saving money on heating costs

Save Money on Heating Costs This Winter

Heating your home during the winter months can take a real toll on your wallet. However, if you follow a few simple tips, you can drastically cut your heating costs, no matter how cold it is outside!

Tip #1: Get a Tune-Up

First things first, you’ll want to get a professional tune-up performed on your furnace. Ideally, you should do this just before winter sets in- before the companies get busy and up their prices! Tune-ups typically include an inspection and general maintenance and are well worth any money you pay upfront since they can enable your furnace to run more efficiently and use less energy, cutting your heating costs dramatically.

Tip #2: Self-Insulate Windows and Glass Doors

Another thing you can do to save money on heating is something that might sound a little crazy but that definitely works! You can “self-insulate” your windows and glass doors with nothing but a sheet of clear plastic film, available at any home goods store. Amazingly, using this film will work to keep heated air inside and to keep cold air outside where it belongs. That extra layer of film acts as a sort of shield or barrier and can keep your home a lot more comfortable.

Tip #3: Only Heat It if You Use It

You can also save money on your heating costs by only heating the rooms that you actually use. If you have rooms, like guest rooms or spare rooms, that no one really goes in, close up the vents in those rooms and only have the heat go to the rooms you’re using. Your home will heat up more quickly and no air (or money!) will be wasted in the process.

Tip #4: Soak Up the Sun

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean that the sun isn’t doing its job. It’s still the most efficient heater there is, so don’t be afraid to open your blinds and curtains during the warmest part of the day. This will allow sunlight to stream in and warm your home. Just be sure to close the blinds and curtains at night, and you’ll find that your home is naturally a lot warmer and more comfortable without any added cost to you.

Tip #5: Lower Your Heat in the Evening

Another good thing to do is to bump your heat down by about 10 to 15 degrees during the evening hours. You can do it right before you go to sleep and turn it up again when you wake up, or, even better yet, if you work during the day, you can wait to turn it back up until you get home for good. Throw some extra blankets on your bed and dress warmly, and you probably won’t even notice the difference in temperature- though you’ll definitely notice the money you’ll save!

As you can see, it’s not impossible to save money in the winter. You just have to commit yourself to following these tips, and you’ll be rewarded big time!

reckless money habits

Top 5 Reckless Money Habits You Should Quit Immediately

Whether your intentions are good or not, you can still end up in trouble when spending your money. This is especially true if you have found yourself committing these bad money habits over and over again. Have you struggled with your finances from time to time? You are not alone, but you have to ensure that you are not making matters worse by continuing the same habit. You may be able to identify some of the reckless money habits below that you should probably quit, if you are guilty of any.


  1. Impulse Shopping

Impulse shopping bothers the best of us. It is like an addiction, but has everything to do with one’s emotions. You go to the mall and see that your favorite store has a sale. Instead of walking by, you feel an adrenalin rush to enter the store to see what the sale is all about. Before you know it, you are walking out of the store with multiple items that you had not planned on buying. Now, you have found yourself trying to figure out how you got into this predicament of having a credit balance that you didn’t have a few moments ago. You have to restrict impulse spending by forcing yourself to wait it out before purchasing anything and buy something only when you really need it.


  1. Failure to Budget

If you fail to budget, you will never be financially safe nor will you get ahead. You will always feel ‘behind the eight ball.’ When you budget, it helps you to see where your money is going and how much money you are making at any given time. You don’t have to consider budgeting to be a chore. It will help you to save money and keep in control of your finances. These days, there are software programs that will aid you in sticking to a budget.


  1. Choosing Convenience over Logic

Of course, you can buy something out of convenience, but when you do it consistently because you don’t have time to look for a bargain or you just cannot be bothered, then you run into trouble. If you make convenient purchases on a regular basis, you run the risk of going bankrupt. It will cost you dearly to be too lazy to bargain shop. Stay away from the convenience of buying fast food when you can buy food items in bulk and enjoy a meal at home throughout the week. Stay away from the coffee shop on your way to work and stop purchasing that costly latte every morning when you can get up early and brew your own coffee. All it takes is just a little more effort on our part. You will end up saving big in the long run.


