Posted by Peggy Farber on 12/21/2016

Who doesn't like to save money? A penny saved is a penny earned and there are some quick and easy do-it-yourself tips that you can do around your home to help the savings add up. 1. Did you know a shorter dryer hose will make your dryer run more efficiently? You could save up to $25 a year by just trimming the dryer hose. Make sure to trim the hose length just long enough to pull the dryer a few feet out from the wall. 2. Keep the closet doors closed. Not only does it make your room look neater it will also keep you from heating or cooling more square footage. You could save up to $50 a year by just closing the closet doors. 3. Check the water heater and make sure it is set to 120 degrees.  You may have to wait a few minutes for the shower to heat up but you could also save up to $30 or more per year on gas, oil, electricity, or propane. 4. Replace all your light bulbs with energy-efficient halogen bulbs, rather than incandescents. Just by doing this you could save a whopping $20 per fixture on electricity over three years. 5. Chim chiminey, chim chim cher-ee! Get your chimney swept in the summer. Having your chimney done in the off-season will save you money by getting an off-season price. You could save approximately $50 per flue. Just doing these simple tips can save you hundreds of dollars a year.  




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Posted by Peggy Farber on 11/16/2016

Greening up your home is not only good for the environment it is also good on your wallet. According to the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. generates about 208 million tons of municipal solid waste a year, that's more than 4 pounds per person per day. Here are some minor changes you can implement at home that will add up to real benefits. Green up your appliances Replace your old refrigerator and save as much as $150 a year. Appliances are the biggest drain on a home's total energy bill. Replace appliances older than 10 years with energy-efficient models that bear the "Energy Star" logo. Energy Star-qualified appliances use 10%-50% less energy and water than standard models. Take Your Temperature Use a programmable thermostat to keep your home's temperature on a schedule. Program the thermostat in cold weather and keep it higher in warm weather. Set the timer to only change the temperature when you are home. During the colder months, each degree below 68°F saves 3%-5%. You may also want to consider replacing older furnaces. Today's furnaces are about 25% more efficient than they were in the 1980s. Use Water Wisely Save every time you flush by installing low-flow toilets. They use only 1.6 gallons per flush, compared to 3.5 gallons per flush for pre-1994 models. Save water at your faucets by installing aerators. This could cut your annual water consumption by 50%. Let there be Light Using Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) will consume 66% less energy. CFLs may cost a little more but they last 10 times longer than a standard incandescent bulb. In dollars and cents, replacing a 100-watt incandescent bulb with a 32-watt CFL can save $30 in energy costs over the life of the bulb. Practice Plastic Placement Did you know Americans throw away some 100 billion polyethylene plastic bags? — Plastics (grocery, trash and sandwich bags to name a few) are made from petroleum. Plastics are considered one of the main contributors to global warming. Always make sure to reduce, re-use and recycle your plastics. There are many more ways to live green. If you are looking for more ideas check out National Geographic's Green Guide. Please share your tips for saving money, energy and living green.





Posted by Peggy Farber on 6/15/2016

Solar panels producing energy Everywhere you turn people are saying "go green". More and more people are looking for alternatives to heat and power their homes. One alternative is solar energy. There are both benefits and pitfalls to solar energy. The Benefits •Solar power is predictable. It is easy to predict how much electricity your system will produce because the amount of sunlight that hits your roof doesn't vary that much. This means it is also easy to predict how much you will save in electric bills. •Solar power will lower your electric bill. Solar power will offset the usage of conventional electricity especially in places where the price for grid power is high — like California, Hawaii and much of the northeast. •Solar power is safe and clean. Solar energy systems produce emissions-free electricity. •Installing solar panels may also help you qualify for a tax credit. For more information on energy tax credits click here. The Pitfalls •Solar power can be predictable but it is also variable. In other words, it can be predicted on a long term basis but not on a daily or even weekly basis. For example, solar panels won’t produce electricity at night. •Solar power can be a more expensive alternative in the short term. The price of solar panels continue to fall but there are many aggressive financing options. If your state has no tax incentives and electricity prices are relatively low solar would be an expensive option for you. •Some homes just don't work. The roof must be in good condition with an unobstructed southern exposure. If the house is surrounded by trees and tall buildings solar panels will probably not work. A ground-mounted system is an option only if you have sufficient space in your yard.





Posted by Peggy Farber on 2/10/2016

Groceries can be one of the biggest monthly expenses in a family's budget. It seems the prices just keep going up and up but there are ways to slim down your weekly grocery bill. Here are some strategies to help you save at the grocery store. Make a list: If you want to avoid impulse make a list and stick to it. If you don't have a list you will buy items that you simply do not need. You may also forget to purchase the items you need causing unnecessary trips back to the store. Look for expiration dates:  Avoid buying items that will go bad quickly. Pay attention to expiration dates especially on things like milk, meat, eggs, and yogurt. Look for meat markdowns: Butchers mark down their meat either early in the morning or in the evening saving you 30 to 60 percent. If you ask most butchers will tell you when they mark down their meat. Buy in bulk: When you find things like cereals, tinned goods, rice, beans, pasta, coke, toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, toilet paper etc. on sale buy in bulk. You might also want to shop at warehouse stores for these items. Buy generic: Generic store brands can save you money. Most generics are just like or very close to the name brand product without the hefty price tag.




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Posted by Peggy Farber on 10/21/2015

Imagine if you could make your student loan disappear. According to American Student Assistance, a non-profit that aims to educate young people about money say it is possible. Both the federal and state government, as well as some non-profit organizations offer loan "forgiveness" programs. Do the right paperwork and you could be loan free. While there is no single comprehensive listing of loan forgiveness programs, there are programs for some specific professions. Here are a few of those: Law school graduates who become a district attorney or a public defender are eligible to apply for the John R. Justice student loan repayment program. This program pays up to $4,000 a year towards an eligible applicant's debt up to the maximum of $60,000 per graduate. The National Health Service Corps offers an even more generous program for health professionals. This program repays up to $60,000 in debt in just two years for students working in medicine, dentistry or mental health in underserved communities. Graduates who are willing to work part-time on medical research could eliminate up to $35,000 in debt per year with a program funded by The National Institutes of Health. If you are willing to trade a few years of service for loan forgiveness you are in luck. There are various federally funded loan repayment programs for fire fighters, teachers, nurses, librarians, speech pathologists and employees of non-profits.  The programs don't typically ask graduates to work for free but they might receive less pay in order to repay the loan. The value of the loan repayment is likely to more than compensate for the lost wages. Because there is no comprehensive list of forgiveness programs it pays to do your research. There are many organization's websites that can help students find the right fit.