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● 21 Things You Should Never Buy New
● 20 Things You Should Never Buy Used
● 20 Tips for Cleaning on the Cheap
● 30 Household Products Vinegar Can Replace
● 16 Ways to Make Your Clothes Last Longer (without spending big)
● 7 Money Mistakes We Make Every Day
● Top 7 Baby Items You Don't Need To Buy

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21 Things You Should Never Buy New
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/21-Things-You-Should-Never-usnews-2356162080.html?x=0

Wise Bread, On Monday June 28, 2010, 10:24 am EDT

If you're looking to get the most value for your dollar, it would do your wallet good to check out secondhand options. Many used goods still have plenty of life left in them even years after the original purchase, and they're usually resold at a fraction of the retail price, to boot. Here's a list of 21 things that make for a better deal when you buy them used.

1. DVDs and CDs:
Used DVDs and CDs will play like new if they were well taken care of. Even if you wind up with a scratched disc and you don't want to bother with a return, there are ways to remove the scratches and make the DVD or CD playable again.

Quickly Remove Scratches from CDs and DVDs
http://aws1.wisebread.com/quickly-removing-scratches-from-cds-and-dvds_.html

2. Books:
You can buy used books at significant discounts from online sellers and brick-and-mortar used book stores. The condition of the books may vary, but they usually range from good to like-new. And of course, check out your local library for free reading material.

3. Video Games:
Kids get tired of video games rather quickly. You can easily find used video games from online sellers at sites like Amazon and eBay a few months after the release date. Most video game store outlets will feature a used game shelf, as well. And if you're not the patient type, you can rent or borrow from a friend first to see if it's worth the purchase.

4. Special Occasion and Holiday Clothing:
Sometimes you'll need to buy formal clothing for special occasions, such as weddings or prom. Most people will take good care of formal clothing but will only wear it once or twice. Their closet castouts are your savings: Thrift stores, yard sales, online sellers and even some dress shops offer fantastic buys on used formalwear.

5. Jewelry:
Depreciation hits hard when you try to sell used jewelry, but as a buyer you can take advantage of the markdown to save a bundle. This is especially true for diamonds, which has ridiculously low resale value. Check out estate sales and reputable pawn shops to find great deals on unique pieces. Even if you decide to resell the jewelry later, the depreciation won't hurt as much.

6. Ikea Furniture:
Why bother assembling your own when you can pick it up for free (or nearly free) on Craigslist and Freecycle? Summer is the best time to hunt for Ikea furniture--that's when college students are changing apartments and tossing out their goodies.

7. Games and Toys:
How long do games and toys remain your child's favorite before they're left forgotten under the bed or in the closet? You can find used children's toys in great condition at moving sales or on Craigslist, or you can ask your neighbors, friends, and family to trade used toys. Just make sure to give them a good wash before letting junior play.

8. Maternity and Baby Clothes:
Compared to everyday outfits that you can wear any time, maternity clothes don't get much wear outside the few months of pregnancy when they fit. The same goes for baby clothes that are quickly outgrown. You'll save a small fortune by purchasing gently used maternity clothes and baby clothes at yard sales and thrift stores. Like children's games and toys, friends and family may have baby or maternity clothing that they'll be happy to let you take off their hands.

9. Musical Instruments:
Purchasing new musical instruments for a beginner musician is rarely a good idea. (Are you ready to pay $60 an hour for piano lessons?) For your little dear who wants to learn to play an instrument, you should see how long his or her interest lasts by acquiring a rented or used instrument to practice with first. Unless you're a professional musician or your junior prodigy is seriously committed to music, a brand new instrument may not be the best investment.

10. Pets:
If you buy a puppy (or kitty) from a professional breeder or a pet store outlet, it can set you back anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. On top of this, you'll need to anticipate additional fees and vet bills, too. Instead, adopt a pre-owned pet from your local animal shelter and get a new family member, fees, and vaccines at a substantially lower cost.

11. Home Accent:
Pieces Home decorating pieces and artwork are rarely handled on a day-to-day basis, so they're generally still in good condition even after being resold multiple times. If you like the worn-out look of some decor pieces, you can be sure you didn't pay extra for something that comes naturally with time. And don't forget, for most of us, discovering a true gem at a garage sale is 90% of the fun!

12. Craft Supplies:
If you're into crafting, you probably have a variety of different supplies left over from prior projects. If you require some additional supplies for your upcoming project, then you can join a craft swap where you'll find other crafty people to trade supplies with. If you have leftovers, be sure to donate them to your local schools.

13. Houses:
You're typically able to get better and more features for your dollar when you purchase an older home rather than building new. Older houses were often constructed on bigger corner lots, and you also get architectural variety in your neighborhood if the houses were built or remodeled in different eras.

14. Office Furniture:
Good office furniture is built to withstand heavy use and handling. Really solid pieces will last a lifetime, long after they're resold the first or second time. A great used desk or file cabinet will work as well as (or better than) a new one, but for a fraction of the cost. With the recession shutting down so many businesses, you can easily find lots of great office furniture deals.

