bustin' stuff up is on your loved one's to-do list, the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000VSSG3O/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000VSSG3O&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=holidaygiftg-20">Stanley FatMax Xtreme55-120 FuBar III</a> will make an excellent gift. This multi-tasker weighs over eight pounds and is balanced perfectly for maximum striking power. Use it to get a start on holiday renovations with its ability to pry, split, bend, and destroy!</p> <h2>2. Oscillating Tool</h2> <p>Designed to make quick work of cutting, scraping, sanding, and more, the oscillator has been on the market for years, originating with the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00B4OCTX2/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00B4OCTX2&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=holidaygiftg-20">top-of-the-line Fein brand</a>. Most DIY experts keep one in their arsenal, since you can buy almost unlimited attachments for unlimited jobs around the home. For those who are watching pennies, the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005JRJE4M/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B005JRJE4M&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=holidaygiftg-20">Dremel MultiMax</a> is a more reasonably priced alternative for handling the same tough jobs of cutting grout and scraping carpet adhesive.</p> <h2>3. Infrared Thermometer</h2> <p>Finding leaks in insulation in your home can be a pain, but with a thermal leak detector (like the one made by <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001LMTW2S/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B001LMTW2S&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=holidaygiftg-20">Black and Decker</a>), it's so fun &mdash; it feels like a game! The handy gadget measures the temperature of surfaces to determine where warm air is escaping; use it on your walls, ceiling, and floors to handle pesky drafts. This tool can also be used for troubleshooting HVAC systems, fridges and freezers, and even car engines!</p> <h2>4. Rechargeable LED Work Light</h2> <p>Most shops have poor lighting, and many work projects take place where there may be no lighting at all. The <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002T4AEGK/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B002T4AEGK&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=holidaygiftg-20">Cooper Lighting LED130 Might-D-Light 80-LED Cordless Light</a> is extremely portable, featuring a hinged &quot;batwing&quot; design for free-standing without a base. (Or use its magnetic feature to stick it to any metal surface!) Pop in Ni-Mh batteries for quick charging at home or on the go with the included AC/DC charging adapters.</p> <h2>5. Racheting Wrench</h2> <p>For when you can't have all of your tools with you, a handy catch-all like the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0042AM7E6/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0042AM7E6&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=holidaygiftg-20">Black and Decker Ratcheting ReadyWrench</a> could save the day (and lots of space!) It's an affordable solution featuring 16 standard and metric, color-coded socket sizes. The regular handyman will find it useful for a number of odd (and not-so-odd jobs), including furniture assembly, car repairs, and home remodeling.</p> <h2>6. Pocket Driver</h2> <p>While most DIY'ers want a gift that represents power and speed, there are times when something modest is in order. The <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003BEE12U/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B003BEE12U&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=holidaygiftg-20">Bosch Pocket Driver Kit</a> is a small driver that can fit into the nooks and crannies that prevent other drivers from working properly, but it provides enough torque to make fast work of most jobs. The handy LED light helps shine a light on your project, and its 20 clutch settings keep it versatile in ever-changing environments.</p> <h2>7. Pocket Hole Joinery System</h2> <p>For the handy man or woman that has everything, a unique gift like the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001DYFISG/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B001DYFISG&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=holidaygiftg-20">Kreg Pocket Hole System</a> may be in order. This unique kit lets even beginner carpenters make perfect joints without glue, clamps, and complicated geometric calculations. Just drill a hole at an angle into one workpiece, and connect it to the other piece with a self-tapping screw. Build cabinets in days instead of weeks, and watch your projects get done!</p> <h2>8. Power Strip</h2> <p>What does the average DIY'er wish they had more of? Power! But finding a place to plug everything in can be a challenge. The <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007X5RERW/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B007X5RERW&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=holidaygiftg-20">Stanley PowerSquid</a> allows you to plug five devices into grounded outlets in any position. A three-foot cord and on/off circuit breaker ensures that your workspace is safe, and this flexible alternative to a regular power strip gives even bulky adapter plugs a place to power up.</p> <h2>9. Sharpener</h2> <p>A dull knife blade isn't just cumbersome, it can be downright dangerous! Gift your favorite handyperson the ability to always stay sharp with the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000O8OTNC/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000O8OTNC&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=holidaygiftg-20">PocketPal Mutifunction Sharpener</a>. This tool can handle both standard and serrated edges, making quick work of a lifeless blade. It's the perfect stocking stuffer for anyone wishing to keep their cutting tools in top-notch condition!</p> <h2>10. Multitool</h2> <p>You don't have to be a Boy Scout to follow the motto of &quot;Be Prepared,&quot; and giving a gift like the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000XU9NXW/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000XU9NXW&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=holidaygiftg-20">Leatherman Skeletool Multitool</a> ensures that your loved one can be ready for anything. This smaller-than-average multitool weighs less than six ounces and packs the following tools into one slick-looking sheath: pliers, needle-nose pliers, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, bottle opener, stainless steel blade, and universal bit driver (with bits).</p> <p><em>Any tools on your wish list? Any DIYers on your gift list?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-cool-tool-gifts-for-fixer-uppers">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/holiday-gifts-for-your-co-workers">20 Gift Ideas for Your Co-Workers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-great-gift-ideas-for-geeky-fanboys-and-fangirls">10 Great Gift Ideas for Geeky Fanboys and Fangirls</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-holiday-gifts-to-give-the-neighbor-you-like">9 Gifts to Give the Neighbor You Like</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-great-holiday-gifts-for-home-cooks">20 Great Gifts for Home Cooks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-holiday-stocking-stuffers-for-techies">10 Holiday Stocking Stuffers for Techies</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Buying Guides buying guide gifts holiday gift guide product reviews tools Wed, 27 Nov 2013 10:48:06 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1098712 at http://www.wisebread.com 25 Awesome, Useful Gifts http://www.wisebread.com/25-awesome-useful-gifts <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/25-awesome-useful-gifts" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/gift-94097581_0.jpg" alt="gift" title="gift" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're like me, you want to give something <em>useful</em> to the people on your list. Here are my ideas for 25 useful yet awesome gifts for almost anyone. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/31-great-gifts-that-keep-on-giving?ref=seealso">31 Gifts That Keep On Giving</a>)</p> <h2>1. Classes</h2> <p>Research says that we <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-money-really-can-buy-happiness">value experiences more than stuff</a> &mdash; why not give an experience that also teaches a lasting skill? From cooking to comedy, knitting to karate, the gift of a class can have long-lasting benefits.</p> <h2>2. Coffee Maker</h2> <p>Even if the person you're shopping for already has a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-coffeemakers">coffee maker</a>, this can still be a great gift. Upgrade their coffee by downgrading their maker from a traditional drip machine to a method that's known for great-tasting coffee, such as a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/french-press-coffee">French press</a> or <a href="http://www.chemexcoffeemaker.com/">Chemex</a>.</p> <h2>3. Food</h2> <p>Food is delicious and, well, necessary to live. I'd say that makes it useful. Give a gift of something your friend likes but rarely buys for herself, such as a nice jar of olives or mustard.</p> <h2>4. Socks and Underwear</h2> <p><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/holusegift-160888132-ggnoads.jpg" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>I know they're often considered synonyms for &quot;boring gift,&quot; but the older I get, the more I appreciate new socks and underwear. I tend to wait a little longer than I should to throw out old socks and underwear, and an influx of new always makes me sort through my drawers and toss the old stuff.