  1. Depending on Credit Cards

Another area of convenience is pulling out your credit card to make purchases that you probably don’t always need. If you are unable to pay the entire balance on a credit card purchase when the bill comes around, you don’t need to be using your credit card to make purchases. You have to factor in the interest rate into your purchase and if you don’t pay off the full balance, you will end up paying more over time for one purchased item.


  1. Eating Out

Why eat out so regularly when you can cook at home. Dining out is fine when you are celebrating an occasion, but when you do this on a regular basis, it can put a dent in your pocket.


Are any of these habits something that you do on a consistent basis? Which ones can you limit or cut out to save money in your pocket? It is time to do a self evaluation.


Rebuild Your Credit with a Secured Credit Card

Rebuild Your Credit with a Secured Credit Card

Secured credit cards do have some drawbacks, but have become one of the ideal options for those people ineligible for credit elsewhere. If you are in the process of improving your damaged credit, but you are having issues, it is time to get help. You have to repair your past errors to show that you can be creditworthy again.


Restoring Your Credit

However, it is obvious that you are in a difficult position right now. After all, is it really possible to rebuild your credit when no one will give you a chance? No matter how many horror stories you have heard about a secured credit card, it could be the one thing to restore your credit. Of course, secured credit cards do have higher interest rates, added fees and reduced credit limits. However, when you have fewer options, there is no other recourse to take.


Secured Credit Cards

Because of its unique terms and conditions, these secured credit cards might not appear as if they are attractive. However, this is an excellent financial tool to boost your credit score when you cannot qualify for any other credit card. With no credit history or if you have a credit score that is below 600, your only option could be a secured credit card. But how does this work?


Depositing Cash

A secured card allows you to put money on the card and use as collateral. Your line of credit would be based entirely on your ability to pay, your income and the cash deposit. Usually, the deposit ranges from $300 to $500. Let say you applied for one of these cards and you deposited $500 on it. According to your ability to pay for purchases made and based on income, your line of credit would be the same $500, which is the exact amount deposited. The cash deposit acts as collateral to secure your credit line.


Why People Get This Card

Most people get a secured credit card because of the easy requirement of depositing money that becomes the credit limit. While this low credit limit might seem as if it has no potential advantage, you should remember that with purchases and timely repayment , this could boost your credit score and rebuild credit.


Here are some of the benefits that secured credit cards carry for those with challenging credit:

  •       Boost credit score so you can have better credit choices
  •       Assist with adopting healthy spending habits
  •       Help you become accustomed to the purchasing cycle of a credit card
  •       Making room later for unsecured credit cards


It is important to manage your secured card responsibly so you can advance to having an unsecured credit card.


Comparison Shopping

When you are looking for a secured credit card, you should avoid certain landmines. The fees may be unattractive and interest rate higher along with ridiculous activation fees. Therefore, you should comparison shop prior to making a decision.



Lastly, you should always ensure that the secured credit card company is reporting your payments to the three credit bureaus. If this is not happening, what’s the use in having a secured card when you are trying to rebuild your credit? So, do your homework and be wise.


Free Apps that Help with Expenses

When you’re out and about living your life, traveling or working keeping an eye on your expenses can be challenging. But that doesn’t need to be the case. With some good free applications that can change and you can stay up to date with your expenses without the hassle.

There are a different variety of expense apps that are free and will give you different results and help you along the way. All apps will allow users to enter their own expenses and the different apps will allow additional features. Some come with receipt scanners and the ability to sync up your accounts with the spending application. There will also be some options to export expense reports either weekly or monthly in formats like Excel or PDF. Simpler apps will be free, but they pack a punch for taking care of expenses.


Mint is free software that gives multiple tools for managing savings and how much you earn. There is the ability to sync up with bank accounts, credit cards and even your 401(k) or IRA accounts. It is available on the iOS, Android and Windows.  It’s organized to show how you use your accounts and gives graphs and pictures to your expenses. It will also improve a free credit score and alerts for anything over your budget that you can set for yourself.