15. Cars:
You've probably heard this before: Cars depreciate the second you drive them off of the dealership's lot. In buying a used car, you save money on both the initial cost and the insurance. It also helps to know a trusty mechanic who can check it over first. This way, you'll be aware of any potential problems before you make the purchase.

16. Hand Tools:
Simple tools with few moving parts, like hammers, hoes and wrenches, will keep for decades so long as they are well-made to begin with and are well-maintained. These are fairly easy to find at neighborhood yard or garage sales. If you don't need to use hand tools very often, an even better deal is to rent a set of tools or borrow them from a friend.

17. Sports Equipment:
Most people buy sports equipment planning to use it until it drops, but this rarely happens. So when sports equipment ends up on the resale market, they tend to still be in excellent condition. Look into buying used sporting gear through Craigslist and at yard sales or sports equipment stores.

18. Consumer Electronics:
I know most folks like shiny new toys, but refurbished electronic goods are a much sweeter deal. Consumer electronics are returned to the manufacturer for different reasons, but generally, they'll be inspected for damaged parts, fixed, tested, then resold at a lower price. Just make sure you get a good warranty along with your purchase.

19. Gardening Supplies:
This is an easy way for you to save money, and all you need to do is be observant. Take a look outdoors and you'll likely find such gardening supplies as mulch, wood, and even stones for free or vastly reduced prices. Used garden equipment and tools are also common goods at yard sales.

20. Timeshares:
Buying timeshares isn't for everyone, but if you decide that it suits your lifestyle, purchasing the property as a resale would be a better deal than buying it brand new: on average, you'll save 67 percent on the price for a comparable new timeshare. If you're new to timeshare ownership, give it a test run first by renting short term.

21. Recreational Items:
It's fairly easy to find high ticket recreational items like campers, boats, and jet skis being resold. Oftentimes, they're barely used at all. As long as they're in safe, working condition, they'll make for a better value when purchased used than new.

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20 Things You Should Never Buy Used
http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2010/06/07/20-things-you-should-never-buy-used


By Wise Bread
Posted: June 7, 2010

We all love scoring great deals on Craigslist and Ebay, but many second-hand purchases are actually terrible deals. Stay clear of these 20 used items that will end up costing you money -- or even endanger your health.

1. Cribs and children’s furniture:
If there’s any chance that you’ll put your children at risk by buying used, just buy new. Used children’s furniture, especially cribs, can be a safety hazard because you can’t be certain of a potential recall or if the crib was installed correctly. (See also 7 Baby Items You Don't Need to Buy.)

2. Car seats:
Even if a used car seat looks OK, damaged car seats aren’t uncommon. Considering that safety technology improves every year -- and the fact that car seats can go for as little as $50 -- buying new is usually the better option.

3. Bicycle helmets:
Usually, a crash would only crush the foam inside the helmet casing, so the damage to the helmet may not be visible. However, since helmets are meant to protect against one accident only, buying new would be a safer bet.

4. Tires:
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if used tires were once part of a totaled wreck. If they have been in an accident, they’re bound to be unstable and unreliable. Putting your safety at risk for the sake of saving a few bucks just doesn’t add up.

5. Laptops:
Because of their portability, laptops are prone to all sorts of abuse and problems. When you buy a used laptop, unless it’s refurbished, you have no idea what it’s been through or when important parts will die on you. You also don’t get the warranties and tech support that come with buying new.

6. Software:
Most software comes with a serial number that you register with the company when you activate the software on your computer. If the serial number on your use software has already been registered, you can’t use it again.

7. Plasma and HDTVs:
The cost for fixing or replacing the parts on plasma or HDTVs is high. Sometimes, it costs as much as buying a new TV. Considering the repair costs, you’d want to get an extended warranty, but that isn’t an option if you buy your TV used.

8. DVD players:
While it’s smart to buy used DVDs, this doesn’t apply to DVD players. DVD players have lasers that will eventually wear out. The cost to repair or replace may cost more than the player is worth.

9. Digital and video cameras:
Like laptops, used digital and video cameras are likely to have been dropped and banged around. It may not be obvious, but once the damage kicks in, it’ll be expensive to repair. If you know what to look for in a digital camera, you can get a great new camera without breaking the bank.

10. Speakers and microphones:
Speakers and microphones are sensitive audio equipment that don’t stand up well to blasting and mishandling. Like laptops and cameras, the damage may not be obvious, but their performance would be severely compromised.

11. Camera lenses:
An SLR camera lens is the most expensive part of a camera. It also directly affects the quality of your images. Any damage to the lens, however slight, will show up in your photos.

12. Photo light bulbs:
Not the ordinary light bulbs you use at home. We’re talking about the light bulbs used with photography equipment. They’re relatively expensive, but their life span is short enough that you likely won’t get much use out of them if you buy second-hand.