</p> <h2>5. Books</h2> <p>This should be pretty self-explanatory. And don't think that books just means new books &mdash; used books can make great gifts too. Look for an old edition of someone's favorite book, or put a few used cookbooks in a gift basket with some...</p> <h2>6. Kitchen Tools</h2> <p>There are tons of useless kitchen devices out there &mdash; you already have a darn quesadilla maker; it's called a pan and spatula. But there are also plenty of useful items that are fun to give and super useful. A few of my favorites include silicone muffin/cupcake wrappers (no more paper to throw away!), bowls with measurements written on them, and the one tool I always have to mention in an article about cooking &mdash; a really <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-chefs-knives">good chef's knife</a>. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-great-holiday-gifts-for-home-cooks?ref=seealso">20 Great Gifts for Home Cooks</a>)</p> <h2>7. Bath and Body&nbsp;Products</h2> <p>My mom is great with this one. I buy myself soap, obviously&nbsp;(I hope that's obvious &mdash; I swear, I keep clean). But come Christmas, my mom almost always gives me some lovely, organic soaps in my favorite scents like mint.</p> <h2>8. A Magazine Subscription</h2> <p>&quot;A gift that keeps on giving&quot; is a tired cliche, but it's true when it comes to magazines. Which, incidentally, can be found for crazy cheap rates. Check out our <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bestdeals">daily deals</a>, which frequently feature magazine subscriptions as low as $4 for a full year.</p> <h2>9. A Haircut</h2> <p><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/holusegift-hair-4277210-small-ggnoads.jpg" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>I really appreciate a decent haircut, especially as a curly haired lady. But I don't go to salons frequently because they can be darn expensive. A gift certificate to a salon &mdash; or even an actual haircut if you're deft with scissors &mdash; is an indulgent, useful gift that can boost self-esteem.</p> <h2>10. Paying Regular Bills</h2> <p>There are many regular services that we have to go out of our way to deal with &mdash; it's annoying that we have to pay for them too. If you're a parent feeling generous with your cash-strapped college kid, this could take the form of paying for your child's phone bill for a month. Or go the extra step and not only pay for an oil change, but actually take your friend's car to the lube joint.</p> <h2>11. Music</h2> <p>Whether it's &quot;old-fashioned&quot; CDs, an iTunes gift card, a <a href="http://www.spotify.com">Spotify</a> Premium account, or something else, music is a gift people can enjoy over and over.</p> <h2>12. Plants</h2> <p>They look nice, they <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-cheap-plants-for-improving-indoor-air-quality">keep the air fresh</a>, and depending on what you get, they can even provide food. Hearty herbs like chives or an aloe plant are always good bets.</p> <h2>13. Babysitting</h2> <p><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/holusegift-kid-brother-4312325-small-ggnoads.jpg" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>Help out parents by offering yourself for babysitting, or ask your favorite babysitter if she'd be willing to provide a voucher for childcare.</p> <h2>14. Organization Tools</h2> <p>It's true &mdash; <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stuff-will-never-make-you-organized">stuff won't make you organized</a>.&nbsp;But it can help. Thrifted baskets, vintage Tupperware, and similar items can make cute, useful gifts...as long as you aren't trying to passive-aggressively suggest that your friend is too messy.</p> <h2>15.&nbsp;Placemats and Other Kitchen Linens</h2> <p>Like with bath and body supplies, this is another area where I find that frugal people often don't want to spend money on themselves. Pretty, colorful floursack towels, a tablecloth, or placemats are useful and can help brighten up a kitchen.</p> <h2>16. Athletic Supplies</h2> <p>Foster a love of fitness with a bicycle, skates, a baseball glove, a pedometer, or even something as simple as a Frisbee.</p> <h2>17. A Camera</h2> <p>I know many of us have cameras on our phones. But for those who don't &mdash; or who value photography beyond what a phone can do &mdash; a camera is a great gift. It provides a hobby and a way to remember great experiences. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-dslr-cameras?ref=seealso">The 5 Best DSLR Cameras</a>)</p> <h2>18. Photos and Frames</h2> <p>Every time I want to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cheap-ways-to-display-your-art">display a photo</a>,&nbsp;I'm shocked by how expensive frames are. Photos of loved ones set in a nice frame is a great gift.</p> <h2>19. Hobby Supplies</h2> <p>These can be for an existing hobby or a hobby a person might want to start. If you have a skill like knitting or cooking, you can bundle together a couple of supplies with an expert lesson from you. It's a great gift and an excuse to hang out.</p> <h2>20. Cleaning</h2> <p><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/holusegift-cleaning-3735519-small-ggnoads.jpg" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>I know about two people who really <em>like</em> to clean. For everyone else, having someone else clean their house &mdash; or even just one room &mdash; is a great gift.</p> <h2>21. Clothes</h2> <p>Hopefully I don't need to tell you that clothes are useful &mdash; even if you don't like them, you have to go out in public <em>sometimes</em>. If you know your giftee well enough to buy something they'd actually wear, this can be a great route.</p> <h2>22. A Nice&nbsp;Glass</h2> <p>If you know someone who enjoys a particular drink, your first thought might be to get them a bottle. But giving them one or two nice glasses appropriate to the beverage is another way to support their interest. This gift isn't just for people who like wine or spirits, either &mdash; Beer Advocate has a nice breakdown of <a href="http://beeradvocate.com/beer/101/glassware">glassware for beer</a>.</p> <h2>23. Coasters</h2> <p>Speaking of those glasses...keep someone's furniture safe from that glassware with fun, functional coasters. There are tons of coasters you can make, including <a href="http://diybydesign.blogspot.com/2012/03/tumbled-marble-coasters-tutorial.html">tumbled marble coasters</a> and these <a href="http://www.bethanyreynolds.com/coasters.html">coasters that fit on wine glasses</a>.</p> <h2>24. Tools</h2> <p>Fuel a (metaphorical) DIY&nbsp;fire with tools. If your child has just moved into his first apartment, a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/screwdrivers-to-saws-stocking-your-first-toolbox">starter toolbox</a> is great (and you might be able to get everything you need for one by hitting a few estate sales). For homeowners who like to take remodeling into their own hands, look to tools that they'd use often enough to justify owning them instead of just renting or borrowing.</p> <h2>25. Money Towards Something</h2> <p>Money is always useful. It can be fun if you attach it a specific purpose &mdash; a fun goal that your giftee is trying to reach, whether it's a trip, a down payment on a house, or even just dinner at a nice restaurant.</p> <p><em>What are your favorite useful gifts?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/meg-favreau">Meg Favreau</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-awesome-useful-gifts">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/gift-giving-hacks-that-will-save-your-money-and-your-sanity">Gift Giving Hacks That Will Save Your Money and Your Sanity</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-thrifty-meaningful-gifts-for-mom">9 Thrifty, Meaningful Gifts for Mom</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-hobby-pay-its-way">Make Your Hobby Pay Its Way</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-diy-magazines-can-help-you-be-self-reliant">These DIY Magazines Can Help You Be Self-Reliant</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/last-minute-diy-halloween-costumes">Last-Minute DIY Halloween Costumes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Shopping affordable gifts hobbies simplicity tools Mon, 23 Apr 2012 10:36:08 +0000 Meg Favreau 911560 at http://www.wisebread.com Screwdrivers to Saws: Stocking Your First Toolbox http://www.wisebread.com/screwdrivers-to-saws-stocking-your-first-toolbox <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/screwdrivers-to-saws-stocking-your-first-toolbox" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4490511204_2410b245d8_z.jpg" alt="too many hammers" title="too many hammers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="145" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>&ldquo;If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.&rdquo; This is a clever metaphor about the all-too-human habit of resorting to the same old coping mechanisms available to us, no matter what our problems. It can also be a literal, real-life lesson. Sometimes, there&rsquo;s no substitute for having the proper tool for the job. What follows is a list of tools to which every household should have ready access, as well as some that may just come in handy, in order of practical necessity. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-home-diy-projects-you-can-do-in-one-day">10 Home DIY&nbsp;Projects You Can Do in One Day</a>)</p> <h3>Hammer&nbsp;</h3> <p>Surprise! Sometimes, the job really does require a hammer. Such as when you want to put a nail into a wall stud to hang a heavy picture. Or when you want to put a compression snap or a grommet into a sewing project. Or crack a particularly tough walnut. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. A standard claw hammer with a smooth face suits most household purposes just fine and can be purchased for a very reasonable price at discount stores or home improvement centers.</p> <h3>Safety Glasses</h3> <p>No excuses. Safety glasses are cheap and available. They used to be dorky looking, but now there are stylish, even cool-looking ones. And nothing is cooler than having your safety glasses stop a foreign object from poking you in the eye. I&rsquo;ve experienced a poke in the eye, resulting in a scratched cornea, and that is some misery, believe me. I don&rsquo;t even want to think about possibly losing sight in an eye.</p> <h3>Utility Knife</h3> <p>Aliases: Razor knife, box cutter, carpet knife.</p> <p>This may be the most frequently used tool in our house. If you shop at warehouse stores, as we do, you have plenty of cardboard to cut up for recycling. If you garden, a retractable razor knife in your pocket is invaluable for cutting twine or plastic ties, taking cuttings, grafting limbs, or sharpening stakes. If you do much in the way of mail order shopping, putting the retractable blade of a razor knife at the least-exposed setting makes it perfect for opening boxes without slicing the contents.</p> <p><strong>Safety Tip:</strong> As they taught me in the Future Farmers of America, always cut away from yourself. (I have a scar to back that tip up.)</p> <h3>Screwdrivers</h3> <p>Every household runs across the need for screwdrivers. Some small, battery-operated gadgets even require a screwdriver to replace the batteries. A medium and small bit in both Phillips head and straight screwdrivers should handle most situations. If space in your toolbox is an issue, you can get a single screwdriver with various bits stored in the handle. These can be gotten for very reasonable prices, and they have the additional benefit of including a larger selection of bits. The drawback of the all-in-one screwdriver is that the shaft is necessarily large to accommodate the interchangeable bits, so in a tight space (like a screw recessed down inside a plastic tube), they can be a problem. If you wear eyeglasses, a set of tiny screwdrivers can be a huge convenience, and these can also be purchased economically.</p> <p><strong>Safety Tip:</strong> Some screws require great downward pressure while turning, and it&rsquo;s easy to slip. So, as with knives, always position yourself so that, should the screwdriver slip, you are out of harm&rsquo;s way. (I have a scar to back that tip up, too.)</p> <h3>Tape Measure</h3> <p>How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the <em>depth</em> and <em>breadth</em> and <em>height</em> my soul can reach&hellip;and how am I going to measure depth, breadth, and height without a tape measure? When I write &ldquo;tape measure,&rdquo; I mean a rigid, retracting metal tape measure, not a limp, fabric or plastic sewing one. In fact, a retractable metal tape measure comes in darned handy for sewing (no pun intended). But on top of that, a tape measure is useful in accurately hanging pictures, moving furniture, measuring the height of children, measuring for drapes, teasing cats, laying out garden rows&hellip;and that&rsquo;s totally ignoring woodworking or home improvements.&nbsp;If you only buy one tape measure, make it a quality, wide, heavy-duty one, at least &frac34;&rdquo; wide and 25 feet long. There are many inexpensive, narrow, wimpy pretenders, but a Stanley FatMax or a Lufkin tape measure, treated properly, could last a lifetime.</p> <h3>Duct Tape</h3> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-great-ways-to-use-duct-tape">Entire articles</a> have been written on the uses of duct tape alone. Granted, it&rsquo;s more of a supply than a tool, but no toolbox is complete without it.</p> <h3>Adjustable Wrench</h3> <p>Alias: Crescent wrench (after the original manufacturer).</p> <p>An adjustable wrench is not just a poor man&rsquo;s wrench set. There are times when a Crescent wrench is actually superior to an entire set of fixed-dimension wrenches. For example, when you&rsquo;re going somewhere to turn a nut or bolt, but you don&rsquo;t know the size before you get there. Sure, there are annoyances with an adjustable wrench, but there are many times when I have been very happy to deal with the inconvenience of that for the convenience of carrying a single wrench.</p> <p><strong>Tip: </strong>Don&rsquo;t bother with the battery powered wrench that adjusts at the touch of a button.&nbsp;It&rsquo;s an unnecessary gimmick. Just get a good quality 8-inch and 10-inch basic adjustable wrench, so you can hold a nut and a bolt while tightening.</p> <h3>Slip-Joint Pliers</h3> <p>Alias: Channellocks (after the original manufacturer).</p> <p>These will do most things that a regular pair of pliers will do, plus a lot more. The longer handles offer additional leverage for much more jaw pressure (another great nutcracker), and the slip joints allow the jaws to open far wider. In a pinch, the large throat of slip joint pliers works great for under-sink plumbing, like tightening a slip nut on your sink&rsquo;s tailpiece to stop a leak.</p> <h3>Pruning Shears</h3> <p>If you live in a home with a garden, or even a patio with potted plants, a good set of hand pruning shears can help you keep shrubs in shape and trim the stems of flower arrangements to keep them fresh longer. If you have trees, you should also have a set of lopping shears. Make sure you regularly clean and oil them.&nbsp;</p> <h3>Diagonal Side Cutters</h3> <p>Alias: Dikes.<strong> </strong></p> <p>If you do any wiring, dikes are a necessity. They also come in handy for cutting wire to make jewelry, as my crafty daughter has learned.</p> <h3>Square</h3> <p>If you are cutting large pieces of wood, like plywood, or even fabric for a rectangular sewing project like curtains, having a basic framing square makes your project more accurate. If you aren&rsquo;t too rough on it, a $12 aluminum one will hold up well. It also has the added benefit of being rust-proof, if you ever do use it for fabric, which you won&rsquo;t want to stain with rust. For smaller projects, you can go with an even less expensive 7&rdquo; speed square.</p> <h3>Hacksaw</h3> <p>Cutting metal is sometimes a very useful capability. (Those of you who have been in jail know just what I mean.) Seriously, being able to cut off rusted-on nuts, cut a new groove into a stripped screw head, or cut off an overly long bolt after you&rsquo;ve threaded the nut on can sometimes save a lot of time, trouble, and money. A hacksaw is also useful for cutting PVC pipes for plumbing repairs.</p> <h3>Hand Saw</h3> <p>Even if you get to the point where you have various forms of power saws, you will run into situations where you need a hand saw. In the attic, under the house, or in the yard, when you don&rsquo;t want to have to run an extension cord to make a single cut, or when a hand saw is just the more convenient tool, you will be happy you have one. A Stanley Sharp Tooth is an amazingly economical tool that gets the job done beautifully. A 15-inch saw with 9 TPI (teeth per inch) fits in most toolboxes and cuts like crazy. $12 on <a href="www.wisebread.com/10-favorite-mail-order-websites">Amazon</a>.</p> <h3>Ear Protection</h3> <p>Most people can get away with just some good quality earplugs for this purpose, rather than the bulky earmuffs you see on airport employees. I favor the fluorescent foam disposable earplugs because they are comfortable, and they work. You can wear them while using power saws, running garden equipment, or even sleeping when the neighbors are partying.</p> <h3>Dust Mask</h3> <p>Sawdust, silica dust, gypsum dust, paint vapors, etc., have been determined to adversely affect your health. Go figure. 3M makes some of the more comfortable, economical masks to protect you from these hazards. The packaging describes which hazards each of their masks protects against. Have some on hand to protect your long-term health. They can even cut down on hay fever when you mow your lawn.</p> <h3>Multimeter</h3> <p>Alias: Multi-tester.</p> <p>This one may seem a little esoteric for the basic household crowd, but hang in there with me. Of the houses we&rsquo;ve lived in over 30 years, only one did NOT have at least one mis-wired electrical outlet somewhere in the house. With an inexpensive (under $15) multi-tester and the most basic electricity knowledge, you can test every outlet in your home in a few minutes, saving yourself untold potential problems in the future. In addition, you can test batteries, test for electrical shorts&hellip;you can even test light bulbs for continuity, to see whether they&rsquo;re still good. You can do that with tiny fuses from electronics or you auto, too. For those who prefer not to learn fundamentals of wiring to test their outlets, a simple, foolproof receptacle tester can be found at hardware, home improvement, and even some discount stores, for $3 to $7.</p> <h3>Stud Finder</h3> <p>Yeah, yeah, old joke. But if you want to hang anything of significant weight on your walls, such as framed art or a decent clock, you are well-advised to hang it from a nail or screw fastened in a wall stud, rather than just nailed through drywall. With practice, you can learn to find studs in the wall by tapping the wall with something slightly hefty, like the rubber grip on the handle of a hammer, and listening to distinguish between the hollow sound of an empty cavity. Or, for less than ten dollars, you can buy a fancy electronic gizmo called a stud finder that reliably locates both edges of the stud, so you can hit it, dead-center. Of course, you can also use it to find the cavity for running wires through a wall, cutting out for a medicine cabinet or spice rack, etc.