Pocket Expense

Pocket Expense is another great tool that tracks your spending and gives a great visual representation of expenses; they also look at your expenses before creating a budget. This can also be a great way to develop a budget by doing it the other way around then the way Mint does it.

If you’re not comfortable syncing with your ban accounts then this a great app as you can manually submit all transactions. First enter how much money is in both your checking and savings account before beginning.  This app color-codes expenses in red and other numbers in green that you have or have in credit.

Benefit of these Apps

These apps are going to take some mental energy from you and a small amount of time out of your day to stay on track, but the benefits are enormous. You will be completely surprised at how much you spend on little innocuous items. Once you use these apps for more than a few months you can take a good hard look at where to cut back spending.

If a lot of expenses are going into non necessities or frivolous spending it’s a lot easier than looking over past bank statements in list form or just using guesswork. This puts it down to an individual science for individuals who decide to track their expenses.  The short amount of time used to keep an eye on your expenses will save a substantial amount of money in the long run.


How to Control Spending Urges

If investing and saving are the keys to growing wealth, then needless, unbridled spending is the key to forever remaining broke.

Putting money away from our immediate use for future rewards can be tough. There’s no shortage of things we can splurge our money on in the present. Sometimes wants can be extremely tempting, and sometimes real needs do arise. But at the end of the day it’s all about discipline. If we can learn to make do with what we have on hand without digging into what we should be allocating to savings, we’ll be grateful for it in a few decades.

But how do we develop that level of discipline? What does it take to quiet the voice in your head saying “spend, spend, spend!”?

If you’re not used to managing your money closely or living on a budget, doing so won’t be easy at the start. But with the right brain hacks, you can overcome the impulse to buy and put money where you’ll really need it later on.

Limit your Exposure to Ads

One of the reasons we’re often so spend-crazy is because all the media around is drills buying into our minds. Everywhere you look there are advertisements, be it on radio, tv, the internet, or even the billboards on the road when you drive.

There’s nothing wrong with advertisements. They’re how honest people sell products and make a living. But it’s important to understand that they do influence you, even when you’re not aware of it. Limiting your exposure to ads will help reduce spending urges.

Use ad blocking software to keep yourself from seeing ads on the internet. Download your music to avoid being bombarded by ear. And record your shows or watch them on Netflix to avoid seeing ads on TV.

Avoid Going Out Where You’ll Be Tempted to Spend

There are lots of places to go to have fun. The park, a museum, the beach. Avoid outings in which the primary form of enjoyment lies in spending. Especially the mall.

Of course, there’s temptation to spend no matter where you go. But you can take steps to mitigate the danger. If you go to the beach, for instance, take your own food and drinks to avoid spending at a restaurant.

Set Goals and Reward Yourself

One of the best ways to get yourself motivated to not spend is the set specific saving goals. Make sure your goals are focused on real, tangible things you can envision: a new house, a dream vacation to a far-off country.

Even when your goals are less tangible (like having x amount invested by y date), be sure to reward yourself for meeting them. Treat yourself to a nice outing, a meal, or a new set of clothes. Just don’t go overboard with the self-rewarding or you may fall back into the habit of overspending.

Be Accountable

It’s easier to stay centered when you have an accountability system in place. Ideally, you should work with others, such as your family members or close friends. Tell them you have certain financial goals and you want their help following up on your progress.

Additionally, you can take advantage of money management apps like, which lets you sync your bank accounts and keep track of your gains and losses.

Limit the Cash You Carry

For extreme cases of impulse spending, try limiting your spending capacity when out and about. Do this by keeping only enough money in your debit card to cover automatic transactions like bills (you don’t want to incur overdraft fees). Withdraw the rest and leave it in a safe place at home.

When outside, only take the amount of cash you know you’ll need. This way, you won’t be able to spend on unnecessary stuff even if you want to.