13. Mattresses and bedding:
Just think: You may be sleeping with other people’s mold, mites, bacteria, and bodily fluids. Besides, even the really good mattresses are only supposed to last eight to 10 years, and it’s hard know for sure how old a used mattress may be.

14. Swimsuits and undergarments:
This is probably a no-brainer, but it needs to be said: Do not, do not, do not buy used swimsuits or undergarments. They’re worn too close to the body -- someone else’s body -- to consider buying used.

15. Wet suits:
Wet suits lose the ability to keep you warm over time. If you’re a scuba diver, or the last owner was one, the constant change in water pressure will eventually wear out the wet suit and make it more likely to tear.

16. Shoes:
If you get used footwear, it’s likely they’re already molded to the last owner’s feet. Poor-fitting shoes are not only uncomfortable but can cause all sorts of health problems, as well.

17. Hats:
Hats are likely not cleaned before they’re resold or donated. If you buy a used hat, you don’t know if you’re also getting skin infections, old sweat stains, hair products, and other cringe-worthy remnants. Now that’s a deal you don’t want.

18. Makeup:
A good thing to remember about used makeup is that it’s a breeding ground for bacteria and a number of contagious diseases. The great deal you found may come with pink eye and cold sores. Instead of buying used, consider making your own beauty products (it's easier than you think) or skip makeup altogether.

19. Pet supplies:
Old stains and odors continue to ferment even if used pet supplies are sitting around in storage. If cleanliness is ever an issue, just say no.

20. Vacuum cleaners:
Vacuums are among the heavy-duty household appliances that tend to get a lot of use and abuse. They can also cost more to fix than if you bought them new right from the start.

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20 Tips for Cleaning on the Cheap
http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2010/06/14/20-tips-for-cleaning-on-the-cheap

By Wise Bread
Posted: June 14, 2010

Sure, it’s easy to drop-off your wine-stained dress at the dry cleaners, or call in a professional service to take care of those ink spills on the carpet, but what if you could fix those problem areas yourself? For barely any money? Here are 20 ways to clean on the cheap:

Clothing

1. Remove red wine stains. Saturate the stain with table salt ASAP and let it sit for a couple of hours, then wash in cold water. Another trick is to pour some white wine on the stain and wash accordingly.

2. Remove coffee stains. Scrub the stain with baking soda paste. To make baking soda paste, just mix baking soda and water.

3. Remove grease/oil stains. Blot the stain with dishwashing detergent. If the stain has soaked in, mix one part vinegar with two parts water to make an all-natural cleaner. Apply to the stain and wash. By the way, did you know vinegar can replace 30 household products?

4. Remove ink stains. Spray the stain with hairspray or rubbing alcohol and blot the area. Repeat until most of the stain is gone, then wash.

5. Remove lipstick stains. Treat lipstick stains the same way as ink stains (spray-blot-repeat), but follow up by scrubbing with dishwashing soap. FYI, your top of the line lipstick will be more difficult to remove because of the greater depth of pigments.

6. Remove blood stains. First, make sure your stained item doesn’t bleach out. Then, pour some regular, drugstore hydrogen peroxide and let it soak before washing it in cold water.

7. Remove body odor. Spray the problem area (usually the armpits) with a 50/50 dilution of alcohol and water, and then hang it up to line dry. You want to kill the bacteria without damaging the garment.

8. Remove moth ball odor. Try dry-hanging your clothes out in the sun first. If the moth ball smell doesn’t dissipate, seal your clothes in a plastic bag with some dryer sheets or dry lavender, a natural moth repellant. So the next time you put your clothes into storage, use dry lavender instead of moth balls. These methods are safe to use on 100 percent cotton or cotton/synthetic blends, but not all of them are applicable to all fabrics. For more comprehensive tips, check out Cornell's stain removal guide and 16 ways to make your clothes last longer.

Carpets and Floors

9. Clean mud off carpet. Let the mud dry completely, then remove as much as possible with a knife. Mix one quart of water with one-quarter teaspoon of hand or dish soap. (Make sure the soap doesn’t contain bleach of lanolin.) Pour the solution into a spray bottle: spray, rub, blot.

10. Remove rust stains off carpet. Mix vinegar and water in a spray bottle, spray the solution onto the stain, and let it sit for a few minutes. Clean the area with a brush or sponge using warm, soapy water. For really tough stains, spray on a good amount of lemon juice (but don’t wet the padding underneath), let it sit for five to six minutes, and blot with a paper towel.

11. Remove grease/oil stains off carpet. Remove as much as possible with a knife and blotting. Pour rubbing alcohol onto a clean white cloth (or white paper towels). Blot until the stain is removed. If the stain is small, be sure to blot in one direction only so the stain doesn’t spread.

