Clothing is not optional, but spending a lot of money on it is, says author Gregory Karp in his book, Living Rich by Spending Smart: How to Get More of What You Really Want.
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So, just off the top of your head, how much would you say that your family spends on clothing in a year? According to the U.S. Consumer Expenditure Survey, a family of four spends on average $2,850 a year on apparel and services like dry cleaning, to keep that apparel looking good. Wow. That’s $240 a month—a major expense in any family’s budget.
Karp offers seven easy ways to cut that expense without having to take fashion risks for yourself or sending the kids off to school looking odd and frumpy. Continue reading
So what’s cheap, intense, uniquely delicious and hardly ever considered a main dish? Quite possibly the title of this column gave it away, but the answer, of course, is onions.
Dear Mary: My sisters and I have $10,000 we would like to invest to cover our mother’s funeral expenses when they occur. She does not have life insurance or any savings. She is 62 and living on disability at this time. What would be the best investment strategy for us? She is not currently ill. Thank you. Bonita W., South Dakota
Dear Bonita: This is money that needs to be kept in a safe place where it is fairly liquid (so you can have access to it within just a few days) with enough growth or interest to at least stay ahead of inflation. I believe that if I were you I’d go the ultra-cautious route and place your mother’s money in an online savings account (OSA) like Ally Bank. You will earn precious little interest, but there are no fees or minimum deposit requirements. You’re not going to double your money at that rate, but you won’t have to worry or squabble amongst yourselves over lost funds.
Alternatively, you may want to look into prepaying her final arrangements. There are great benefits to doing this now while she is young and in good health. She can participate in making the decisions. And it will be much easier for you and your sisters as well, without the emotions and sense of urgency should you wait until the end to make those final decisions. Speak with the people at a local funeral home in your area to learn more. Continue reading
Today’s first great reader tip makes me laugh. Imagine a chicken standing to attention in a Bundt pan. This is the best idea I’ve heard all day and I think you’ll agree.
STAND THE BIRD. To roast a whole chicken evenly and more quickly, set your Bundt pan on a cookie sheet. Now stand that chicken over the center cone of the Bundt pan. Roast as you usually do or at 375F until done. A standing chicken browns more evenly and cooks faster. Priscilla G., email
photo credit: justapinch.com
NO MORE UGLY. I bought some shoes that I love at a clearance sale, only problem was the ugly color. I’m hard to fit, so I bought them anyway. I stopped by the shoe repair shop on the way home and bought a can of color spray ($4 for a 4 oz. can). I sprayed the shoes black and they turned out beautifully. The secret is to spray lightly and cover up the soles with masking tape. Recently I sprayed a handbag ($220 marked down to $20 because of the ugly color) that is gorgeous. Kim L., North Carolina Continue reading
Before you cut up an expired credit card—or toss that silly fake one you got as junk mail—consider all the great things you can do with it!
1. Bookmark. It’ll keep your place and act as a handy straightedge for underlining or highlighting.
photo credit: financialhack.com
2. Glass scraper. A credit card is just the right size to scrape ice from your car’s windows and algae from the walls of an aquarium.
3. Neat caulk. Run the rounded corner of a credit card across the caulk bead for that professional look.
4. Unlock doors. Certain types of locked doors can be easily unlocked by slipping the card between the jam and short bolt, and coaxing the door open.