Unwise spending is something we all struggle with, but it’s a fight you can win. With determination and smart maneuvering, you can unleash the frugal money-manager within.

The Dos and Don’ts of Affiliate Marketing (for Merchants)

Affiliate marketing is one of the most sensible ways of making money on the internet. A website owner (the affiliate) promotes the product of a business (the merchant) and earns commissions on sales made thanks to his work. Usually, referrals and sales are kept track of through the use of special links.

For the affiliate, affiliate marketing makes it possible to earn without having to invest in creating his own products. The merchant gets marketing for which he only has to pay when there are real results.

It really is a no brainer. But just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. Affiliate marketing takes hard work to get right. If you’re just getting started creating an affiliate channel for your business, it’s easy to make mistakes.

Fortunately, multitudes of people have gone through the works of setting up a successful affiliate marketing before you. Learn from their experience, avoid their errors, and reap the success.


Sign up for an Affiliate Network

Managing affiliates on your own requires a lot of work. It may be doable if you only have a few affiliates, but once you have more than a dozen it really isn’t worth it to do it on your own. The best way to acquire new affiliates and work with them efficiently is by joining a network. Some of the best-known and most reputable sites are Clickbank, Linkshare, and Commission Junction.

Keep in mind however, that these tend to charge upfront fees. Their customer support may be minimal. That’s because they’re more geared towards really big corporations.

If you’re a small business, it’s best to look into some of the smaller network, like Share a Sale and Avant Link. These will better fit your budget and provide you with the resources you need to get started on the right path. Many small businesses run into cashflow problems. If they have a promising business, it is often worthwhile to look into creative sources of funding, such as credit cards, friends or relatives, even car title loans, to get the funding they need to 

Build Good Relationships with your Best Affiliates  

The quantity of your affiliates isn’t as important as their quality. In fact, most of the people who sign up to become your affiliates are never going to make a sale for you. Don’t focus on them. Focus on the ones who are making you sales and help them improve. Reach out to them. Communicate, give them tips, resources, and information regarding your products. Ask what you can do to make their job easier.

Appoint Someone as Manager of your Affiliate Network

Affiliate marketing takes time and effort to get right. It isn’t a way to get rich quickly. It may take as much as half a year to become seeing good returns on your time. For that to happen, you need to give your affiliate channel real attention. Planning, execution, results analysis, communication with affiliates.

If you can’t do all of that yourself with consistency, it’s best to delegate. You don’t have to hire a full-time employee to do it. Just someone who has enough time to devote to these very important tasks throughout the work week.


Go it Alone

Creating a working affiliate program can be challenging when new. You can figure it out yourself, but to avoid wasting time and resources, why not call in an expert?

Reach out to someone you know who has had success with affiliate marketing and build relationships with experienced marketers on online forums like A Best Web.

Get Duped by Fraudulent Behavior

Some affiliates out there will try to screw you over. For instance, many coupon sites may say they’re making sales for you, but instead of driving new customers they’re actually taking away your existing base. Set up a full-proof “terms and conditions” policy.

Fail to Pay your Affiliates

Your affiliates are the ones putting themselves out there to help you grow your business. They do a lot of hard work. The last thing you want fail them.

If a delay comes up that prevents immediate payment, let them know. If problems occur with sales that cut into your earnings, look for ways to resolve the issue without undermining the commission of your affiliates. Remember, it’s by building close relationships of trust that you’ll be successful in the long-term.


The results you want may not come immediately, but they will if you’re persistent. By creating a solid plan and building strong relationships with those who help you market your products, affiliate marketing can become a good source of sales for years to come.


Top National Debt Consolidation Companies

Sometimes, debt consolidation is the best possible way out from a tight spot. If a family emergency, job loss, or other life circumstance makes it difficult to pay back debt, debt consolidation–the process of taking out a single loan through which you pay back all your existing loans–can be a viable option. Consolidating your debt makes paying off loans more manageable.