12. Clean wood laminate floors. Sweep up the loose stuff first. Then, add two to four tablespoons of vinegar to a small bucket of warm water. Wet two terry cloths in the solution, wring them out, and lay them flat on the floor. Step on the cloths and walk across the floor in sweeping motions and scrubbing with your toes where necessary. Let it air dry or walk on microfiber towels.

More Cleaning Tips

13. Clean the stovetop. Boil water in a kettle. Dribble a very shallow layer of water over the entire stovetop and it sit for about five minutes. Scrub, wipe with soap, and rinse. This method may not work for all stoves. If you own a ceramic or induction stove, be sure to check the instruction manual and other documents.

14. Clean grill racks. Heat up the grill until it’s super hot to make it easier to scrap off the clumps. Cut an onion in half and attach the round end of a half-onion to a fork. Point the flat side of the onion facedown and rub the grate.

15. Clean windows. Make a cleaner by mixing three teaspoons of vinegar to one quart of warm water. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and spray onto the glass, wiping it dry with crumpled newspapers. To prevent streaking, don’t clean while the sun is on the window.

16. Remove crayon marks off painted walls. Apply baking soda paste onto the crayon mark, rub gently with a clean cloth, and wipe clean. If that doesn’t work, you can also rinse the area with a sponge soaked in liquid dish soap and water, then scrub in a circular motion. Be sure to first test the cleaner on an inconspicuous spot (like near a corner or behind a door).

17. Remove mildew smell from towels. Put the towels into a washing machine and add one or two cups of white vinegar. (Don’t add any other products at this time.) Run the washer using the hottest water setting available. When it’s done, leave the towels inside and wash them again at the hottest water setting -- this time with laundry soap (but no fabric softener or other products). Dry the towels in a dryer using the high heat setting. If the towels aren’t completely dry, run the dryer again, or hang them up outside in the sunlight.

18. Clean vinyl or plastic shower curtains. Take off the rings and put the curtains in a washing machine. Add one cup of bleach, one cup of detergent, and a few dirty towels to help scrub off the soap scum. Run the washer on the gentle cycle with either warm or hot water. Right after the spin cycle, take the curtains of the washer, shake it out gently, and let it drip dry. Don’t worry about the wrinkles: Hot steam from a couple of showers (plus gravity) will smooth out your curtains in a day.

19. Clean soap scum. For the soap scum buildup in your bath and shower area, spray it with vinegar and wipe off with a damp sponge. You can also sprinkle baking soda, borax, or powder laundry detergent onto a damp sponge and scrub.

20. Clean cloudy glassware. To remove hard water deposits, scrub cheap, white toothpaste all over the glass and rinse thoroughly.

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30 Household Products Vinegar Can Replace
http://www.wisebread.com/30-household-products-vinegar-can-replace

by Nora Dunn on 21 July 2009

Who knew that vinegar could do so much? It serves a purpose in just about every room of the house, and there are dozens of household (and personal) products that vinegar can replace, as you will see below. It’s cheaper, better for the environment, and better for your health and home (in eliminating unnecessary chemicals).

★All Purpose Cleaners

Vinegar in general is a natural (and inexpensive) disinfectant. It can be used on almost anything except marble. So stick it in a spray bottle and get to work! Here are a few more “recipes” for various cleaning purposes.

All purpose cleaner:

2 parts vinegar, 1 part water

Extra dirty spots:

Scour dirty areas with baking soda, then spray the all purpose cleaner (recipe above) over the area and wipe clean.

Floor cleaner:

Brew a cup of peppermint tea (use 1 tea bag: one cup for you, one for the floor). Squeeze half a lemon in to the floor mix, and add 1 cup of vinegar. Mop away with your solution; the vinegar disinfects, the tea has antibacterial properties and removes marks, and the lemon freshens & disinfects.

Pee stains on carpet (presumably from pets):

Blot up the initial stain, flush it with water, then apply equal parts vinegar and cool water. Blot it all up, rinse, and let dry. This will eliminate odors and stains.

Hard water stains and mineral deposits:

Allow a cloth soaked in vinegar to sit on a hard water stain (for example behind your faucet) or mineral deposit for a few hours. Wipe clean.

Appliance cleaning:

Clean your coffee maker or laundry machine or dishwasher by running vinegar through it, followed by water. This reduces soap buildup and keeps everything in working order.

★In The Kitchen

Remove labels from glass jars:

Saturate the labeled area in vinegar and scrape the stickiness right off.

Dirty pot bottoms and cooking utensils:

Fill the pot with enough water to cover the stain, add 1 cup of vinegar, and boil rapidly for 5 minutes. Let cool, then scrub the stains off. While you’re at it, put your stainless steel cooking utensils in the pot to get them sparkly clean too.

Fruit stains on hands:

Had a little too much fun making that cherry pie or berry salad? Just rub your hands with vinegar to remove the stains.

Coffee stains on china:

Use a mixture of salt and vinegar to clean coffee stains from china.

