Personal Finance for All

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05/23/16 Travel , Work # ,

Doing Work on Vacation is a Horrible Idea

Doing Work on Vacation is a Horrible Idea

Doing work on vacation can sound like the best of both worlds: You’re relaxing at a beach, for example, while getting some work done on your laptop so that you can afford the vacation you’re on.

It’s also a way to let the boss — if you have one — know that you’re a serious worker who goes above and beyond the call of duty to get work done whenever needed.

If you’re doing some work on vacation you’re not alone. A survey found that 61 percent of people do some work while on vacation. Another survey found that 35 percent of millennials worked every day of their vacation.

As a freelance writer who works for myself, I’ve found other entrepreneurs who take pride in cramming in some work while on vacation. I know a freelancer who is traveling in Europe now with his family while setting aside a few hours each day to work.

There’s always some work to be done, whether you work for yourself or someone else, and time off from work is more time to get work done. Continue reading

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05/09/16 Travel # ,

Westin Gets it Wrong on Vacation Days

Westin Gets it Wrong on Vacation Days


I’m a sucker for vacation photos. If a hotel chain puts up a social media post about great spots with a photo of a deserted beach, I’ll likely click on it. My life goal is to be on a perpetual vacation, and this is one way to do it.

Vacation photos and websites for hotels dot my social media accounts, and a sponsored post by Westin Hotels & Resorts in my Facebook feed last week caught my attention for its stupidity:

vacation“You Don’t Need More Vacation Days. You Need More Unforgettable Days.”

Or as Westin’s social media person wrote above a photo of a lush valley somewhere (Hawaii?):

“You don’t need more vacation days, you need better ones.” Continue reading

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04/14/16 Personal Finance # , ,

Financial Lessons I Learned From My Contractor

Financial Lessons I Learned From My Contractor

We’re at the tail end of a bathroom remodel in our home, and like anyone who has had a contractor take over an important part of their home for a few weeks, I’ve learned it’s not something I want to do often.

If you’ve dealt with a contractor or construction crew in your home, then you probably have a horror story to tell. I’m not here to tell you our horror story. Delays and mistakes are common in dealing with anything as big and complex as a house.

As a personal finance freelance writer who almost always considers things from a personal finance perspective, there were some financial lessons that our contractor inadvertently taught us. Among them:

Low prices are low for a reason

I used an app called Thumbtack to find professionals to come to our house and give us a price quote after reviewing the job and our needs. Of four contractors who responded to my request through the app, one didn’t get back to me, one offered an exceeding high price for the size of our small bathroom, one offered a fair price, and one didn’t meet our deadline for submitting a bid.

Which contractor did we pick? The one with the lowest price, though with only one other contractor providing a price, the competition wasn’t fierce. But after contacting references, I was confident he was a good choice.

But then his low price, which didn’t seem alarmingly low and was a fair, started to make some sense. He wasn’t as organized as I expected someone to be who was in charge of multiple things being replaced in a bathroom. A few things weren’t measured correctly. Continue reading

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04/12/16 Personal Finance

How to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

Making your home more energy efficient is not only good for the environment but it can also save you money over the long-term too.

But just what does an energy efficient home look like?

Below you’ll find an interesting infographic about the anatomy of an energy efficient home that will help you make the best decisions about which energy-saving methods to implement in your own home to save the most money.

Anatomy of an Energy Efficient Home
Anatomy of an Energy Efficient Home created by

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03/28/16 Saving # ,

Why We’re Not Spending Our Tax Refund

Why We’re Not Spending Our Tax Refund

There are times in life to be a spendthrift and times when being conservative with your money is the best choice. A tax refund isn’t the best thing to be loose with when it’s burning a hole in your pocket.

Everyone’s financial situation is different, so I don’t want to pretend to tell everyone to eat their vegetables and do what my wife and I are doing with our tax refund — put it in the bank and forget about it. But as a freelance writer with a varying income, and as someone who is a lifelong saver, putting our federal tax refund in the bank is an easy choice.

The average federal tax refund this year is $3,120, according to the Internal Revenue Service. Our refund is well north of that figure, mainly because I paid quarterly taxes in 2015 and had a fair amount of tax breaks from the websites I own.

I could use the tax refund to pay quarterly estimated taxes this year, but I don’t need to make those payments due to a few tax reasons.

Eating my broccoli

So where is the refund going, exactly? Into a boring one-year CD that pays 0.7 percent interest. I know, it’s as boring and as good for me as eating broccoli. I might as well stash the money under a mattress.

One reason I’m putting it in a CD is so that I’ll forget about it and will get an email reminder in a year that the CD has expired. I’ll then use it to pay our federal taxes for 2016.

I should note that getting a tax refund isn’t part of my budget plan each year. My goal is to come as close to breaking even as we can on our taxes each year so that we don’t get a refund or owe any more money. Or maybe owe a little bit or get a small refund. Continue reading

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Hi, I'm Aaron Crowe. Welcome to CashSmarter. I'm a personal finance freelance writer who enjoys spending my money wisely and using minimalism to make my money last longer while increasing income.
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