Now, a word of caution. Keep in mind that debt consolidation has an impact on your credit score. Nevertheless, the effect it has on your credit isn’t is bad as bankruptcy, which may be the only other option if you’re unable to pay back what you owe. Debt consolidation can be right for you if you want to be square with your lenders but need help doing so.

If you’re looking for a debt consolidation company to help you out, these are the best, most reputable in the nation.


Debtmerica helps you resolve debt within 24-48 months. They offer a low monthly payment and no upfront fees.

Premier Debt Help

Premier Debt Help offers a free consultation that takes only 10 minutes. They have resolved debts worth thousands of dollars at places like Chase, Amazon, Capital One, and Walmart.

Trident Debt Solutions

Trident guarantees debt settlement in a year or less and doesn’t charge until after you succeed.

Settlement Processors

Helps you create a comprehensive debt management plan. Offers a money back guarantee.Your credit score is not affected by choosing to use a debt management plan.

Coastal Credit Solutions

Offers a free savings estimate online. Low monthly payments.

DS Financial Services

Debt consolidation with no third party accounts and quick settlements. You can settle long overdue debts no matter the amount.

Freedom Debt Relief

You receive a free financial assessment and a plan tailored to your budget. You make monthly payments into an account that you control. Freedom Debt Relief negotiates for you.


Curadebt fights to get a good arrangement for you so that you have money freed up every month.

DMB Financial

DMB has resolved cases totaling $353 million nationwide. You don’t pay until they settle your debt.

DebtWave Credit Counseling

Debtwave is a nationwide nonprofit that helps you lower your interest rates and pay off your credit card debt within 3-5 years.

Tips for Choosing a Reliable Debt Consolidation Company

When you hire a debt consolidation company, you’re trusting them with your livelihood. How do you select the best option?

First off, when you find a candidate, look them up in the Better Business Bureau. Avoid companies that aren’t even accredited with the Better Business Bureau. Stay away from companies that have low ratings or complaints from former customers.

Additionally, a good company will be part of a respected national organization. Look for debt consolidation companies registered with the National Association of Credit Counseling or the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. You may also want to consider going to a non-profit.

Getting behind on debt repayment is stressful, but with the right help you can make it through the tough times and become economically solvent.

6 Absolutely Free Courses to Make You a Powerhouse Online Marketer

As a business owner, you have so much on your plate that marketing can get left behind on the to-do list. Even more so when marketing can seem like a tedious and confusing subject.

Thankfully, some of the web’s best internet marketers have developed courses that help you get a hang of the subject with crisp, jargon-free explanations, relevant examples, and actionable steps. These valuable training courses take you from novice to authority in a matter of days, depending on how much time you invest.

And the best part? Despite the information in these courses being worth thousands, they’re available for free. That means there’s nothing holding you back from reaching your full potential as a marketing force to reckon with.

If you only have time to check out 6 free marketing courses, these are the essential ones you can’t do without:

CopyBlogger’s Content Marketing Courses

Copyblogger is one of the most renowned resources for all things content marketing. Founder Brian Clark built a multi-million dollar business for his marketing software products without spending a dime on advertising. He and his team did it with nothing more than great content. The Copyblogger team has decided to share their secrets with the rest of us in the form of various ebooks/courses available on their site.

The in-depth guides cover topics like content and headline creation, guest posting, and content promotion. All you have to do to receive access is register for a free membership.


Quicksprout is the blog of software entrepreneur and marketer Neil Patel, who was recognized as one of the most exemplary entrepreneurs under the age of 30 by President Obama.

Neil is a big proponent of writing extremely detailed content that serves as the definitive resource for respective topics. Practically every one of his blog posts (which are usually over 4,000 words long) is a mini-course.

He’s also created two free courses titled “Double Your Traffic in 30 Days” and “Double Your Conversions in 30 Days.” You can find these, along with his most important blog posts, right here.

Hubspot Academy

Hubspot is a marketing software company that makes millions of dollars in revenue a year thanks to aggressive inbound marketing. They offer people like you and me a look into their results-driven practices with a structured marketing training and certification.