Wooden cutting boards:

Wooden cutting boards are great, except they can be a hothouse for bacteria (especially if grooves have been cut into the board with use). Disinfect it regularly with vinegar to keep it (and your food) clean.

Veggie maintenance:

Clean and crisp up your veggies by soaking them in a mixture of water and a tablespoon or so of vinegar. Any bugs lingering on your produce will float away, and your soggy celery will come to life again (depending on how far gone it was to begin with).

Smelly onion hands:

Eliminate onion odor off your hands by rinsing them in vinegar. This also apparently works with other stinky parts of your body that soap isn’t cutting through, such as underarms.

Clean sticky scissors:

Sometimes those scissors get so gummy you can’t even make them work. Just wipe them down with vinegar, and they’ll be like new again.

★Laundry

Fabric softener

There are a few fabric softener strategies you can play with:

Add equal parts vinegar and baking soda, OR just ½ a cup of vinegar to your wash when you would add fabric softener (final rinse cycle). Line dried towels will come out softer with a vinegar-based softener.

Water:

You can also add 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar to your wash water, which does the following:

* Reduces the amount of soap you need to use
* Reduces lint
* Brightens colors, and stops them from running
* Acts as a rinse aid
* Keeps the washing machine running clean and well

Stain removal:

Use vinegar on stains before washing to remove stubborn ones like perspiration, fruit, mustard, and coffee.

★In The Garden

Kill grass and weeds:

Pour or spray full strength vinegar on grass or weeds poking through your driveway or rearing their heads in other unsavory places.

★In The Car

Frost-free windows:

If you know a chilly night is on the make, you can ensure that your windows will be frost-free when you wake up in the morning. Simply mix 3 parts vinegar to 1 part water, and coat your windows with the mixture the night before.

★In The Bathroom

Kill soap scum:

Wiping a “scummy” area with vinegar and rinsing with water will do as good a job as any at attacking your bathroom shower grime. If the scum is particularly stubborn, scrub with baking soda (a great natural abrasive) after wiping with vinegar. Rinse with water.

Unclog your shower head:

Unscrew it, throw it into a pot of equal parts vinegar and water and boil for a few minutes to loosen deposits that are blocking your shower head.

★Personal Use

Hair rinse:

If vinegar removes soap scum on your tiles, it stands to reason that it will also remove soap scum on your hair. Rinse with a cup filled with ½ a cup of warm water and ½ a cup of vinegar, and your locks will be shiny and free of buildup.

Dandruff treatment:

Using the same technique as the hair rinse above but with a higher concentration of vinegar, also acts as an effective dandruff treatment.

Acne treatment:

Apply equal parts vinegar and water to problem areas.

Facial toner:

Using vinegar as toner is a great (and inexpensive) alternative to using alpha hydroxyl based products.

Athletes foot (and other fungus):

Apply full-strength vinegar to the affected area twice daily until symptoms abate.

★Miscellaneous Uses

Eliminate smoke odor:

Simply put a bowl of vinegar in the offending room near the offending source. Smoke odors be gone!

Air freshener:

If you would like to reduce icky smells but would like a nicer room smell than vinegar, add some fragrant spices (like cardamom) to your bowl of vinegar and leave it in a warm corner of the room.

Chrome polish:

Use full strength vinegar with soft cloth to make that chrome shine.

Insect traps:

Vinegar is an active ingredient used to various insect and pest traps.

Not enough reason to stock up on vinegar? Paul described 254 uses for vinegar.

What's your favorite uses for vinegar?

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16 Ways to Make Your Clothes Last Longer (without spending big)
http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-clothes-last-longer-without-spending-big

by Andrea Dickson on 30 September 2008

With everyone trying to stretch their dollars further these days, it makes sense to take care of the things we have, rather than buy replacements. This goes for clothing as much as anything else we own and use on a daily basis.

As a reformed clothes-horse, I struggle to prevent myself from shopping for new duds on a daily basis. These are ways I've found that have helped me hang on to clothes I already have.

1. Know Thyself

The first step in maintaining a wardrobe is to be aware of your cleaning limits and your clothing habits.

If you can't afford to dry clean clothing, don't buy dry-clean-only clothes. If you despise ironing and avoid it with all your might, don't build your wardrobe around French cuff shirts or blouses that need starching. You'll only regret it later when you can't be bothered with the cost or hassle of upkeep, and you'll either have to get rid of the clothes, or wear them wrinkled.

2. Color Wisely

If you have a habit of spilling coffee down your front, there's no shame in wearing lots of chocolate brown, charcoal gray, and navy blue. Dark colors hide a multitude of clumsy moments.

3. Folding vs. Hanging

Make sure that you don't fold clothes that need to be hung and don't hang clothes that need to be folded. Sweater stretch on the hanger and dress shirts don't do well folded, unless you are an expertly masterful folder of some kind.

