suits and ties
We’re all told that appearances shouldn’t matter — we shouldn’t judge other people by their appearances or make a priority of keeping up with the Joneses. But you’d think that we wouldn’t have to keep reinforcing these beliefs on appearance if they are such universal truths. We’d have no problem avoiding spending money on things that really just amount to keeping up our appearances.

The Value of Appearances

A lot of personal finance gurus draw a hard line against spending money on appearances. I can think of a few who only buy clothes from second-hand stores, drive cars that are more than ten years old and go to great lengths not to spend money on making them look good.
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Do you have your costume and your child’s costume yet? Halloween is only a few weeks away, and things can get expensive if you have to buy everything last minute at the store. After all, dressing up can set you back $50-100 depending on how many children you have and if you are dressing up too. Here are some easy solutions to save money on costumes this year.

Shop from What You Have

I scored two adorable dog Gymboree costumes for my two girls this Halloween on super clearance. The only problem is that I shopped while I was pregnant, and even though I bought a 6-12 month costume for my would be 8-month old, the costume is too small. Buying the same costume on eBay would cost me over $40. It then hit me that I had the perfect alternative already sitting in my children’s closet. I had a Dalmatian print dress, which is a little too big for my baby, and a homemade black tutu from last Halloween. Bam! A free alternative to my costume problem. I bought Dalmatian dog ears and a tail from a seller in China through eBay for $3.

Think about what you already have on hand before you go shopping. An old prom dress can be turned into a great costume, such as zombie prom queen. Last year, I dressed my toddler in a black dance leotard and the homemade tutu and a string of my faux pearls, and she was Audrey Hepburn. It’s Halloween, anything goes.
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Handing over the keys when buying a house
My entire family got involved when I first considered buying a house, since I have the luck of being related to real estate agents, investors, and other experts that are more than happy to give advice about buying a property — even before I ask.

The first thing they asked me was exactly how long I expected to stay in the house. Though I didn’t know the exact amount of time, they wanted to make sure that I’d own the house for at least five years.

Why’s that? What’s the five year rule for buying a house? 
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no fee investing
Advertisements for no fee trades on stock purchases are everywhere, but the catch is that you must deposit large sums of money in order to take advantage of the deal. How can young adults, who are just entering the workforce, realize their retirement saving goals? Luckily, when it comes to investing, no fee investing is beginning to rival large corporations such as TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab. Not only is no fee investing catching on, trading directly from a smartphone with a few taps is providing opportunities for new investors to gradually enter the market.

The introductions of Acorn and Robinhoob revolutionized the way people save and invest with minimal fees, and the term minimal is used because Acorn charges one dollar a month to use their services, but the value is evident.
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cooking spaghetti
Does it feel like your grocery bill keeps growing? Sorry, but you can’t blame it on inflation. Food-at-home prices dropped 1.6 percent since last July — the sharpest decline since 2010. Maybe you’re eating healthier or haven’t been as diligent about shopping sales ads and using digital coupons, rewards cards, or rebate apps. Or maybe, like me, too many convenience foods are creeping into your kitchen.

Convenient prepared foods – even their healthy versions – are so… convenient. It’s nice to have pre-cut, pre-mixed, prepared foods for the times our schedules get a little hectic, but they can quickly become an excuse to get lazy about food preparation — and jack up the grocery bill.

Back in the ‘olden’ days, folks didn’t have the option of prepared breads, sauces, dressings, or meals-in-a-box. They used basic staples to make everything they needed. I’m certainly glad I have the option of buying marinara sauce instead of having to make it every time I want some pasta, but I think it’s time to bring some old-fashioned frugality back into our kitchens. Here’s how we can do it.
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jogging for exercise
Years ago, I had an elderly patient I loved to visit. She had a huge personality, a quick mind (and tongue), and a sense of humor that would leave you gasping for air. She was just one of those people that others loved to spend time with. She also had the worst case of diabetes I’d ever encountered. She was taking huge doses of four types of insulin and needed to check her blood sugar six times a day. During one visit, I made a call to her doctor to discuss her steadily rising blood sugars. “I can’t put her on anything else,“ he said. “She’s going to have to exercise to help bring it down.” Well, for most folks, a little exercise wasn’t such a big deal. But for this gal, even getting to the bathroom was a chore. She was blind, severely obese, and had difficulty breathing to boot.

I broke the news to her, and told her we’d do it together. We started small, mostly because we had to. We started with taking three steps every time I came to see her. We ventured outside on nice days to pull weeds out of her flowerbeds for 10 minutes. She did the pots; I did the beds. It wasn’t much, but we keep at it everyday.
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