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Hello and welcome to DrFrugal.com. If you've ever had the unfortunate experience of trying to find information online that has anything to do with money, you know most sites are worthless because they're trying to pawn something. Not here--there's nothing to buy. I've tried my best to only include pragmatic, realistic informtion to help you lead a simpler life by taking care of your personal finances.
Everyone gets the urge to conduct spring cleaning at one time or another. Spring cleaning is a process that involves ridding oneself of unwanted household items to make room for other things. Spring cleaning can be frustrating if the person does not have a concrete plan in place. The following are some tips for a smooth spring cleaning process:
Gather "Cleaning" Supplies
The first step in the spring cleaning process should be gathering the necessary supplies. The person should visit a nearby dollar store and purchase three or four packs of garbage bags. An abundant supply of garbage bags will make it possible for the cleaner to do quick sweeps. Quick sweeps occur when a person opens a bag and then throws a mound of unwanted items away. A spring cleaner will want to purchase cleaning gloves, air fresheners, mops and brooms, as well.
Separate Donation Items First
After gathering trash bags and storage boxes, the cleaner will want to go through the closets and drawers to find items that he or she can donate. Many unfortunate people need clothing for themselves and their family members. Organizations such as the Salvation Army and Goodwill give struggling people the opportunity to obtain clothing for a cheap price. Therefore, no one should throw away unworn clothing during spring cleaning, as someone else may need it.
Clean One Room at a Time
A successful spring cleaner has to stay organized. Cleaning only one room at a time keeps down clutter and confusion. The person will want to start with the smallest room in the house like the children's room. The person should work his or her way around the house until every room is devoid of unnecessary items. The cleaning may take several hours or several days. The key is for the person to avoid getting frustrated with the process.
Reward Family Members for Helping
The cleaning process can go smoother with the help of the members of the household. Not many people enjoy cleaning. Therefore, the person in charge may want to offer the family members prizes or rewards for helping. The children may help with the cleaning for a small gift such as a candy bar. The spouse may require additional persuasion, but he or she will help eventually. A cleaner may be able to talk a neighbor into helping, too. The event could be fun with the right attitude and a sense of motivation.
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Income tax time is a time of headaches and stress for people who will owe taxes. It can be a time of rejoicing for people who are eligible for refunds, however. Taxpayers who do not have an excessive income can qualify for certain credits and deductions that can help them to obtain refunds. The following are some common income tax credits that can place a taxpayer on the refund side of a yearly return:
Earned Income Credit
Earned income credit is perhaps one of the most popular credits that taxpayers seek. They can receive a refund of $503 to $6,242 if they meet the qualifications. To qualify for earned income credit, the taxpayers must not select the "married filing separately" filing status. All other statuses will qualify the taxpayer for EIC. The taxpayer must have earned income to qualify for EIC, as well. Earned income can come from a business or by working with a regular employer.
Several educational credits are available for taxpayers who went to college during the year. One example of an educational credit is the tuition and fees deduction. The tuition and fees deduction provides a taxpayer with a deduction of up to $4,000 for tuition expenses. To qualify for the tuition fees and deduction credit, the taxpayer must earn less than $160,000 if he or she is married or less than $65,000 for the unmarried person.
Some taxpayers can take a deduction of up to $2,500 for the interest on their student loans. To qualify for the deduction, the person must have an annual income of less than $150,000 if he or she is married and $60,000 if unmarried. Additionally, only certain tax forms allow the deduction.
A taxpayer can take many credits if that person owns a business. Examples of some business expenses that one can claim are electric bills, automobile expenses, and traveling expenses. A business owner can claim business credits in one of two ways. The person can use the standard $1,500 credit that does not require extensive calculation. Alternatively, the person can complete a long form and itemize all of his or her business deductions. Itemizing the deductions may be better for someone who has many yearly business expenses.
Several other income tax credits are available. The taxpayer can started with the previously mentioned deductions and then search for additional credits.
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Choosing the perfect bank account to meet financial needs can sometimes be difficult. Consumers often become confused about which features and benefits are the best for them. The following provides a brief guideline for people who are not yet sure which bank they should select for daily usage:
Consider the Main Purpose
The first step in selecting a good bank is deciding which purpose the bank account will suit. The consumer will have to ask himself of herself if the account will be for performing checking transactions, storing money or earning money. Interest checking accounts and savings accounts are excellent products for people who want to earn a small amount of money. Money market accounts are good for earning higher returns, but they are risky. Certificates of Deposits are great for people who want to store their money and watch it mature over time. Checking accounts are best for consumers who want unlimited check writing ability and a free checking card. A consumer must first decide which account he or she needs before moving on to the second step.
