I was going to begin today’s column by apologizing for yet another update on how to make homemade laundry detergent. Then it struck me. These aren’t really changes … they’re improvements. Look, if Gain and Tide can produce “New! Improved” versions of their laundry products, so can we.
But first, let’s have a quick overview:
First, and I’m talking about years ago, I gave you a liquid laundry detergent recipe that required grating, cooking, stirring and storing a thick gel-like substance in a 5-gallon bucket. I believe at one point I suggested keeping a baseball bat handy to stir the stuff before each use.
Then came the New! and Improved! powdered version where you could pretty much grate, mix and be done with it. Storage was quite simple and the results were pretty good, provided you could find the right bar soap to grate and you weren’t opposed to dedicating one cheese grater for soap only (the stuff would be nasty in mac ‘n cheese). Continue reading
Everything I know about buying and selling clothes on consignment I owe to my friend Kathleen, a remarkably well-dressed woman. She shops exclusively in consignment stores, but only those that are located in upscale areas. And boy, can she dress. She’s a consignment seller, too. In fact, I’ve known Kathleen to buy an outfit from one of her favorite consignment stores for a special occasion, then turn around and sell it back into consignment the next day. See what I mean? She’s very clever.
The consignment process is simple. The store sets its criteria for accepting merchandise, and sets the price—usually 50 percent of the new retail price. Expect a consignment shop to have very high standards for what they will accept: Must be a current style, must be brought in clean and must have no visible wear, holes or stains.
If you are a seller and your items meet the store’s criteria, your items will be put on the sales floor and displayed for 30 to 60 days. Once sold, you will receive 30 to 50 percent of the purchase price depending on that store’s policy. Continue reading
Your 780 credit score might not be as great as you think it is. It all depends on which credit score you’re talking about.
If you’re referring to a FICO score of 780 out of 850, that’s excellent but 780 is only so-so on the VantageScore model, which tops out at 990.
The eight most common credit scores used by lenders and consumers, range from as low as 150 to as high as 990. The most commonly used credit score (used by 90% of lenders and others who use credit scoring) is your FICO score (MyFico.com). Then the three major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian and Equifax each have their own scores. TransUnion’s TransRisk score ranges from 300 to 850 and the Equifax Credit Score ranges from 280 to 850. Meanwhile, one of Experian’s scores ranges from 360 to 840 while another goes from 330 to 830. And then there’s the score the bureaus created together—the VantageScore—which ranges from 501 to 990. Continue reading
Think you’ve cut your expenses all you possibly can? You might be wrong. Check out these simple ways you can keep more of your hard-earned money over the next 12 months.
Unhook the cable. Make a one-year commitment to living without cable television. If you can’t bear the thought of missing your favorite shows, consider the rapidly expanding website Hulu.com where you can watch hundreds of popular TV shows like “Family Guy,” “House,” and “The Office,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” reality shows like “The Biggest Loser” and “Top Chef,” news clips including those from “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams,” tons of shows from Fox News, Home and Garden TV and the Food Channel, too. The free option gives you limited access or upgrade to premium and for $7.99 a month you get streaming of all current season episodes from hundreds of shows. J.D. Roth, founder of GetRichSlowly.org, says he and his wife cut back their $65-a-month deluxe cable package to the $12-a-month basic cable service, which offers local broadcast channels plus a handful of random cable channels. Now they use the free Hulu option, Netflix, iTunes and the public library. A great and budget friendly device is the Roku “To be honest,” says J.D., “we don’t miss cable at all. It’s great having $53 extra each month to spend on things that are more important to us, like travel.” Annual savings: $600
For those without a SmartTV or who don’t want to be confined to the computer, there is a great budget friendly device called a “Roku” which plugs into your TV and works with the internet in your home to allow you to stream thousands of movies and TV shows for free. You can also connect it with your existing Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime account for a big screen experience. A Roku costs $49.99 for the base model and up to $100 for all the bells and whistles. Learn more at Roku.com. Continue reading
When I was a kid, vacation meant four kids crammed into the back seat of a sedan, poking and elbowing one another while counting the miles between rest stops.
Things have changed dramatically since then. But even with onboard DVDs, spacious minivans, air travel, cruises and theme parks, family vacations can be either delightful or disastrous. It all depends on the care you devote to research and planning.
Time and money. Quality is more important than quantity. Instead of trying to stretch your available cash over the time you can be away, consider the money you have to spend first. Then divide by a reasonable daily budget to determine how many days you can be gone. Continue reading