</p> <h3>Ladder</h3> <p>This is a tough one, not because the necessity for a ladder is in question, but because there are so many variables involved that selecting the right ladder is not automatic. If you only use it indoors, a four foot ladder will serve most people well. But to get more benefit out of ladder ownership, you need it to serve some outdoor purposes, too. A good compromise, because it serves a lot of useful purposes outdoors but will also fit inside, is a seven foot step ladder. But if you have a vaulted ceiling with a light fixture, that may not be tall enough. Measure the height of your tallest purpose, then look at the maximum safe work height of listed ladders to determine the proper size.</p> <h3>Corded Electric Drill and Bits</h3> <p>Okay, I know you&rsquo;re bombarded by Sears, Lowes, and Home Depot ads for the latest, greatest cordless drill/drivers. But I assume that, if you&rsquo;re reading this, you are not a contractor or an experienced do-it-yourselfer. Cordless tools are great for frequent users, but for the occasional do-it-yourselfer, maintaining batteries can be a real pain. When you have a couple of hours on the weekend to complete a task, it&rsquo;s mighty frustrating to pull out your cordless drill and find out the battery is dead. A plug-in tool is ready to go all the time. Sure, you have to deal with an extension cord, but in the long run, that turns out to be less hassle than keeping batteries charged between infrequent uses. The minimum chuck size I would consider is 3/8&rdquo;, and 1/2&rdquo; is all the better.</p> <h3>Heavy-Duty Extension Cord</h3> <p>You knew that was coming. A recurring theme you may notice throughout this piece is, &ldquo;tools for a lifetime.&rdquo; I believe in that. We still have tools given to us as wedding gifts or passed on from parents. Part of maintaining a corded power tool is using proper extension cords. If your extension cord is too light for the job, you put your tools under strain and wear them out (or even burn them up) more quickly. For most applications, a 25 foot cord will be sufficient. If you are likely to run outdoor tools like weed or hedge trimmers, you may need a 50 foot cord or longer. Just remember, the longer the cord, the heavier the gauge necessary. The heavier the gauge, the smaller the number (so, a 12/3 cord is heavier than a 14/3 cord). Consult the manufacturer&rsquo;s specs for your tool and application.</p> <h3>Circular Saw</h3> <p>Alias: Skilsaw (after the original manufacturer).</p> <p>If you plan on cutting plywood and/or dimensional lumber in straight lines, a circular saw is a versatile tool for your arsenal. With a few tricks and techniques, you can make nice, straight, square cuts without having to own several separate, bulky tools, like a table saw, and a power miter saw.</p> <p><strong>Safety Tip:</strong> As with all power tools, always stay alert and respect the destructive capabilities of your circular saw. Stay clear of the blade during use and after use, when you are setting it in a safe place, especially if it is not equipped with a blade brake to stop rotation after use. Wear your sporty safety glasses, your ear protection, and your dust mask.</p> <h3>Sabre Saw</h3> <p>Aliases: Saber saw, reciprocating saw, jigsaw.</p> <p>This is the saw you go to when you want to cut curved lines, notch out small pieces, or make small cuts in the center of something without starting at an edge. You might want to cut a small notch into a board to accommodate the edge of another board or an obstruction. This is also the saw you would use to cut out intricate shapes to make Christmas ornaments, craft projects, etc.</p> <h3>Bench Grinder</h3> <p>This is another item that might raise eyebrows, but a decent bench grinder is an invaluable tool for a homeowner. As far as I&rsquo;m concerned, its usefulness is as surprising to a new owner as a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/life-without-a-microwave">microwave</a> oven turns out to be. Before you own one, you think, &quot;what would I use that for?&quot; After you own one, you wonder how you lived without it. We have a wire wheel mounted on one side and a grinding wheel on the other, and it&rsquo;s hard to say which gets used most often. The wire wheel is used to buff rust and corrosion from metal, and the grinding wheel is used to sharpen lawnmower blades, machetes, hatchets, knives, scissors, etc., as well as remove sharp edges from metal cut with a hacksaw.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Safety Tip: </strong>Keep long hair tied back and away from the grinder, and respect its power. Concentrate, maintain a firm grasp on anything you touch to the wheel, and wear your safety glasses, ear protection, and dust mask!</p> <p>These are the tools, among many others, that we have found most useful in our household. Different households may have completely different priorities. I would be very interested to see readers&rsquo; suggestions!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/marla-walters">Marla Walters</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/screwdrivers-to-saws-stocking-your-first-toolbox">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/diy-home-improvement-10-free-options-for-training-and-advice">DIY Home Improvement: 10 Free Options for Training and Advice</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-ways-to-make-your-yard-look-awesome-for-under-100">14 Ways to Make Your Yard Look Awesome for Under $100</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/like-diy-avoid-these-ten-costly-mistakes">Like DIY? Avoid These 10 Costly Mistakes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-online-resources-for-the-design-impaired">Top 5 Online Resources for the Design Impaired</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-diy-tips-to-winterize-your-home-for-cheap">7 DIY Tips to Winterize Your Home for Cheap</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Home fixes home improvement new homes tools Fri, 09 Mar 2012 10:48:24 +0000 Marla Walters 909728 at http://www.wisebread.com The Best 10 Items to Borrow http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-10-items-to-borrow <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-best-10-items-to-borrow" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/laddercc.jpg" alt="Kid carrying ladder" title="If you only need a ladder once a year, borrow it." class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Before you go all Dave Ramsey on me, this post is NOT about borrowing money. It's about something much more frugal &mdash; borrowing stuff. As a cheapskate, I'm an enthusiastic borrower and lender. Not only does borrowing save me money, but lending items actually feels good because it gives me more satisfaction out of my purchase than I could get by using it all alone. As long as it's done politely, borrowing and lending builds a sense of community among family and friends. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/borrowing-from-friends-the-friendship-killer">Borrowing Money&nbsp;From&nbsp;Friends: The Friendship&nbsp;Killer</a>)</p> <p>These are the items that <em>lend</em> themselves best to this practice.</p> <h3>1. Housing</h3> <p>A house in my town was burglarized while sitting empty this holiday season. That risk is just one reason why leaving houses and apartments sitting empty is bad. We've lent our house or apartment to friends on vacation over the years, reaping the side benefit of pet sitting, house sitting, and even babysitting. (Don't worry, the friends who were staying at our house and babysitting were close friends, and reliable.) Before you rush to the conclusion that borrowing a home for vacation is cheap, think of it this way &mdash; the rich and famous do it all the time.</p> <h3>2. Office Space</h3> <p>Think beyond vacations. If you're a telecommuter in need of office space away from noisy kids, ask see if a friend has unused space during the workday. If they have a pet, they might be delighted for you to camp out at their place in exchange for letting Fido out the backdoor twice a day.</p> <h3>3. Once-a-Year Equipment</h3> <p>Do you need a tool to clean your gutters in the fall, or do you power wash your deck each spring? Ask around before buying or renting &mdash; or consider going in on the purchase with a relative or neighbor.</p> <h3>4. Children's Clothing</h3> <p>Everyone loves to see a big poufy dress on a little girl for her first birthday, but why spend $100 on a gown she'll wear for a few hours? My best friend gladly shared her daughter's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-on-special-occasion-clothing-for-kids">first birthday dress</a> with my daughter, and then when she got pregnant with another girl, it went right back to her. We just made sure the birthday girls were wearing bibs when they dug into those cakes.</p> <h3>5. Baby Items</h3> <p>It's ridiculous how much you can pay for an infant swing considering how short a time it is used. The more homes my baby equipment goes to, the better I feel about the initial investment. Just make sure you <a href="http://www.recalls.gov/search.html">search the Consumer Products Safety Commission database for recalls</a> before you put your baby in any piece of used equipment</p> <h3>6. Books, DVDs, Video Games, and Other Cultural Goods</h3> <p>While these things are of course available at the library, there is something satisfying about reading a good book and then handing it over to a loved &mdash; or liked &mdash; one to read. And did you know you can now <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/?ie=UTF8&amp;nodeId=200549320">lend some Kindle books to other readers</a> &mdash; even to read on a PC or phone?