The gluten-free craze has overtaken the supermarket aisles. Gluten-free products, once only available in specialty food stores, are now featured prominently in nearly every category of grain-based products.

While striving to live a healthier lifestyle and make better food choices is an admirable goal, you should exercise caution before jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon.

What You Need to Know About Gluten

What Is Gluten?

First of all, many people don’t even know what gluten is, let alone why they should be eliminating it from their diet. Gluten is a naturally-occurring protein in wheat, spelt, and a few other grains. About one in 100 people have celiac disease — a condition in which the body treats gluten as an allergen. Some people are highly allergic and must eliminate all gluten from their diet, and can even react negatively if they come into contact with it. Others may not be strictly diagnosed with celiac, but have various degrees of allergic symptoms. This is called gluten sensitivity and is hard to diagnose. [ continue reading... ]

We’re deep into the heart of summer, which means county fairs are popping up everywhere. Our local fair happened last week, and my kids were excited to go. I know exactly how they feel, as I too have great childhood memories of going to the fair. As a parent, however, it usually means dropping a lot of cash in one day — and wondering if it was really worth it.

Luckily, my experiences have taught me how to maximize our family fun while keeping the cost from making me feel like I just got off the Tilt-O-Whirl. [ continue reading... ]

The other day, one of my good friends was telling me about his money situation. To put it simply, he was waiting on his next paycheck to be able to pay for his son’s baseball pictures.

I felt kind of bad for him, and my initial reaction was to start dishing out financial advice. You know: Tell him how he can stop living paycheck to paycheck, and that kind of thing.

But I bit my tongue.

My friend wasn’t looking for my sympathy or my advice. In fact, he’s one of the most frugal people I know. He already knows what to do. What he needed was somebody who would just listen; listen without judging; listen without telling him how he should be living his life.

While driving home, I was extremely grateful I’d kept my mouth shut and been a good friend. I haven’t always done this, though, so I started to think about how often I dish out and receive unsolicited advice.

Are you guilty of the same thing? [ continue reading... ]

Now that we know we’re moving across the country again, it’s time to figure out how to make it happen. This will be our third cross-country move, but it will be different from the past.

That’s because we now have nice things. In the past, we’ve been able to call up UPack or PODS and just load up our stuff. Now we have nicer furniture that we’re not very good at moving ourselves. (It’s heavy!) We also have oddly-shaped artwork that needs to be crated.

It’s a completely different ball game now. Since it’s not about just paying for 10 linear feet on a truck, and then getting rid of everything that doesn’t fit, we’re looking for full-service moving quotes. Here’s what I’ve found: [ continue reading... ]

When I was a pre-teen in the early 90s, I used to roam the mall with a pack of girlfriends once a week.

I quickly discovered that the fun I had spending money on new scrunchies, slap bracelets, and Lisa Frank notebooks seemed to diminish as my money supply got lower. Whatever pair of earrings or soft pretzel I bought with the last of my money never seemed worth the price.

According to a new study, there was a reason for my dissatisfaction: a phenomenon called the bottom-dollar effect.

Basically, when we spend the last of our resources on a product, we end up feeling much less satisfied with it. Here’s a breakdown of the bottom-dollar effect and how you can harness it to make better spending decisions: [ continue reading... ]

Should You Stop Carrying Cash?

by Jessica Sommerfield · 31 comments

Welcome to the age of electronic fund transfers, debit and credit cards, and online banking.

Carrying actual cash in your wallet is now optional, while paying with plastic has become the convenient choice. A recent survey from Bankrate indicated that 9% of Americans carry no cash at all.

Of those who do carry it, the majority carry no more than $50, while nearly half carry less than $20. One of the main reasons for this shift are the many advantages of paying with plastic, including the ability to earn points and rewards.

Do you think carrying cash is outdated?

Though ATMs are seemingly ubiquitous, what happens if you aren’t near one? Carrying some cash in your wallet in case of emergencies seems like a good idea, but how much? [ continue reading... ]