Use Search Tools
Finding a reliable local bank can be simplified by using search tools. Google is one of the easiest methods for finding a bank. The consumer can type "bank" and the name of his or her town to start the search. Alternatively, the person can search for a banking comparison tool that will help him or her to look at several banks at once. A comparison site will show a vertical or horizontal comparison with each bank's primary features.
Visit the Main Website
Next, the consumer will want to visit the website of at least three promising banks. The person will want to review items such as monthly fee, minimum opening balance, overdraft charges and the like. Each bank will have favorable features and unfavorable features.
Conduct Thorough Research
Once the consumer has picked at least two banks that look reasonable, he or she will want to take research a step further. The prospective bank account owner may want to search through some consumer reviews to see what other people are saying about the bank. A banking institution is a good candidate if it has more than three stars in terms of consumer ratings. Additionally, the person will want to see if the bank is registered with the Better Business Bureau and check its current grade.
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The holidays tend to put a strain on the collective consumer wallet. Shoppers have to marshall as much money as possible and try to fulfill the desires of their closest friends and family members.
A holiday shopper can use a number of tips and tricks to save money during the chaotic holiday season. The following are some ways that one can save money on holiday supplies and gifts:
Visiting Discount Stores
Discount stores are famous for their valiant attempts to keep holiday items affordable for consumers. Holiday shoppers can find most of their supplies such as wrapping paper and tape at discounts stores. Walmart, Family Dollar and Dollar Tree are examples of discounts stores. The same discount stores often have inexpensive gifts that people can pick up for their family members and friends. The affordable gift selection includes candles, trinkets, books and a number of fragrances and beauty items.
Waiting as Late as Possible
Holiday items tend to go on sale with massive discounts the closer it gets to the holiday. A consumer can fare well by waiting as long as possible before he or she goes on a holiday shopping spree. Shoppers sometimes wait until the week before Christmas to purchase presents. The daring shoppers wait until the last few days before the holiday.
Hitting Clearance Racks
Shoppers can take advantage of the clearance racks and receive massive discounts on clothing and other holiday gifts. Searching a clearance rack is like looking for a piece of gold in a stack of hay. A shopper can find some amazing gifts that his or her family members will treasure. However, the process requires patience. Clearance racks are full of items that were hard to sell for various reasons. The items are quite often brand new and in perfect condition.
Buying Old-School Items
Old-school items are items that were popular before the electronics age hit. A frugal holiday shopper can shop for old-school items for kids instead of buying tablets, laptops, cell phones and so forth. Examples of some old-school presents are stuffed animals, board games and books. Coloring books and LEGO toys are still popular because they can still open the door to a child's imagination. Arts and crafts items are a good way to go for saving money, as well.
Smart holiday shoppers can always find a way to save money. They can use the aforementioned tips as a starting point.
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An automobile can be a costly commodity with expenses such as insurance, fuel and repairs. Frugal consumers will have to take steps to reduce their monthly vehicle-associated costs if they would like to survive in the declining economy. The following are some helpful tips for reducing the monthly expenses for vehicle operation:
Change Insurance Coverage
Changing one's insurance coverage is perhaps one of the easiest and quickest ways to cut vehicle expenses. First, a person who has full coverage can downgrade to liability-only coverage if he or she owns the vehicle. Next, the person can change the deductible amount for different benefits and receive huge discounts. For example, a person might receive a $50 a month discount by changing a $250 deductible to $1,000 for comp and collision. The vehicle owner can change the coverage again once his or her financial situation improves.
Carpool With Friends or Coworkers
Carpooling is an excellent way to save money on gas. Many coworkers will be willing to pick up other coworkers who are on the same shift. A carpooling arrangement usually only involves small contributions toward the driver's weekly fuel supply. The expense will be extremely low if the carpool includes several people.
Use the Public Transportation System
Buses and trains can save a worker a fair share of money. Workers who work close to their homes can try taking a bus back and forth to the job. Bus fare is usually under $2 for a ride that is within a five-mile radius. Driving a vehicle the same short distance could cost three times that amount, as gas burns faster on short trips. Buses and trains can give the person a chance to relax, as well.
Obtain a Gas Card or Cash Back Card
A consumer with good credit can obtain a gas card or a credit card. A gas card is a credit card that offers special discounts on pump transactions. A cash back card is a credit card that returns a small percentage of consumer's expenses on certain transactions. Some cash back cards award cardholders up to 6 percent cash back for fuel purchases.
Perform Solo Maintenance Tasks
Finally, performing maintenance tasks such as oil changes, filter changes and spark plug changes at home can save hundreds of dollars. Many shops charge $30-$50 for a simple oil change. A consumer can do it alone for $10 if the person buys the filter and oil from the right place.
Saving money on vehicle expenses is not difficult. A consumer can start taking frugal steps today.
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