getting better
Raised by an extremely frugal parent, I now enjoy freedoms like turning fans on full power when I want to (seriously, how much electricity does that really waste?) and not saving things that are clearly junk but might be able to be fixed or re-purposed in some way. Still, some of that extreme frugality my parents swore by stuck with me.

As an adult, I take pride in being frugal in sensible ways. For instance, I’ve recently started buying the majority of my clothes from thrift stores and online re-sale services, managing to save serious money on either brand-new or only lightly-used, quality-brand items. But sometimes, that’s still not enough to keep me from experiencing spending guilt.

I had a reality check the other day when I felt guilty for spending money on a few items off the clearance and thrift store racks that were for myself. Something that should have brought me joy – finding great deals on clothing I needed and loved – instead had me second-guessing. Why is this?
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Everyone knows by now to look for a coupon code online before you ring up the register, but when was the last time you actually took the time to look for one? An internet coupon code can save you a great deal of money on back-to-school clothes, cleaning supplies, and almost anything else you can buy on the internet. There are even toolbars you can install in your browser to ensure you’re getting the best deal during checkout. Are you really doing everything you can to save? Maybe it’s time to look at what else we can use an internet coupon code for.

Most people assume their internet provider can be lumped in with the gas and the electric bills. “Sure, they’re high, but they’re the only provider in our area.” That’s just not the case. Don’t settle on your cable company, since there are now many technologies that can feed data into your home. Look for satellite, DSL, and even wireless offerings from competing companies. And since you are a new customer to these other companies, you will be able to grab the new customer deals that almost every provider advertises on the internet.
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green beans
Whole Foods is commonly joked as the “Whole Paycheck Store,” and if you’ve ever shopped there, it’s easy to see why. The cost is so high that some people don’t even bother stepping into the store since Whole Foods seems to have higher prices than regular grocery stores.

Still, there are many different ways to stack coupons at Whole Foods to get popular and organic food items inexpensively, or even for free. Here are my tricks to save the most at Whole Foods.

Download the Whole Food’s Coupon App

Two months in a row I have gotten a $5 off of $20 produce coupon. I’ve used that coupon to stock up on whatever produce was the cheapest at the time. One time I only bought the two cheapest deals I could find – corn and mandarin oranges. My kids were a little sick of both after two weeks though!

Along with the Whole Food’s app, don’t forget to print coupons from their site and to grab their coupon books near the register.
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wallet full of money
I’ve been getting a lot of flack for how much I spend lately. I’ve been told I spend too much on a cause I’m involved with. I’ve been told I spend too much on going to the spa. I’ve been told I spend too much on travel.

It’s true that I like spending money, but just because I’m spending money doesn’t mean that I’m being totally irresponsible about it. What’s actually important is to figure out what really matters to you and your future.

So take a step back, and reconsider what you’re spending money on.

Once I did that, I realize that while I spend what other people might consider more than I should — or that I spend money on things that I shouldn’t — the reality is that I still pay myself first.
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new homes
The American dream is a goal we’ve all heard of at some point in our lives. This dream involves raising a family, building a successful career, and (most importantly some would have us believe) owning a home. Everybody dreams about owning a home and it’s marketed as your biggest asset in life.

But is owning a home really your biggest asset in life? You start paying the mortgage and equity begins to build, but you have to remember that the typical mortgage spans 30 years. Who really stays in their homes long enough to reach that 30-year mark to have their house become a full asset nowadays? With house maintenance, and the fluctuating value of the housing market coupled with how long someone stays in their home, a house can actually be a liability on the balance sheet and an expense on the income statement.

Think about it. The upkeep on a house is a constant. A good rule of thumb is to estimate maintenance at roughly 1% of the value of a home each year. Until the house is paid off, you have a mortgage that is debt, along with sunken costs of maintaining a functioning home such as water heater replacement or kitchen appliance replacement. That’s money down the drain just to maintain your homes value or increase it minimally.
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It’s always startling to get those bank letters in the mail that say “important information enclosed.” I got one last week notifying me that my account “may have been” compromised. As a precaution, my bank was sending me an entirely new debit card and number (my first chip card — a sign of how long I’ve had the old one). My old card was de-activated within a few days, and I had to call to activate the new card. As usual, the new pin number will be sent separately, which meant I couldn’t use an ATM if I needed to.

If you’ve ever had this happen before, it elicits all sorts of questions. Was there fraudulent activity on my account? Who ‘may have’ compromised my card, and when? Am I liable financially?

Although I haven’t had this happen frequently (if it does, it’s a good sign you need to re-examine your habits), I’ve learned a few things to keep in mind, going forward.
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