The course covers topics like link building, SEO, email marketing, landing pages, and sale funnels. The benefit is that once you complete the course, you receive an official certificate from one of the biggest names in internet marketing–which you can then show off to clients.

Google Analytics Academy

Considering a large part of internet marketing involves trying to rank high on Google, you can imagine the value of a training course offered directly by the search giant itself.

Learning to understand Google Analytics data and use it to develop effective strategies is a critical skill for all online marketers. The course guides you in developing measurement goals and offers important insights into the different available metrics. This is course is absolutely essential.

Think with Google

With how important Google is, it’s no wonder they’re on here twice. Think with Google is a great resource that gathers together all their marketing analytics tools (Google Trends, Youtube analytics dashboard, etc.) in one place, along with guides, news, and other helpful content.

Firepole Marketing

Firepole Marketing is a successful coaching and consulting business started by Danny Iny, who made it big through fervent guest blogging. If you sign up for a free membership on the site, you get access to a number of helpful tutorials, such as Engagement from Scratch (an Amazon bestseller), The Naked Marketing Manifesto, and nine special reports on audience building.


Getting a marketing education doesn’t have to put you back several thousands of dollars. Fortunately, there are companies out there that understand the value of sharing their best practices. Take advantage of these free courses to develop skills that will have a lasting impact on your business.

Common Blogging Mistakes Made By Small Business Owners

With businesses that leverage blogs currently attracting 13 times more leads than their non-blogging counterparts, blogging has inarguably developed to become one of the most effective lead generation and engagement strategies for both B2C and B2B businesses. In fact, B2B marketers who’ve included blogging in their overall strategy have a 67% higher success rate in attracting and converting leads than their non-blogging counterparts.

But this doesn’t just come easy- just like other business strategies, your success rate is significantly dependent on how you plan and execute your blogging. If done right, your blog will not only attract many visitors, but also convert them into paying customers.

To help you achieve this in your small business, here are some of the most common blogging mistakes you should avoid replicating:

Failing To Direct Your Readers to a Landing page

You are probably aware of the fact that to generate and maintain traffic, your posts shouldn’t be written as sales pitches- they should rather be concise and progressively informative. Of course this may be confusing, especially considering the fact that you established a blog to boost your sales in the first place.

But- there’s a way out of this. Instead of only posting purely informative pieces like many business do, include relevant links in the context of your posts that directly lead to a landing page. If, for instance, your business is a web design agency, consider hyperlinking texts like “website” and “web design” to your respective landing pages. You could alternatively conclude your posts with relevant call to actions which direct your visitors to your sales page.

Writing Purely For SEO Purposes

Sure, SEO should be a blogging strategy- but don’t let it cloud your overall objectives. Don’t get too immersed in writing for Google that you forget your own audience. In a bid to compete with other businesses and establish themselves, many small business commit this mistake in their race for improved Google rankings. Interestingly, instead of boosting their sales- it does just the opposite. They gradually lose their readership to blogs with constructive, informative content that triggers conversations.

Google’s crawling robots will never click on a link on your blog to buy anything. So, next time you write purely for them, be prepared to lose an audience that’s not interested in SEO jargon content. The only way to redeem your business would be prioritizing on your audience as opposed to SEO.

Concluding Your Posts with Stale Statements

This is a particularly prevalent mistake in most blogs. You’ve committed yourself all through your post, engaging your audience that forget one of the most important bits- the conclusion. After writing a long post, you’ll probably only wiz through the conclusion, proofread your post and move to the next one.

Many business owners don’t comprehend the relevance of a good conclusion. A bad one, especially on a good post, is like serving stale dessert after a scrumptious home-cooked meal. With that in mind, you should avoid disappointing your readers and put all your effort in the last paragraph. Focus on triggering a conversation and you’ll be surprised by the results.

Of course there are many other blogging errors committed by small businesses. To avoid them, begin re-evaluating your blog on a regular basis. But don’t play too safe- otherwise you’ll probably end up with an excruciatingly boring blog. You’re free to experiment with your audience. After all, readers are excited by change, not monotony.