</p> <h3>7. Tools &mdash; From a Tool Library</h3> <p>When my husband and I wanted to work on our small condo with limited storage space, we were delighted to find out that there was a tool lending library nearby, so we didn't have to buy everything we needed for the job. Wikipedia has a list of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tool-lending_libraries#California">tool lending libraries all over the U.S</a>.</p> <h3>8. Everything for Parties</h3> <p>Who uses a punch bowl except at baby showers? In my extended family, everyone just asks my mom to bring hers. Did you go a little nuts and buy an inflatable jump house for your kids' birthday? You're pretty much going to have to lend that baby out to get your money's worth. Think beyond stuff to spaces, too. My brother borrowed my uncle's beautiful backyard for his wedding ceremony.</p> <h3>9. Musical Instruments</h3> <p>If your child is starting piano lessons and you don't want a new piece of furniture, ask if she can practice in your neighbor's living room each afternoon. And don't forget <a href="http://www.freecycle.org/">Freecycle</a>, where neighbors get together to give away unwanted items. A friend just procured a nice drum set for her son via our local group.</p> <h3>10. Cars</h3> <p>I know what you're thinking &mdash; too risky, right? Actually, <a href="http://articles.onlineautoinsurance.com/auto-insurance-policy/car-insurance-lending-someone-your-vehicle/">most insurance policies will cover accidents that happen when a borrower is driving your car</a> &mdash; but it's important to check in with your insurer to find out their policy and inform them of the loan. Borrowing a car can by handy not only for non-car-owners, but also if you need a larger vehicle for a specific purpose &mdash; like picking up your entire Girl Scout troop's cookie order. Borrowing a hot ride for your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/alternative-wedding-ideas-for-big-savings">wedding day</a> can save a bundle, if you have a friend or relative generous enough to hand over the keys.</p> <h3>Borrowing and Lending Guidelines</h3> <p>I mentioned courtesy when borrowing and lending. That means, first and foremost, you have to return what you borrow, or the whole borrowing society begins to crumble. No reading borrowed books in the bath &mdash; believe me, I've had to replace too many books that way.</p> <p>Another tip for borrowers is to be sensitive when asking. You really shouldn't ask to borrow Aunt Millie's fragile antique glassware or your neighbor's big screen TV &mdash; even if they're too nice to turn you down. Unless you have a close relationship, limit borrowing requests to low-ticket, durable items. If you want to borrow something more expensive, the most you can really do is hint about your need and leave it for the potential lender to offer if they feel generous.</p> <p>When lending, it's really important to make it clear when, or if, you need the item back. If you don't say anything about needing those outgrown kids' clothes back, don't be surprised if you come looking for them a year later and I've already passed them on to someone else.</p> <p>Finally, borrowing and lending must go both ways. No one likes a borrower like <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blondie_(comic_strip)">Dagwood's neighbor Herb</a>, who was never lending &mdash; or even returning!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-10-items-to-borrow">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-10"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-kitchen-gadgets-that-arent-worth-the-money">10 Kitchen Gadgets That Aren&#039;t Worth the Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-dont-people-share-more">Why don&#039;t people share more?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-cheap-and-easy-homemade-mosquito-repellents">4 Cheap and Easy Homemade Mosquito Repellents</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-laundry-detergents">The 5 Best Laundry Detergents</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/youre-washing-your-clothes-too-often-what-to-do-instead">You&#039;re Washing Your Clothes Too Often! (What to Do Instead)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Home Shopping borrowing sharing tools Wed, 18 Jan 2012 11:24:34 +0000 Carrie Kirby 868526 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Really Save Money When You Shop http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-really-save-money-when-you-shop <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-really-save-money-when-you-shop" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/us-currency.jpg" alt="US Currency" title="US Currency" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="206" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I assume we all sometimes feel the urge to mock people who think that they &quot;saved money&quot; when they bought something at a discount. They buy some exercise equipment or new shoes and are pleased with themselves for &quot;saving $60,&quot; even though what they really did was spend twice that. But there is a valid way to save money with a purchase. Hint: It has nothing to do with a discount. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-things-to-never-pay-full-price-for">25 Things to Never Pay Full Price For</a>)</p> <p>What really works is to make a purchase that lets you <em>produce something,</em> or make a purchase that lets you <em>avoid consuming something</em>.</p> <p>The first examples that come to my mind have to do with producing or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-save-water-energy-money-the-world-in-one-afternoon">saving energy</a>:</p> <ul> <li>Insulation or weather stripping</li> <li>Warm sweater</li> <li>Fuel-efficient car (or motorcycle or bicycle)</li> <li>Energy-efficient furnace (or other appliances)</li> <li>Solar hot water heater</li> <li>Photovoltaic power system</li> </ul> <p>All but the last of those have a payback time that's pretty quick. And those are just some obvious ones. There are all kinds of things that might qualify, depending on exactly how you use them.</p> <p>Tools are another example &mdash; although only if you're actually going to use them to make or fix stuff that you'd otherwise buy or replace. Because so many things are made to be replaced (rather than repaired) these days, tools to make or grow stuff are often a better bet &mdash; knitting needles, for example, or garden tools. I got a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-time-money-energy-and-eat-great">pressure cooker</a> a few years ago that has probably already paid for itself by saving energy and letting me make good use of cheaper ingredients (not to mention providing vast numbers of yummy meals).</p> <p>Sometimes it makes sense to buy things you'd otherwise have to rent repeatedly &mdash; but not very often. For example, there's a movie that my wife and I like to watch every year. After renting it for a couple of years, we bought our own copy. It was really a matter of convenience, though. Even at just $12 or so, the payback time for the investment is pretty long.</p> <p>Finally, I want to mention <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/investing-101-5-essential-steps">financial investments</a>. Most people seem to treat them as a special case, but as far as I'm concerned they fall squarely into this category &mdash; you spend money to buy a stock or bond, and you receive money in the form of interest or dividends (and potentially a capital gain when you sell the investment).</p> <p>Do you know other ways to save money with a purchase &mdash; that is, <em>really</em> save money?</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-really-save-money-when-you-shop">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-11"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-innovative-but-obscure-sites-that-put-money-in-your-pocket">10 Innovative But Obscure Sites That Put Money In Your Pocket</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-awesome-useful-gifts">25 Awesome, Useful Gifts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chinese-money-habits-how-my-culture-influences-my-attitudes-toward-money">Chinese Money Habits - How My Culture Influences My Attitudes Toward Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-ways-to-make-your-yard-look-awesome-for-under-100">14 Ways to Make Your Yard Look Awesome for Under $100</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-grocery-budgeting-a-game-the-price-is-right-style">Make Grocery Budgeting A Game, The Price Is Right Style</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Shopping cut energy costs home improvement tools Tue, 18 Jan 2011 14:00:08 +0000 Philip Brewer 460049 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Essential Tools for Getting Work Done -- Anywhere! http://www.wisebread.com/7-essential-tools-for-getting-work-done-anywhere <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-essential-tools-for-getting-work-done-anywhere" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/laptop.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="173" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Sometimes you just have to get out of the office to ever get any work done!&nbsp;</p> <p>When you're on the go, or are working from home, what are the best tools to keep you productive and in step with the rest of the world?&nbsp;</p> <p>We share our a couple from our list of 7 necessary tools to help you get work done -- anywhere!</p> <h3><b>IM</b></h3> <p>Instant messaging has always had its supposed social appeal, but when it comes to a tool for getting a quick word in with a client, co-worker, or boss, there&rsquo;s still no substitute.