Cheap or Frugal: The Art of Saving Money

What’s the difference between being frugal and being cheap? Is one better than the other?

A lot of people equate the two terms as being the same, but while similar, they are actually quite different.

A frugal person will save money by assessing what is needed versus what is wanted, but unnecessary. A cheap person will just not spend much, even if the quality would be sub-par.

There are a lot of ways you can be frugal in your life and save money without giving up quality.

Living Below Your Means

Everyone knows that one family that has it all. New car, big house, all the best electronics and gadgets.

The reality is that family is likely just like you; they spend most of their income every month, evening out their income vs expenditures.

The difference is that they spend it on stuff they may not need. They have the

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Tax Credits and Exemptions for Energy Use

Tax season is upon us, and it’s time to start checking our figures and cashing in on any tax credits we may have.

Tax credits related to energy use and production can be claimed by residential, commercial, and industrial consumers, and can include many categories, such as wind, solar, wood stoves, and fuel use.

In most cases, the tax credits are a sort of rebate for reducing energy use or for installing renewable energy systems.

Texas Tax Credits

Texas corporations may qualify for a franchise tax credit if they have installed a solar or wind device that generates electricity.

Businesses that construct, sell, or install wind or solar installations are exempt from the franchise tax.

Property owners, both commercial and residential, can be exempt from property tax increases related to the installation of renewable energy systems such as wind and solar power.

Other State Tax Credits

Maryland

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Last Minute Thanksgiving Savings

Looking to keep your turkey day costs down? The average Thanksgiving Day dinner costs about $50, but that can go way up if you’re not careful and not watching the sneaky ways other costs get you.

Use What You Have

If you’ve already got some Thanksgiving dinner options in your pantry, use them rather than buying new.

Got a bag of russet potatoes from last week’s dinner? Use ‘em! A few frozen veggie sides? Zap ‘em in the microwave! It’s a great way to save money and reduce hassle in the time leading up to Thanksgiving.

Potluck Style

Another great way to save on food costs is to have Thanksgiving dinner potluck style. Whoever is hosting can make the turkey and everyone visiting brings a side dish.

This also helps with managing portions, as you’ll have less leftover because only people who come will add to the

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Keep Your AC Blowing with Simple Home Maintenance

Keeping your home cool means relying on the AC a lot. If that sounds like your home, you may want to see how your cool little friend is doing.

We don’t mean calling your best bud and seeing how they are (though they’ll probably appreciate the gesture). We mean your actual AC unit.

A well maintained air conditioner will provide cooler air and use less electricity, so your home is always comfortable.

How can you check on your AC’s condition? There are a number of ways.

Replacing filters every one to three months as needed can save you up to 15% on energy use for your AC. A clogged filter means reduced airflow, which makes the AC work harder. Clean the evaporator coil just like you would with a refrigerator. These coils release heat through condensate, and if they are caked with dirt and grime, the coil more »

How the South Beat the Heat

Long before air conditioning was mainstream, people had to learn and adapt to the temperatures and keep cool in other ways.

Through several different innovations, people in the southern United States constructed their homes to take advantage of as many cooling effects as possible.

Fan Rotation Direction

Sitting under a fan can help keep you cool using the wind chill effect, but when the air is already hot, it seems to have little effect.

Instead of blowing air downward, Southern residents switched the direction on installed fans and had them draw the hot air upward toward vaulted ceilings and windows, releasing it from the home.

Windows and Shades

Speaking of windows, Texas residents would often open their windows at night to take advantage of the cooler night air.

During the day, they would shut them along with any blinds or curtains to repel sunlight and keep their

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7 Steps to Energy Efficient Clothes Washing

Are you getting the most out of your washing machine? Clothes washing seems like a very simple task, but there is a level of complexity added to it in the form of detergent and temperature. Liquid or packs? Too much or too little? Hot or cold cycle? These factors affect how effective your wash cycle is for the clothes in the washer, and it could be costing you money in more ways than one.

1. Sorting
Clothes should be sorted into different groups before being washed. Most people separate darks, colors, and whites, but that’s only half of the battle. Every piece of clothing should have a tag that tells you what temperature the article should be washed at. Matching clothing based on color and temperature will help them last longer and look better.

2. Detergent
With the detergent industry pulling in $7 billion each

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Spring Cleaning and Home Safety

Spring cleaning can be more than just getting rid of items you no longer want or need. It can also be a major safety improvement to your home. There are a lot of fire hazards that can occur from improper storage of flammable items, exposure to the intense heat of the sun, and even just a pile of oily rags. Take a few steps to safeguard your home against these dangers and clean out unwanted junk all at the same time.

Starting inside the house, if you have a bunch of clothes boxed up to donate or just being put in long term storage, make sure they are kept away from heat sources like furnaces, water heaters, and dryers. One of the greatest fire hazards in our homes is the dryer. You should clean out the lint trap before every load of laundry and make certain there

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Cutting the Costs of Wasted Money

Without even realizing it, we are constantly spending money on some things that we don’t even need to. It can be anything from buying unneeded groceries to ATM fees, to energy inefficiency. Take charge of your life and hold onto your hard earned dollars with these simple tips!

Energy Matters

This one is an easy to miss expense because most of us only look at our energy bill once a month to pay it. What we may not realize is that we can cut back on those bills by exercising a few changes.

- Lower your water heater setting from 140° to 120°F

- Unplug unused electronics and appliances (but not your refrigerator!) – save time by plugging in a group of devices to a power strip and shutting off the powerstrip

- Make sure doors, windows, and chimneys are closed when running heat or AC

-

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Using Light Bulbs to Battle Swarms of Insects

“Buzz off!”

That may be your most common reaction to bugs crowding your outdoor patio in the early to mid- evening. We try everything from chemical smelling candles and torches to high-energy bug zappers, but still they manage to ruin our evenings. Well, good news, fellow evening lovers – the type of light bulbs you use outdoors can affect how many or few bugs you attract.

Over the summer of 2015, two behavioral ecologists with PhDs from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Mike and Teresa Justice, performed an experiment to see what kind of light bulbs would attract insects. The ecologists set up a bug trap with a single light bulb in it and left the light on overnight before checking how many and what kinds of bugs were caught in the trap. The following night, they would use a different bulb and repeat the process.

Bad Bulbs

The

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Slow Cooker Meals for February, Pt. 1

We’ve got some delicious slow cooker meals, snacks, and desserts for you that will keep you satisfied all February long, and best of all, they’ll save you money by using a lot less electricity than the oven!

Crepe Day (Feb. 2) – Apple-Cranberry Crepes

One might not think of crepes as being a slow cooker recipe, but they’ve never tried this delicious recipe. Using a large baking apple like a Gala or Jonathan as well as a tart apple like a Granny Smith, you can combine them with a quarter cup of dried, sweetened cranberries and some spices to create a wonderfully sweet and tart crepe perfect for a fancy breakfast or delightful dessert. This recipe takes about 2.5 hours and serves 4.

Carrot Cake Day (Feb. 3) – Carrot Cake

This delicious dessert can be made pretty easily in a slow cooker. The recipe starts off

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