4. Dress for The Task at Hand

It can be tempting to simply get messy chores done while wearing whatever it is we wore at work, but that's a fast way to ruin work clothes. There's a reason why moms frequently make a distinction between their kids' "play clothes" and "school clothes." If tackling a potentially dirty project, don't do it in a dress shirt and slacks. Change into your grubbies before you get muddy. Also, wear an apron while cooking. I've ruined many a lovely dress over a pot of simmering bolognese.

5. Stop Laundering So Often

It's really easy to want to wash an item of clothing after having worn it just once. But washing is the fastest way to help the fibers break down. The fewer times you have to wash, the longer it will last.

If you are too lazy to rehang worn (but clean) clothing, it's OK to drape it over surfaces like your dresser or a chair, just as long as you don't drop it on the floor. Once clothes are on the floor, they will HAVE to be washed before being worn again, but a draped shirt will live to see another day of wear.

The following items can also help you wear a shirt or a pair of pants more than once before washing:

* Tide To Go Pen: These little pens cost less than $5, last for a long time, and will save your blouse when you manage to drop a dollop of marinara down the front. Coworkers and friends are always wowed by how quickly this trick works to remove stains from fabric. I use a Shout stick stain remover as well, on large stains, but the Tide pen allows you to use the stain treatment without having to wash the clothing item immediately thereafter.

* Lint Roller: Sometimes a pair of black slacks doesn't really need to be washed — it just needs the cat hair removed from around the cuffs. My white dog really loves to jump on my lap whenever I'm wearing dark colors (it's like he knows), and it's not that he's dirty — he just sheds like it's going out of style. I have lint rollers in every room of my house, and they keep my slacks looking professional. I also keep one at the office to pick up stray hair and fluff that inevitable lands on my back and shoulders during long days spent scratching my head.

* Deodorant: Your shirts will smell better and stand up to multiple wearings if you yourself don't stink.

6. Keep All Those Buttons

Every time you buy a new clothing item that comes with spare buttons, immediately put the buttons in a jar or box reserved entirely for buttons and spare thread. It's easy to lose track of these important surplus buttons, and it's one of the fastest ways for a cardigan to become useless.

7. Wash in Cold Water

People who wash their clothing in cold water will notice a drop in their energy bills very quickly. In addition, many fabrics (especially nylon and elastics) hold up better when subjected to less heat. Cold water detergents are designed to remove dirt even without the help of hot water, but even normal detergent will work well. Also, even though I try my hardest to be a stickler for the environment, a good capful of bleach will do amazing things for your whites — it's almost like having new clothing.

[Some parents might note that it is very difficult to remove grass stains from a kid's pants using cold water washes. To this I respond: this is why children should be dressed from head to toe in black. Not only can you imagine that they are little ninjas (or French poets, if they are pouting), but it'll save you the pain of trying to remove all kinds of goobery stains from their clothing. Those of you who would like to note that I am not, in fact, a parent, and don't know what I am talking about, I would just like to say this: you are right. I'm still planning on having black-clad children of my own, no matter what you say about how adorable they look in t-shirts with froggies on them.]

8. Obey the Laws of Color Separation

At the end of a long day, with loads and loads of laundry facing you, it can be tempting to just throw the reds in with the blues, but try to keep like colors washed with like colors. Reds and blues fade easily and everyone knows how one red sock can turn a whole load of whites a light shade of rose. Try your best to keep dissimilar colors apart in the laundry.

9. Zip Up Jeans/Hoodies Before Washing Them

Unzipped zipper edges on pants and hoodies are often very rough, and if left unzipped during the washing and drying cycles, they'll chew up the rest of your clothing in no time! Make sure that all zippers are zipped to the top before tossing them in the wash.

10. Be Considerate of Your Underthings

Don't tumble-dry your over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders. Bras and underwear made of fabrics and fabric blends (especially nylon) besides cotton don't do well in the heat of a dryer. Hang or drape them to air dry instead. And those little mesh bags that your mother used to nag you to use when washing delicate brassieres? They really do help to keep bra straps from wrapping around other clothing while in the wash. Be sure to fasten the bras, too, to prevent hooks from catching on delicate knits or sweaters.

11. Slip into Something New

Consider wearing some of the more traditional underclothes that have fallen out of fashion as of late — slips, body shapers, and undershirts will both help your clothing drape better over your body, and also protect clothing from sweat stains and friction that can cause wear and tear. I recently spent $70 on a body slimmer by Spanx (I used to buy the cheaper ones called Assets), and not only do I look slimmer, but the darn thing actually helps improve my posture. Also, it keeps my wobbly thighs firmly encased in fabric, which means that the insides of my pants don't wear as quickly because my thighs don't rub together as much.

You obviously don't have to spend nearly as much for a cotton undershirt or a silk slip, but these things keep clothing away from your skin, and it doesn't matter if they get stained, since no one else is going to see them. Undershirts, slips, and camisoles can help your clothing last longer.