</p> <p>Quickly replacing cell phone text messages as the best way to ping anyone, IM&rsquo;s can be simple and effective methods of finding an answer to a question, conducting a very brief 5-minute meeting, or to simply check in with your status on an important project.Some of the more popular sites to get started include <a href="http://www.skype.com/">Skype</a>, <a href="http://home.live.com/">Windows Live</a>, <a href="http://www.meebo.com/">Meebo</a>, <a href="http://www.digsby.com/">Digsby</a>, <a href="http://www.miranda-im.org/">Miranda</a>, and <a href="http://www.pidgin.im/">Pidgin</a>.</p> <div align="center"> <p><img alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/wisebread/lifescoop/IM%20-%20Digsby.jpg" /></p> </div> <h3><strong>Open Office </strong></h3> <p>Many of the newer netbooks come standard with some kind of Microsoft office suite, but many charge extra &ndash; much extra&mdash;for the luxury.&nbsp;</p> <p>Why not ensure that all your documents, spreadsheets, and databases are compatible with ANY computer you use or own, and download the free office solution from <a href="http://www.openoffice.org/">OpenOffice.org</a>?</p> <p>This open source miracle provides you the ability to create, revise, and save files the way you should be able to, and sending it back to your workplace (or a client) has never been so easy!&nbsp;</p> <div align="center"> <p><img alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/wisebread/lifescoop/open-office400.png" /></p> </div> <p><em>Check out <a href="http://mylifescoop.com/featured-stories/2010/03/how-to-get-work-done-anywhere.html">our full guest post on Lifescoop</a> to get the full scoop on all our favorite apps!</em></p><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-essential-tools-for-getting-work-done-anywhere">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-12"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-complete-idiots-guide-to-speed-reading-a-book-review">The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Speed Reading: A Book Review</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/three-quirky-search-tools-to-help-you-get-results">Three Quirky Search Tools to Help You Get Results</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-have-a-sven-sandy-might-be-the-next-best-thing">Don&#039;t Have A Sven? Sandy Might Be the Next Best Thing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/change-your-life-by-changing-your-bedtime-routine">Change Your Life by Changing Your Bedtime Routine</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-easily-use-an-ipad-as-a-laptop">How to Easily Use an iPad as a Laptop</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks General Tips Productivity Technology lifescoop productivity tools Tue, 02 Mar 2010 19:04:37 +0000 Linsey Knerl 5536 at http://www.wisebread.com What frugal lessons can we learn from the demoscene? http://www.wisebread.com/what-frugal-lessons-can-we-learn-from-the-demoscene <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-frugal-lessons-can-we-learn-from-the-demoscene" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/melon dreams.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The &quot;<strong>demoscene</strong>&quot; loosely refers to an underground computer art movement where the emphasis is on creating <strong>amazing-but-compact <em>demonstrations</em></strong> &mdash; hence the name. Modern geeks and deals have been married as early as the advent of tech flea markets, but the demoscene is special.</p> <p><object width="475" height="297"> <param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/PidTKpKLYZM&amp;showsearch=0&amp;rel=0&amp;fs=1&amp;autoplay=0&amp;ap=%2526fmt%3D18" /> <param name="wmode" value="window" /> <param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed width="475" height="297" src="http://www.youtube.com/v/PidTKpKLYZM&amp;showsearch=0&amp;fs=1&amp;rel=0&amp;autoplay=0&amp;ap=%2526fmt%3D18" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" wmode="window"></embed></object></p> <p>The demoscene has illicit roots grounded in software piracy. Basically, an individual or small team would go beyond &quot;cracking&quot; a game to break its copy protection: they'd also put a visual tag, or &quot;loader&quot;, before the game started. Like real-world graffiti, these served as the mark of a demo group, often containing text shoutouts of respect and inside jokes.</p> <p>As the form matured, demos became strong enough to serve as their own standalone shows, and conventions were hosted around them. The amazing thing about so many of these demos &mdash; and what I mean by &quot;compact demonstrations&quot; &mdash; is they were <strong>extremely resource-light</strong>, relying on insanely deep knowledge of making a computer do tricks not envisioned with its original hardware specs: faux 3D on primitive hardware, extending the screen borders, etc.</p> <p>What does all of this have to do with making smart choices saving money? Here are <strong>3 effective lessons we can apply from the demoscene</strong>:</p> <h2>1. Be resourceful yet fun</h2> <p>In an era when 500 gigabyte hard drives are common, it's easy to slack off and not be astute about tidying your files. The demoscene has long prided itself on tapping into the potential of severe constraints: even today, there are demogroups working on old computers like the Commodore 64 and Amiga, squeezing surprisingly tasty juice out of their ancient husks. There are <a href="http://www.maa.org/editorial/mathgames/mathgames_08_16_04.html">&quot;64K&quot; competitions</a> which means your demo <em>must</em> fit into 64 kilobytes or less. To put that in perspective, that's like a drop in the bucket of a modern PC's memory.</p> <p>With such tight limits, every single line of code must be put to good use. Anything nonessential is trimmed; techniques like procedural generation (using math to create graphics on the fly, rather than prerendered) are employed wisely. <em>And</em> there almost always is music, too! It may not sound like Top 40 radio hits, but is carefully crafted with catchy melodies.</p> <p><strong>If you can do more with the same resources, you should.</strong> A sage bargain hunter strives to save money and scrimps when needed. But that's not to be mistaken for a miser who gets little pleasure out of life because their tightfisted spending is depriving them of fun. Even if you're making meals on a budget, infusing them with color and zest is preferable to sulking over gruel. In much the same way, some of the greatest demoscene stars came from war-torn parts of Eastern Europe, where not only did they not have access to the latest Western technology, they had an overall lower quality of life to contend with. And yet, you might not know that when gazing at the vibrant spectrum of their demos.</p> <p>It's not enough to save. <strong>To prosper from your healthy habits, you must enjoy, and flourish.</strong></p> <h2>2. Tight teams help you win</h2> <p>Many of the greatest demos were made by a triad: a coder, an artist, and a musician. There are edge cases and exceptions to this, sure, but these 3 archetypes show up time and time again. The individuals may possess overlapping skills, but having <strong>a core group enforces both trust and helps you catch mistakes you might miss on your own</strong> &mdash; especially if you're groggy from hours of creative spelunking &quot;inside the machine&quot;.</p> <p>Even veteran deal mavens are prone to making errors like forgetting a product's predicted lifecycle and buying it <em>just</em> before the newest model is introduced, when prices drop on the prior line. Lacking that knowledge can be costly, and with so much of a dataglut on the Net, it can be tough to pinpoint what you need <em>before</em> you spend. That's why you need someone who knows your tastes, and even with machine-assisted matching, there's no substitute for human intuition. Hot deals are often time-sensitive and stock-limited, so while polling the masses (e.g., on Twitter) can be useful, <strong>keep in mind they're looking for the same deals as you</strong>. It's a <em>dog-eat-deals world</em> out there.</p> <p>That's why in addition to tools, it helps on several fronts to have a &quot;tight team&quot; when dealhunting. It doesn't have to be a formal group with a name (although like superheroes, that can be fun). Just some friends you've organically come to trust over the course of multiple purchases, who you'll watch out for in kind. Another plus: <strong>you could save when doing &quot;bulk buys&quot; for stuff your team wants,</strong> instead of having to hunt down a stranger. (But we're all strangers in the beginning, so get started!)</p> <h2>3. Iterate, iterate, iterate your tools</h2> <p>&quot;Iterate&quot; is sort of a geeky word, but it basically means to do something over and over again. Not just the <em>same</em> thing, but to build on an established base. Many demos do this: for instance, a landscape that continues to unfold across the screen, or you may be familiar with fractal art you can infinitely zoom into.</p> <p>Digital data is easy to copy, and it was through rampant swapping of floppy disks that demos proliferated: not just as as entertainment, but for the benefit of eager demosceners-to-be who'd deconstruct and reverse-engineer what they got their hands on. The more promising novices would then take the bulk of what they learned and add a twist to it &mdash; an iteration, like DNA mutating &mdash; before sending it back out into the wild. This predates the &quot;remix culture&quot; we have today, and it continues as a parallel strain of computer-based collaboration.