It doesn’t happen often, but sooner or later many homeowners are faced with replacing their heating and cooling systems with newer models. This is a big-ticket project that takes a significant amount of funds from the household budget. But there are advantages to new equipment. If your central air-conditioning system or furnace is over 15 years old, newer equipment will be much more energy-efficient. It will burn less fossil fuels, which will reduce your carbon footprint. New equipment will make your house feel more comfortable and it will help you pay less for energy. But how much less? Figuring out your monthly, annual or life-of-the-product savings gets tricky because energy-efficient products have higher up-front costs than standard products. One of the best ways to judge savings is to calculate the payback period. That's how long it will take you to make up the difference between the cost of highly efficient equipment and standard equipment based on the monthly energy savings. Once you hit the payback mark, the monthly and annual savings continue. Fortunately, there are online calculators that can help you determine your payback period. But to use them, you will first need to determine some information.
Moving can be exciting. There is the promise of new friendships, exploring a different city, and creating a new life. It's like going on your own little personal adventure. However, before any of that can happen, you have to actually pack your items and make the move. This brings you to the inevitable fork in the road where you must decide whether to hire someone to move you professionally or do it yourself, and consider and the costs associated with each. Before you decide, let's take a few minutes and unpack the two (see what I did there?), shall we?
You practice yoga, drink green juice and buy non-GMO snacks. But do you know what’s in your nail polish? If not, you might just be surprised. The truth is, while no nail polish can be chemical-free, there are five different additives included in some nail polish formulations – substances used for shine, durability, fluidity and more – that have been identified as allergenic, carcinogenic or just plain toxic! Fortunately, plenty of cosmetic companies have realized it’s possible to make an excellent nail polish without using some or all of these five nasty toxins. Many of these brands use the terms “3-Free” or “5-Free” to designate which of the chemicals on this list have been left out of their nail polish formulations; but with some luxury brands, it’s much more hush-hush – a hidden benefit that simply isn’t advertised. Never fear, we’ve done some research for you… just see below! What are these 5 frightening toxins you can live without? Toluene: (used to give nail polish a smooth finish) is a common solvent used for paint thinner, lacquer, glue and ink. It is also used as a gasoline additive and in jet fuel blends. Inhalation at low levels can cause confusion, light-headedness and nausea; while higher levels of exposure may harm your nervous system. Formaldehyde: (used as a hardener and preservative) is also used in the embalming of dead animals and humans, in the production of particle board and industrial resins and was recently designated as a “known… human carcinogen” by a US government program. It is a skin, eye and respiratory irritant.
People with excellent credit—which means FICO scores over 740—already get the best rates and highest credit lines available with deluxe credit cards. But how do you choose among various issuers to get the best combination of features and benefits if you have great credit? To do that effectively, you’ll need to focus on the features of these deluxe credit cards, based on your lifestyle and specific needs. And while we’ll provide a few examples of credit card carriers with those features, it’s for the purposes of illustration, not recommendation. In fact, because there are so many carriers to choose from, the focus here is what perks your great credit can offer rather than specific credit card companies. With this information, you can choose a credit card based on those perks and your needs. So here are three questions you should ask as you research. What kinds of perks should I be looking for in a credit card with my excellent credit? Gerri Detweiler, director of education for Credit.com, suggests choosing a card based on your spending habits. “The key to getting the right reward card is to really home in on your spending habits and the perks that will be the most valuable to you,” she explains. The two most popular types are cash-back and travel rewards cards, but which you choose depends on the type of reward that is most valuable to you.
With all of life's stresses, everyone needs a little time away now and again. Summer is approaching, and it's the perfect time to take a vacation, but unfortunately, many of us don’t have a lot of free time. We all talk about taking that dream vacation to Europe or the Caribbean. While that would be nice, sometimes just taking a few days off to decompress and regroup is what we really need. If you have limited time and a limited budget, you can still have a fantastic vacation. You just have to time it right and find the best deals. Airlines and resorts often offer discounted off-peak rates. So if you're looking to go to the Caribbean or Mexico in the middle of winter, chances are you're going to pay more. But if you want to escape to the tropics during the summer, you might get lucky.
When it comes to fashion, some people like to be right on-trend. They may consult fashion glossies such as Vogue, ELLE, Marie Claire and GQ. They may follow fashion bloggers, or frequent sites like Style.com that report on the top ready-to-wear and haute couture runway shows in New York, Paris and Milan. But whether you’re into the classics, or you’re an “of the moment” fashionista sporting the latest looks, most of us can’t afford to pay retail for a new wardrobe every season. So what’s a girl or guy to do? These days, there are many ways to buy designer clothing, jewelry and shoes for less – in some cases, much less. Best of all, you don’t have to live in a big city; an array of easy-to-use e-commerce sites has made “discount designer” shopping available to everyone.
Bloomberg reported this week that discount wireless services provider FreedomPop “has been in conversations with potential buyers for months” and could fetch more than $100 million. The company, which is backed by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom, could start receiving formal bids this week and is attracting interest from at least one Internet company and newcomers to the mobile industry. I’ll bet that most U.S. consumers have never heard of FreedomPop, but its rumored asking price is backed by some impressive momentum. It currently lays claim to 500,000 customers, and at its current pace of doubling its customer base every four to six months it will easily reach the 1-million user mark by the end of the year.
Once upon a time, if you were hosting a party or a holiday dinner for family or friends, you had only a few options for gracing your table with a lovely floral centerpiece. You could stop in at a local flower shop and pay a premium price; order an arrangement from a floral wire service such as FTD or Teleflora (complete with high delivery charges and middleman markups); or pick flowers from your own garden – if you were lucky enough to have one! Fortunately, these days, exquisite fresh flowers are available at supermarkets, grocery stores and local farmers’ markets. And it’s not just mundane carnations and red roses for sale. You can often find exotic and even imported flowers – all at an affordable price.
We told you in Part 1 of this article why you should try to avoid student debt and, instead, get scholarships. We showed you that it is possible to fund your entire education with scholarships and where to look. But, now that you know why your financial future depends on not going into massive student debt for college, how do you apply for the scholarships you need? Starting the Scholarship Application Process First, know that this will be hard work. Getting scholarships outside the schools you apply to or attend requires significant additional work. You must identify them and decide which you’ll invest energy into trying to get. “There are an abundance of outside scholarships,” says Brady Norvall, founder and chief education officer of FindaBetterU. Remember, though, don’t focus just on the big-dollar scholarships.
The cost of college continues to skyrocket, yet a college degree is required for many professional roles today. Moreover, average college students and their families can’t meet college costs with earnings or savings. So to finance college, students often take out loans and use credit cards, ending up with high post-graduation debt. To get the best return on your college investment, you need to avoid debt and in this two-part article, we tell you how. Student Debt Can Lower the ROI on Your College Education Outstanding student loan debt, including both federal and private student loans, currently totals almost $1.3 trillion. And the average student loan debt for the class of 2014 was $33,000, according to Mark Kantrowitz, publisher at Edvisors. In fact, student loan debt surpassed credit card debt in 2010. Yet, if you’re like most students, you’ll find that credit card debt is still excessive at graduation. In 2013, graduating students averaged $3,000 in credit card debt on top of their student loan debt.
Like most borrowers with student loan debt, you probably have multiple student loans, perhaps different types with several lenders. Managing those loans individually can become unwieldy and even stressful. Or you may need extended time to pay or more payment options. So, you’re considering consolidating your student loans to have a single loan with one payment. But is this the best solution for you? What should you know before you do? This article, which focuses primarily on federal student loan debt, will help you make the best choice for your situation.