12. Notice Your Surroundings

Those Aeron chairs, while comfortable, really rub the seat of your pants the wrong way. If you are noticing increased wear on your clothing, look around to see what part of your work or home environment could be contributing to it. The edge of your desk might be wearing down your shirt cuffs. Look for small ways to improve your position so that your clothing isn't taking a beating while you are working.

13. Clean and/or Polish Your Shoes Frequently

Polishing may seem a bit tedious, but frequently wiping down your shoes with a barely-damp cloth with prevent dirt from settling into cracks permanently, and to keep leather from getting too dry (which causes cracking).

14. Don't Wear Dress Shoes While Driving

I've ruined many a pair of dress pumps by doing nothing more than driving — the back of the heel rubs against my car's floor mats, and before long, my black shoes are spotting fuzzy gray patches on the back where the carpet did its work. I'm not high-class enough to wear driving moccasins, so I just wear sandals or Crocs in the car and put my shoes on once I arrive at the office.

15. Patch Early, Patch Often

Blue jeans are usually the first items of clothing to develop little holes in them. You can patch clothing by buying fabric patches and applying with heat-activated adhesive, sew a cute patch over a tiny hole, or just stitch it up with a little needle and thread.

16. Reinforce Hems

Even cheap clothing can last a long time if you reinforce the hems with a simple stitch on a normal sewing machine. Skirts, pants, even underwear will wear longer and better when the hems are less flimsy. You don't have to be a talented seamstress to hem a pair of pants - anyone can do it with a little practice. In addition, once a shirt's wrists are looking ragged or your slacks are starting to wear at the hem, you can always take them in a bit. Hemlines rise and fall every season, but you can probably safely remove a half-inch from your favorite jeans without anyone noticing. This keeps hems nicer and overall appearance neater.

Any reader tips would also be appreciated!

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7 Money Mistakes We Make Every Day
http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2010/06/04/7-money-mistakes-we-make-every-day

For all the financial advice we find in books, magazines, and online, we still make a lot of mistakes when it comes to money. Some of these mistakes might not cost us much, but others can cost us a small fortune. And even the small mistakes, multiplied over a lifetime, can add up to a princely sum.

In the hope that we can make better financial decisions, here is a list of some of the common money mistakes many of us make every day:

1. Buying expensive mutual funds: Do you know how much you pay for the mutual funds in your retirement account? If you don’t know, you’re not alone. Mutual fund companies don’t send out monthly or quarterly bills. Instead, they quietly deduct their fees from the returns on your investments. These fees, quoted as an expense ratio (a 1 percent fee means you are paying 1 percent of your account balance in fees each year), add up to thousands of dollars over a lifetime of investing. To see just how much you are paying, use a free service such as Morningstar.com to track the actual expense of your mutual funds and ETFs. You can track your portfolio for free on Morningstar, including the total cost of your investments.

2. Neglecting credit scores: Credit scores have a major impact on our financial lives. An excellent credit score results in lower interest rates on mortgages, car loans, and credit cards. It also results in lower insurance premiums. But many do not know their credit score or how their financial decisions shape their score. The first step is to regularly review your credit report, which is available for free from annualcreditreport.com. You can get your report from each of the three major credit bureaus for free once a year. Checking each report for errors can not only improve your credit score, but also help guard against identity theft. While your report will not include your credit score, there are several options to obtain your credit score for free or at a low cost.

3. Equating monthly payments with affordability: Far too many of us decide whether we can afford something based on whether we can manage the monthly payment. This is particularly true for homes, cars, and furniture. But just because we can handle a payment does not mean we can truly afford something. Monthly payments also ignore the true cost of ownership. A car, for example, costs a lot more than the monthly payment when you consider insurance, gas, repairs and maintenance. Instead of focusing on the monthly payment, separate needs from wants and evaluate how you might better use the money. If you still have consumer debt, for example, consider paying the debt off before buying something that will commit you to future monthly payments for potentially years to come.

4. Overpaying on a mortgage: Reducing a mortgage by even 1 percent can result in substantial savings. Whether because of falling mortgage rates, which are at historic lows, or an improved credit score, many may be able to save thousands of dollars over the life of their home loan by refinancing. Yet for various reasons, many have not taken advantage of falling rates. Even if you have a low rate now, check current mortgage rates to see if you can do better. In some cases, a savings of just 1% or less can justify the cost of refinancing.

5. Missing good deals online: Thanks to the Internet, you can find deals, coupons and promo codes on just about anything. And many retailers offer additional discounts if you buy online. From cell phones to home improvement, the savings can be substantial, and shopping online is often far more convenient than driving around town and waiting in lines. The problem is that we often make purchases completely unaware that these deals exist. To find these deals, search online for coupons before you make significant purchases and bookmark coupon sites such as Retailmenot.com and Fatwallet.com, which regularly update the latest offers from popular retailers.

6. Overpaying taxes: A big tax refund can be a source of much needed cash each year. But a tax refund is the result of having too much tax withheld from your paycheck, which gives the government an interest free loan with your money. Instead of letting the government hold on to your money for up to a year, adjust your withholdings so you can pocket your money now. The goal should be to match your withholdings as close as possible to your tax liability.