</p> <p>This is relevant when you're looking for deals because you'll swiftly discover that <strong>the good stuff gets snapped up incredibly fast unless you have the right tools <em>and</em> practice how to use them</strong>: whether it's email alerts, eBay auction watchers like <a href="http://www.jbidwatcher.com/">JBidwatcher</a>, or RSS aggregators that show you what's hot today (on that note, remember you can <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/feed">subscribe to Wise Bread</a>!), there are always new tools to help you save money. As you get comfortable with some, stay hungry for what's on the horizon or you'll miss out. <strong>Keep trying new tools and simply stick with what gets you results.</strong></p> <p>The same is true for deals sites' development. It's an amusing game to observe which fundamental &quot;I need that too!&quot; features spread from one social media hub to another. A fine example is <a href="http://retailmenot.com/">RetailMeNot</a> on the left-hand side &mdash; how many of those various features have you seen on other sites? (I'm rather fond of whenever a site has a Mac Dashboard Widget.)</p> <p><strong>Tools aren't the end, they're part of the process, and they reduce the distance from you to the deals.</strong></p> <p><img src="http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1174/1264719393_c83732b337.jpg" style="display: inline;" alt="" /></p> <h2>Further reading</h2> <p>The above is but a cursory dip into the demoscene, but if you're curious, <strong>I highly recommend </strong><a href="http://maz-sound.com/goto_product_20"><em><strong>FREAX - Volume 1</strong></em></a>, which is an exquisite and in-depth story of the the early demo days, including the personalities who shaped its growth. It's riddled with typographical errors but there's a lot of humor, and the art is gorgeous. As this is a fairly esoteric text, I don't know of any notable discounts on it, but I prize my copy. There are many connections between 80s retrocomputing and modern dealhunting.</p> <p><em><strong>Have you spotted connections between another &quot;scene&quot; and our dealhunting culture?</strong></em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/torley-wong">Torley Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-frugal-lessons-can-we-learn-from-the-demoscene">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-13"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-things-you-should-buy-at-costco">15 Things You Should Buy at Costco</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-should-never-buy-at-the-dollar-store-and-10-you-should">10 Things You Should Never Buy at the Dollar Store (and 10 You Should)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-these-8-questions-to-get-a-better-price">Ask These 8 Questions to Get a Better Price</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-awesome-useful-gifts">25 Awesome, Useful Gifts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/50-best-deals-coupons-sites">50 Best Deals and Coupon Sites</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping c64 computers culture deals demoscene resources tools Mon, 23 Feb 2009 00:04:31 +0000 Torley Wong 2860 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Innovative But Obscure Sites That Put Money In Your Pocket http://www.wisebread.com/10-innovative-but-obscure-sites-that-put-money-in-your-pocket <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-innovative-but-obscure-sites-that-put-money-in-your-pocket" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/pink-piggy-bank-with-mouse.jpg" alt="Smart piggy" title="Smart piggy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="279" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>These ten websites help you save or make money in innovative ways, yet they are relatively unknown.&nbsp; We learned of these guys while doing research for the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/160239704X?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=160239704X">Wise Bread book</a> coming out in May.&nbsp; You've got your copy pre-ordered, right?&nbsp; Enjoy the list, and share with your friends!&nbsp; Don't forget to chime in with more money-saving sites in the comments.</p> <p>1. <strong><a href="http://zilok.com">Zilok</a></strong> - Weird name but incredibly cool concept. Zilok is basically &quot;eBay for rentals&quot;.&nbsp; You can rent your stuff out or rent someone else's stuff for a day. For owners, get more out of your purchases -- just a few rentals could pay for the item! For renters, you can save money by renting, instead of buying, seldomly used items. Stuff like canoes, laptops, cameras, cars, books, baby strollers, and everything in between is available for rent from someone near you.</p> <p>2. <strong><a href="http://shopittome.com/">Shop It To Me</a></strong> - It's like having your own personal shopper constantly on the lookout for sales!&nbsp; Rather than scour through all the deals on the web, create your own wish list of clothes, then wait for a bargain to appear. Select your size, brand, and other preferences, and Shop It To Me will email you when there's a relevant sale.&nbsp; This is perfect for lazy but cheap shoppers like me.</p> <p>3. <strong><a href="http://upromise.com">UPromise</a></strong> - Save money and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/college/saving-for-college" title="How to Save Money for College">build a college fund</a> at the same time. You get 1-25% back from shopping online through UPromise, or by shopping at over 30,000 offline restaurants, drug stores, and supermarkets. Your discounted savings can be automatically deposited into a 529 college savings plan.</p> <p>4. <strong><a href="http://covestor.com">Covestor</a></strong> - Covestor lets you follow the trades of top performing investors. Piggyback off proven winners to grow your wealth. If you're one of those proven winners, Covestor will pay you for every person who follows your stock trades.</p> <p>5. <strong><a href="http://beatthat.com/">BeatThat!</a></strong> - 100% community driven, this site rewards members for finding the lowest price with cold, hard cash. It's the perfect shortcut for deal hunters who don't want to run through multiple sites to verify the best price on a product.&nbsp; Because deal hounds all over the Web are getting bounties for finding better deals&nbsp;(versus a staff who may not be giving it 110%), you'll find some really great bargains here.&nbsp; And if you're one of those deal hounds, you could make some beer money for all that time you spend those deals sites.</p> <p>6. <strong><a href="http://freecycle.org">Freecycle</a></strong> - One man's trash is another man's treasure. Find your location and see if anyone is giving away something you need, and vice versa. What a great way to be green and frugal at the same time.</p> <p>7. <strong><a href="http://smarthippo.com">Smart Hippo</a></strong> - Crowdsource your mortgage rate research. Smart Hippo is a community of people who post their reviews of mortgages, banks, and lenders. You can use this information to find the best rates and loan officers in your area.</p> <p>8. <strong><a href="http://billshrink.com">BillShrink</a></strong> - Get a list of cell phone plans or credit cards that are better than what you have in less than 5 minutes. Answer a few questions about your current credit card or cell phone plan (or have BillShrink do it automatically by uploading your last statement), and BillShrink will recommend better phone plans or credit cards that fit your needs.</p> <p>9. <strong><a href="http://smartypig.com/">SmartyPig</a></strong> - Hands-free savings account for specific goals or purchases. You set a goal and choose the amount you want to contribute each month to reach that goal, and SmartyPig automatically pulls that amount from your checking account each month. You can make your goals public to friends and family, so they can contribute to your goal if they want to. Just like a savings account at your local bank, SmartyPig pays an interest on the money deposited and all deposits are insured by the FDIC. You can withdraw your money at any time via a debit card or electronic transfer.</p> <p>10. <a href="http://crossloop.com"><strong>CrossLoop</strong></a> - For finding PC help and/or getting paid to fix a PC problem.&nbsp; CrossLoop is a remote desktop application <em>and</em> marketplace.&nbsp; The help requester must give the helper a single-use code in order for the helper's computer to see and control the helpee's computer.&nbsp; This is great for fixing your parents computer, getting help fixing that nagging Windows issue, or make a few bucks helping others fix their PC problems.&nbsp; It's free to use CrossLoop.&nbsp; If you're a PC whiz, you can make money at the marketplace by helping those without geeky kids to help them.&nbsp; You can set your own rates and determine your own specific services.&nbsp; Windows only at the moment, but a Mac version is in development.</p> <p><em>Do you know of an obscure site that saves you a ton of cash?&nbsp; Well, don't keep it a secret!&nbsp; Please share in the comments.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/greg-go">Greg Go</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-innovative-but-obscure-sites-that-put-money-in-your-pocket">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-14"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-paid-for-your-psychic-skills-at-predictify">Get Paid for your Psychic Skills at Predictify</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/longtime-mac-users-punished-for-loyalty">Longtime Mac Users Punished for Loyalty</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-really-save-money-when-you-shop">How to Really Save Money When You Shop</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-foods-that-are-actually-cheaper-at-whole-foods">6 Foods That Are Actually Cheaper At Whole Foods</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-awesome-useful-gifts">25 Awesome, Useful Gifts</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Shopping Technology saving money tools website Sun, 01 Feb 2009 23:25:13 +0000 Greg Go 2800 at http://www.wisebread.com The "one big lump" theory of your money http://www.wisebread.com/the-one-big-lump-theory-of-your-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-one-big-lump-theory-of-your-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/budget-envelopes.jpg" alt="Budget envelopes" title="Compartments for Money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="175" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Don't get confused by the way your money's divided up.