Emotional intimacy is the key to a healthy marriage and a precondition for developing financial harmony. The secret to creating emotional intimacy in your marriage is for each of you to meet the needs that are most important to the other. Emotional intimacy is key because it produces authentic trust and respect.


Studies show that married people who behave as true financial partners tend to do better financially and emotionally. So if you haven’t already, you and your spouse need to make a commitment to each other to become equal financial partners in your marriage. This can be a verbal or written commitment, whichever suits you best. For some spouses this step of commitment will mean giving up control. For others it will require them to get involved.
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I am often asked to review books about frugality and thrift. Once in a while, one hits the mark. From the minute I pulled The Frugal Foodie Cookbook from its package, I was hooked. From “Dinners on a Dime,” to “Snacks on a Shoestring,” I found myself reading these recipes the way one might read a magazine.

While thumbing through this adorable cookbook, a versatile recipe for baking mix (similar to Bisquick®) leapt off the page and captured my attention. With breakfast on my mind, what follows are terrific frugal recipes to help you get started in the morning.  Read more

Dear Mary,

While my sister was on staff at a summer camp last year, she did not launder her bedding frequently. Now that the bedding has been washed many times since being home, I’ve noticed that the pillowcases and comforter are dingy and do not look clean even though they’re fresh from the dryer. Is there anything that will brighten these dingy items? Lexi, email

Some rights reserved by Average Jane

Some rights reserved by Average Jane

Dear Lexi,

You don’t mention if these linens are white or colors, so I will assume the latter. If I were you, I would fill the washer with hot water; add 1/2 cup Cascade automatic dishwasher powder, one cup of Borax and your regular laundry detergent. Once dissolved, add the linens and allow the machine to agitate for a few minutes before turning the machine off and allowing them to soak overnight. Complete the full cycle in the morning. I would also hang them out in the bright sunshine to dry if that’s possible this time of year where you live. Read more

I know I go on and on about my laundry detergent recipe, but I get so excited when a product does a great job and costs just pennies. What I’m really loving now is hearing from readers with their feedback.

Some rights reserved by shawnzrossi

Some rights reserved by shawnzrossi

LAUNDRY DETERGENT CLEANS UP. Before I began repainting my kitchen—including the floor—I wanted to wipe everything down. I made up a batch of Mary’s laundry detergent and added a couple of ounces of the detergent to a quart of hot water. I used this and an old rag to clean the walls and woodwork. It worked like a charm, and with very little effort. I tried it on the floor (painted plywood subfloor), with the same result. I wondered if it would work on windows, and tried it on a really filthy one. It did a great job, though it required a little elbow grease because the window was so gross. Edie, Maine

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So, how are those summer vacation plans coming?

If things aren’t looking so good for you to get away from home this year, it’s probably not because you don’t have the time. According to a survey by Harris Interactive Inc. the American worker left an average of 9.2 days of vacation unused in 2012. That’s up from 6.2 unused days in 2011.

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More likely, you keep pushing a vacation to the back burner because you just don’t have the money. After all, a vacation can be very expensive. These days, you’ll spend thousands for a family trip to Disney World—plus airfare if you don’t happen to live in Orlando.

Of course, there are any number of ways to cut the cost of a vacation, but could you get that cost down as low as $150 per adult? You just might be able to pull it off if you change your expectations a bit and adopt a new kind of vacation attitude. Read more

If the word budget is like nails on a chalkboard, you’ve got a friend in me. I know the feeling.

For many years I wouldn’t have anything to do with a budget because I couldn’t stand the idea of someone telling me how to spend my money. That’s how I defined a budget. It was a whip disguised as a formula with every intent of beating me into submission.

Photo Credit: StockMonkeys.com

Instead, what I learned from coming back from the edge of financial doom and finding my way back to solvency is that a budget is the ticket to financial happiness. I still don’t like the word, so I’ve replaced it with Rule Five: Tell Your Money Where to Go, from my book 7 Money Rules for Life: How to Take Control of Your Financial Future (Revell, 2012).

Like a roadmap or blueprints for your dream house, a Spending Plan shows where you are and how to get where you want to be. In its simplest form, a Spending Plan is a sheet of paper on which you write your income for the coming month and what you will do with every dollar of it. You “prespend” your paycheck on paper before you part with any of it.
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After reading the recent study on the health benefits of adopting a Mediterranean type diet, I was thrilled to receive this Greek-inspired recipe from our friends at eMeals. Not only is this delightful meal tasty, but it’s quick and easy to prepare, too.

With just eight ingredients, you can have a perfectly portioned, flavorful meal on the table in less than 30 minutes. And who doesn’t like that?!


eMeals has been kind enough to give away a free 1 year subscription to one lucky reader. Click here to enter.

The many eMeals’ meal plans are available to Everyday Cheapskate subscribers at a reduced price. Take advantage of the special offer of 15 percent off an eMeals’ membership. Use coupon code DebtProofLiving when checking out at eMeals.comRead more

Dear Mary,

What do you think about settling a debt with a creditor? I recently agreed to one for a credit card and the bank did notify me that the forgiven debt will be considered income by the IRS. I will have to file taxes on this amount using form 1099C. The bank will report the zero balance to the credit agencies, my credit report will read “settled, zero balance” and the account closed. Was this a bad move on my part? Cindy, California

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Dear Cindy,

Given the information I have, here is what will happen: Yes, you will be required to pay taxes, both federal and state, on the amount remaining—just as if that was money you earned. By not repaying, it is money your bank gave to you. That is the law and your bank must report this to the IRS. It will also be reported to all of the credit bureaus and will stay on your credit report for seven years.   Read more