7. Making minimum payments on credit cards: Even low interest credit cards charge a high interest rate. As a result, making the minimum payment on credit card debt will add a lot of interest to your total payments over the life of that debt. Making just the minimum payment also extends the time it takes to pay of the debt by many years. Rather than making just the minimum payment, commit to paying more than the minimum, even if by just a few dollars. Allocate some or all of your next raise to your credit card payments, and reexamine your budget in an effort to increase the payment as much as possible.

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Top 7 Baby Items You Don't Need To Buy
http://parentingsquad.com/top-7-baby-items-you-dont-need-to-buy
Posted November 11, 2009 - 23:19 by Sierra Black

The baby industry brings in billions of dollars every year. They'd like you to think that having a child means spending thousands of your own dollars on expensive furniture, clothing and gear that will make your precious charge safe, beautiful, and smart. It's just not true. You don't need that stuff.

When I brought my first child home from the hospital, I snuggled right down in my own bed with her and stayed there. We co-slept, and I wore her in a sling on my chest during the day. It was summertime, so she'd wear a onesy and a little hat and a diaper.

That was about all the gear she needed: a sling, a onesy, a diaper and a little hat. Truth be told, even the little hat was optional.

But her bedroom, a place she rarely saw the inside of during her first year of life, was overflowing with Baby Stuff. A mix of shower gifts, hand-me-downs and a few precious purchases, that stuff represented my dreams and anxieties as an expectant mother.

I pored over baby catalogs while I was pregnant, imagining what my life with my little one would be like. I spent hours carefully compiling a list for our shower registry, and hours after the shower making checklists of what I still needed for the kid. There were lists of what we had, lists of what we had extra of. In that limbo between leaving work on medical leave and actually giving birth, I made a lot of lists.

It turns out all that Baby Stuff was largely clutter. Here's a new list for all you expectant parents, after five years of motherhood, of baby things you don't need.

1、Wipes Warmers

These little plastic boxes soak up shelf space and electric power and put out lukewarm baby wipes. Guess what? If your little prince happens to be one of the few babies who cares about the temperature of his butt wipe, you can get the same effect with a warm washcloth.

2、Co-sleepers

Some families prefer a crib, while others prefer to co-sleep. Baby furniture manufacturers have tried to create a middle ground with expensive bedside bassinets that attach to the parents' mattress. I have yet to meet a family who sang the praises of these contraptions. Most simply bring the baby into their own bed, following safe co-sleeping guidelines.

3、Themed Sets

Whether you use a crib or not, someone will probably want you to choose a theme for your nursery. Your baby does not care whether you go with Winnie The Pooh crib bumpers or Safari ones. Put the $300 you don't spend on jungle animal crib sheets and matching curtains into her college fund and she'll thank you for it.

4、Baby Bath

We got three of these as shower gifts. Some of these colorful little plastic tubs hold water on their own; others are just inserts that sit inside your bathtub and support baby's head while you wash her. Hot tip: every house I have ever seen has been equipped with a kitchen sink. It'll work just as well, and you don't have to worry about where to store it during the many hours you're not washing your baby.

5、Designer Baby Clothes

I have a friend who works at a clothing manufacturer, and she sends me samples from their new clothing lines once in awhile. She gets these for practically nothing, and they're often seconds quality with small tears or stains. What amazes me is the price tags I see on some of them: $90 for a baby's jacket, $60 for a six-month-old's dress. Your child will wear these items for less than a season. Because babies go through so much clothing, and don't do much in it other than sleep, you can probably Freecycle your way to an entire infant wardrobe. Save your pennies for when the kid is old enough to choose his own clothes.

6、Baby Swings

Some babies love swings; many hate them. Either way, they can only be used for a few months. They take up a lot of real estate in your house, and don't do anything you can't do with a sling: rock the baby. If your baby turns out to be one of those fussy ones that needs 24/7 motion, you may eventually want to get a second-hand swing or bouncy seat, but this should be on no one's essential pre-baby shopping list.

7、Baby Toiletries

Shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer. We use these things to try to recapture the softness and sweetness of babyhood in our own skin. Babies just have it naturally. All you need to wash a baby is warm water and, at the very most, a little mild castile soap.

The only things you really need for a baby are a place for her to sleep, enough clothes to keep her warm, something to catch the poop, and an ample supply of milk. You probably also want to be able to move the baby from place to place in a carseat or stroller.

Everything else is extra. You won't know which of those extras you want till you have the baby and encounter your own special parenting challenges.

When people ask you what you want for shower gifts, don't be shy. Ask for cold, hard cash. It takes up little space, needs no maintenance, and is easy to trade in for baby shampoo, swings, cute clothes or anything else on your list. It's the one thing you will certainly want more of in the months after your child is born.

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