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Personal Finance

11/07/16 Personal Finance , Saving # ,

My Stupid Impulse Purchase of the Week

My Stupid Impulse Purchase of the Week

No one plans on making impulse purchases. That’s what they are — an impulse. But it seems like every week or so I make a stupid impulse purchase that makes me wonder if I have any control over how I spend money.

My latest impulse purchase: Coffee.

It was $5 for a small bag of raspberry chocolate I saw by the checkout counter at Marshalls. Here are the reasons that ran through my head of why I should buy this wonderful sounding coffee:

  • I like coffee.
  • I like trying new things, including different types of coffee.
  • I like raspberries.
  • I love chocolate.
  • Raspberries and chocolate together sound awesome.
  • It’s only $5.

What makes it a stupid impulse purchase is that it was lousy coffee. And that I wasted $5. Continue reading

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10/12/16 Personal Finance #

What I’m Doing With a $250 Windfall

What I’m Doing With a $250 Windfall


I won $250 in a contest recently, and while it’s not exactly a windfall that will change my life like a lottery win could, it was enough to get me daydreaming about the possibilities with it.

It was a simple contest, which is my prerequisite for entering any contest: Take a photo of myself wearing the hat of a, a sponsor at FinCon, a conference for financial bloggers that I attended in late September. Then put it up on Twitter, with #ClarkCash and #FinCon16 in the tweet after following @ClarkHoward on Twitter.

The free hat was in a swag bag given to attendees, with a business card attached to the hat giving instructions on how to win $250:

“The 4 most creative entries will each win $250 in cash for a total of $1,000! Winners will be announced at Clark Howard’s #FinCon16 keynote speech Thursday at 4:30 p.m.”

I noticed the hat in the swag bag after an afternoon walking around a tent full of sponsors that I wanted to meet, with the hope that I could either write for some of them or have them advertise on my personal finance blogs. I went to my hotel room to rest for a bit when I read about the contest on the free hat, and decided to give it a try.

I pulled some cash out of my wallet and took two photos and tweeted them out:


And this: Continue reading

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09/06/16 Personal Finance , Retirement , Saving , Work #

I’m a Financial Blogger Who Isn’t Sinking in Debt. Is That Bad?

I’m a Financial Blogger Who Isn’t Sinking in Debt. Is That Bad?


I’m going to a conference in a few weeks for financial bloggers. Many of the attendees have been in some major debt at some point in their lives, and write about it often and how they’ve overcome it.

Not me. I have three finance blogs — one focuses on personal finance, another on investing, and this one, CashSmarter, is where I share my life lessons on personal finance. Other than a mortgage, I don’t have any major debts and I’ve never been so far in debt to a credit card that I’ve had to pay off thousands and thousands of it down to get my financial life in order.

All of this makes me wonder if I’m meeting my goal of telling a compelling financial story that people want to read about. If I haven’t been $147,000 in debt, or haven’t paid off $26,000 in debt in 18 months — real stories by real bloggers I respect and enjoy reading — how is my story worth reading?

Reading how someone extricated themselves from six figures of debt can be fascinating — even if you’ve never been in that much debt. Anyone with a credit card knows how easy it can be to add more charges to a card, so going into a huge amount of debt isn’t too far-fetched for many of us.

And getting out of it is the typical American tale of overcoming large obstacles to become a success. It’s a life lesson worth reading about for lots of people. 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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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.