&nbsp; It might be split up into IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 529 plans, and annuities.&nbsp; Separately from that, it might be invested in different things--stocks, bonds, real estate, and cash.&nbsp; You might even use separate accounts to segregate your funds by goal--emergency fund, retirement savings, car down payment, and sending the kids to college.&nbsp; Despite all that, it's really one big lump of money.</p> <p>All those things--compartments, investments, accounts--are <strong>tools</strong>. And it makes no more sense to treat your money as different because of the compartment it's in than it would to divide up your garden produce based on whether the plants were weeded with a hoe or a trowel.</p> <p>Come to think of it, groceries make a pretty good metaphor. You divide your food up into categories several different ways--whether it needs to be refrigerated or not, whether it's home-grown or not, where it fits into the food pyramid (or four food groups, if you're old). But your goal is a healthful diet for your family, and you meet that goal with the smaller goals of a series of good meals. Your entire pantry is at your disposal to serve those goals, and you'd never assume that you can only make breakfast with foods in the refrigerator, while making dinner with only canned food.</p> <p>When it comes to their money, though, people start thinking like that. They assume that the money in their retirement account has to be invested for their retirement. They mentally allocate specific investments to specific goals--so if the stock market goes one way they get a great vacation but can't afford to repave the driveway (or vice versa).</p> <p>Don't do that. Instead, treat your money as one big lump that supports all your goals. Then, use the various compartments and investments and accounts as tools to help you use your one big lump of money to satisfy all your needs--and as many of your important wants as possible.</p> <p>Let me pause here for a moment to say that I certainly understand the temptation to target some funds--I used to do that. I'd figure, if I just put $x out of each paycheck into some account, after so many months I'd have enough money to buy some thing or another. I used to wish for a facility that didn't exist then, but actually does now:&nbsp; sub-accounts. At most of the internet banks and brokerage firms, you can divide your account into sub-accounts targeted for some specific goal. Then, when you make a deposit, you can allocate the money among any or all of those sub-accounts.</p> <p>It's really all in one account; they're just keeping track of a variety of subtotals for you. And that's one clue as to why it's better to treat your money as one big lump--because it really is.</p> <p>There are several wins if you treat your money as one big lump.</p> <h2>Double-counting</h2> <p>One advantage is that some of your money can serve several purposes at once. This is most obviously true for cash.</p> <p>You need cash for several purposes. You need cash for <strong>liquidity</strong>--to smooth out the fact that the dates that your bills are due on are not synchronized with the dates you get paid. You need cash for <strong>emergencies</strong>--because a certain category of problem can only be solved with ready cash that you can spend today. You also want to have cash on hand to take advantage of <strong>opportunities</strong>--tomato paste going on sale is not an emergency, but there are <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/huge-tax-free-investment-returns">huge investment returns</a> (tax free!) if you stock up when you see a great deal. You also sometimes need to accumulate a large sum of cash for <strong>large transactions</strong> like a car purchase or a real estate closing.</p> <p>To a considerable extent, you can use one pool of cash to support all these purposes. The money you keep on hand for liquidity is part of your emergency fund. You don't want to tie up a large fraction of your emergency fund in &quot;opportunities,&quot; but you can invest several percent of it in household staples without putting your finances at risk (in fact, for a certain category of emergencies, such as a flood or a blizzard, a few jars of peanut butter and a big bag of rice is a lot more useful than cash in an internet savings account).</p> <p>The same is true of all the other categories of investments in your portfolio. All your stock investments support all your long-term goals. All your bond investments support all your medium-term goals. And so on.</p> <h2>Clear thinking</h2> <p>Another big advantage to treating your money as one big lump is that it's a more accurate model of reality.</p> <p>If you're one of the people who puts a few dollars every paycheck into several different accounts, each saving up for some particular goal, what happens if there's an emergency? You've got two choices: You either cover your emergency with credit (and pay interest), or else you raid your special purpose accounts for the cash (and feel bad).</p> <p>You have the same two choices if you treat your money as one big lump--except that you can skip the feeling bad part, because you never pretended that the money was &quot;allocated&quot; to some goal or another. It was all part of your one big lump of money that supports all your goals--including dealing with an emergency.</p> <p>Divided the money up by goal is one of those little tricks people use to fool themselves into doing the saving that they want to do, to keep themselves from just spending it on passing whims. Although I'm generally in favor of whatever tricks people find that seem to work for them, I think this one should be avoided.</p> <p>See, what you're doing is lying to yourself. If you're only lying to yourself about the little things--pretending you only have the money in your checking account to get by until payday--that's fine. But your entire portfolio is too important for you to be managing it with one eye closed, pretending that it's something other than what it is.</p> <h2>Unified perspective</h2> <p>If you've got a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/plan-for-your-wants ">plan for satisfying your wants</a>, you've already got all the advantages of pre-allocating the money, without the disadvantages of lying to yourself.</p> <p>Just like the person who puts money into a bunch of separate accounts, figure out how much you need to save to fund all your various goals--and then save that much. But instead of dividing the money into separate accounts based on goal, feed it all into your one big lump of money--and then manage that one big lump of money as a unified portfolio that supports all your goals.</p> <h2>Optimize compartment advantages</h2> <p>Finally, once you're managing your money as one big lump, you're in a much better position to take maximum advantage of things like tax-advantaged accounts such as IRAs and 401(k)s.</p> <p>See, income earned in those accounts accumulates tax-free, but any money that you take out of those accounts is taxed as income--including capital gains that would otherwise have been taxed at a favored rate. So, the key to take advantage is to <strong>use those compartments to hold income-earning securities</strong>. Don't fund your IRA or 401(k) with long-term investments for your retirement! Fund your IRA or 401(k) with things that earn interest. (I wrote about this in more detail in <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-401-k-is-not-an-investment">Your 401(k) is not an investment</a>.)</p> <p>If you think that your 401(k) or IRA needs to have a balanced retirement portfolio, you're going to miss out on some of the juicy tax advantages that the plans offer. The key to avoiding that misstep is to understand that your whole portfolio is one big lump of your money. No individual account or compartment needs to be balanced on its own--it's only your entire portfolio that needs to be balanced.</p> <p>And the way to keep that perspective is to treat your money as one big lump that supports all your goals.<br /> &nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-one-big-lump-theory-of-your-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-15"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/retirement-accounts-and-money-to-spend">Retirement accounts and money to spend</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/left-a-job-do-a-rollover">Left a job? Do a rollover.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/optimize-your-ira-and-401k">Optimize Your IRA and 401(k)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/intimidated-by-retirement-investing-get-professional-help">Intimidated by Retirement Investing? Get Professional Help!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-of-the-coolest-sayings-about-saving">10 of the Coolest Sayings About Saving</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance 401(k) 403(b) compartments IRA money management tools Sat, 03 Jan 2009 16:47:55 +0000 Philip Brewer 2699 at http://www.wisebread.com