How to Give Yourself a $2,000 Raise in a Hurry

If there’s one thing that I love about you, my loyal readers, it’s how responsive you are. Sometimes you like what you read, other times not so much. Now and then you simply need more information. But no matter what, I can always count on hearing from you. Which brings me to what I wrote on pulling the plug on subscription pay-TV. It brought a huge response.

According to this 2012 article from NPD Group, the average pay-TV bill was predicted to hit $123 per month by 2015—more than $1,400 a year—and will hit $200 ($2,400 a year) in 2020. So far the predictions are right on the money.

For many, that’s money that could be better used to build an emergency fund or pay off debt. No wonder that column struck a chord with so many readers.

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The most-asked question had to do with the need for an antenna to receive free, local HD broadcasting. Which kind? Which one works best?

As I was fielding your messages, my husband and I were in the process of relocating. In 2015, we moved from California to northern Colorado. What a change from big city life in Orange County to a little village boasting a population of just 18,000. And what a perfect opportunity to test antennas to find the best way to enjoy free TV and quality programming in our new location. Read more

Coffee Hacks, Tips, Tricks, and Copycat Pumpkin Spice Latte

Whenever I write about my love of coffee that admittedly has turned me into a coffee snob, reader feedback is as enthusiastic as it is voluminous. I’m happy to know I’m not alone in my snobbery.

 

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Many of you bring up interesting points—questions, too. Like what to do with brewed coffee that is no longer ideally fresh but too good to throw down the drain. Others want to know how to make your own cappuccino, lattes, and even the “steamer,” made popular by Starbucks—surprisingly containing no coffee at all.

Short of purchasing an espresso machine that uses high-pressure steam to make espresso and has a gizmo that steams the milk as well, there are ways we can improvise to create reasonable facsimiles of our favorite coffee drinks.

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How to Afford Big Ticket Items

Finally, you have a couple of months where things are going well. The bills get paid on time and you actually have money left at the end of the month. Then Pow! Without warning, the water heater bursts, the car breaks down, and the first half of the property tax bill is past due—and suddenly you’re broke.

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How can you possibly plan or budget for life’s big-ticket items? Many people believe it just can’t be done, that they have no choice but to rely on their credit cards to cover the cost of emergencies—whether it’s something they should have known was coming or not.  Read more

Use This for That in the Kitchen to Reduce Clutter and Save Money

Over the years I have been uniquely privileged to sit under the personal tutelage of world-famous gourmet cooks the likes of Julia Child, Christopher Kimball, Martin Yan, and Jacques Pepin.

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Currently, I have standing appointments with Ina Garten, Ree Drummond, Molly Yeh, and Alton Brown. They come to my home and demonstrate every technique imaginable while I sit, front-row-center in front of the television. Or sometimes my coaches show up on my iPad right there on my kitchen counter, where they walk me step-by-step through recipes and techniques.

They’ve taught me the importance of three things: fresh ingredients, the right equipment and a lot of practice. Which brings me to the topic of today’s column: the right equipment. Read more

Best Inexpensive Home Dehumidifiers and How to Choose

Humidity, or the lack thereof, is a popular topic this time of year. Where I live in northern Colorado, it’s dry! We have like no humidity. Well, not exactly, but it averages in the low mid-20 percent during the summer and fall months. We have a humidifier in our home, and it runs 24/7 year-round for health and comfort.

Recently, lots of readers have inquired about how to deal with the opposite—high humidity, which can get pretty miserable. A dehumidifier can be a godsend for those who live in high humidity areas to remove excess moisture from indoor air.

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What is a dehumidifier?

Think of a dehumidifier as a vacuum that sucks the air from a room, removing the moisture and blowing dry air back into the room again. The condensation drips into a collection tank inside the machine that must be emptied from time to time.

Many people find that a dehumidifier works together with the air conditioning system to keep the rooms in a home comfortable even on the hottest days with super high humidity. Others rely on a dehumidifier in place of an air conditioner.

Dehumidifiers come in a variety of sizes, typically rated according to how many square feet they can dehumidify and how many pints of water they can produce in a day. Most home dehumidifiers are controlled by thermostats and humidity sensors so you can make the room as hot and dry as you wish.

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Simple 15-Minute Projects to Slash Your Utility Bills

Here’s some good news: At least 120 utility companies have lowered electric, gas, or water rates due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which cut the corporate rate from 35% to 21%. Utility companies are passing on the tax savings in the form of lower rates for customers.

I hope your utility companies are among that 120 and by now have let you know that your rates have gone down, or that they will be very soon. But don’t assume there’s nothing else you can do to stop spending so much of your hard-earned money on utility bills!

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So exactly how can you lower your utility bills? Check out these six projects each of which can be completed in 15-minutes or less, requiring no advanced skills or special equipment. Soon you’ll be keeping more of your hard-earned money in your pocket—not your utility providers’.

Ready? … Set … Go!

Hot water-saving showerhead

If you multi-task while waiting for your shower to warm up—making the bed or pot of coffee—the hot water could have been running for minutes, wasting water and adding unnecessary dollars to your utility bills.

The Ladybug Showerhead adapter saves the hot water. Ladybug is so smart, it senses the moment the water is warm and stops the flow to a tiny trickle. When you’re ready, just flip a switch to restart the normal flow.

This adapter saves $75 in hot water costs plus 2,700 gallons of water each year, based on a family of three showering daily and saving one minute of hot water per shower.

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You Paid How Much for Your First Computer?!

I just read something that made me laugh outloud—mostly because it’s funny, but also because it is poignantly true.

“I wonder what my kids are going to tell their kids … ‘It was so rough back in my day. I didn’t get a phone ’til 4th grade and sometimes the wifi didn’t always work upstairs!’”

You’re laughing too, aren’t you! Well, I want to add one more thing: “And back then a computer cost more than a thousand dollars!” I can visualize those kids of the future, slack-jawed at the thought of having to pay that much money for a computer. Unthinkable. Right? Do you recall how much your first computer cost?

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Over the years, I have owned no fewer than eight computers—mostly because I just beat them to death, But also because I’ve convinced myself that as a writer, I need to be on the cutting edge of technology.

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The Useful Life of Spice plus How to Repurpose at the End

When I packed up my kitchen for our big move a few years ago, I was embarrassed to discover what I had accumulated in the spice drawer.

I’m pretty sure there were a couple bottles of something or other in there that were certified antiques, pre-dating the Nixon administration. And that ground allspice? I think the sell-by date was 50 A.D.

 

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Do spices expire?

The useful life of spices and dried herbs vary but you don’t have to worry about them going bad like other foods. The problem, however, is that they can lose flavor, which is the reason we use them at all.

A bottle of curry powder you’ve had for an untold number of years won’t make you sick. But it won’t be as potent and flavorful as when it was fresh. Spices, especially once ground, degrade over time.

As I researched to get to the bottom of this question, I found a reference to an unsupported rule of thumb floating around out there that says we should use or toss herbs and spices after six-months. What?! That seems a bit short to me. I sure can’t afford to purge my spice drawer twice a year,  which prompted me to check further with more reliable resources.

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