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Energy Costs

My energy company has started sending out Home Energy Reports.  I figured that I was probably doing pretty well.  After all, I don’t keep the house unreasonably cool, and I don’t spend a lot of time watching TV, and I do my best to always turn off the lights when I leave a room.

My latest home energy report has my home using 4% more than similar homes in the area.

What is going on?

Well, my energy conservation is good, but it’s not perfect.  For example, I have a fan that runs constantly in my office.  That part of the house isn’t connected to the HVAC system, and without a fan, that room quickly gets very hot and very humid.  I like to keep air circulating in that space.  It’s well insulated, but just doesn’t have the necessary ventilation.

I also have a treadmill that I run on a few times a week.  That can’t be good for the energy use.

But these are things I don’t plan to change.  What about what I can change?

My fridge, washer, and dryer were all part of the home when I purchased.  They were new, but not fancy in any way, shape, or form.  I’m sure there are versions that are more eco-friendly.

I know I need new windows.  I’m slowly saving up for them, but for now, I just have to deal with that heat transfer.

I do wonder what my water heater temperature is currently set at and need to see if I should make some changes to that setting.

Many of the lightbulbs in the house are not the most energy conscious.  That’s an easy fix.

I can also be more meticulous about switching off lights when I leave a room.  Just going to be gone 30 minutes? Eh, lights can stay on.  No, the lights should go off.  It should be a habit.

I can also bump the thermostat up a degree or two, especially when I’m home.  It’s easy enough to knock it back down.

I’m sure there are things I’m missing.  What are your tips for saving on energy costs?

Why Should You Know About the MetaTrader4 Platform if You’re a Forex Trader?

How Much Should I Save for Retirement?If you are a part of the Forex market, then you can’t possibly be unaware of what the Meta Trader 4 platform is all about. Most of the market robots thrive on the Meta Trader platform. Meta Trader 4—the forex trading software is designed by Metaquotes. It remains one of the most user-friendly and well known online trading platforms in the market. Both the Forex and CFD traders make use of this platform to maximize gains. The availability of all the necessary trading tools just makes it very easy for traders to function here. The wide array of trading instruments available here includes online quotes, charts, indicators required for technical analysis as well as news feeds. The Japanese candles and bars and lines are a few types of charts which traders can use on this platform. Today, we will offer you a number of reasons for choosing meta trader 4 download.

The Benefits Offered by Meta Trader 4

The platform is equally suitable for novices and experienced traders: Meta Trader has a highly intuitive base, which enables even a novice understand the functionalities of Forex easily. Most of the robots and automated systems function with this platform (i.e. Meta Trader) as their base. As a beginner, you need not worry about the fact that you don’t have the required experience to execute successful trades. The automated system does everything for you. It’s the automated system which will enter and exit trades on your behalf and will also try and keep you on the winning side of the trade. The platform is equally popular among the more experienced traders as well. If the beginners end up choosing automated systems to work on their behalf, the more experienced investors select these systems owing to the lack of time. When the pro traders are busy with other commitments, the automated systems work on their behalf to secure momentary gains.

The availability of a number of trading tools: The Meta Trader 4 platform is backed by a super refined front end trading interface which offers screenshots of full indicators, charting software, accurate technical analysis as well as expert opinions. With the help of this platform you can not only perform automated trading but also devise your own trading strategies and expect successful results as well.

Security: This one remains one of the major reasons why traders across the globe have unequivocally praised the Meta Trader 4 platform. Traders opine that as far as security is concerned, this particular platform can beat any other rival out there.

Special Mention: The Meta Trader Multi Terminal Platform

The Meta Trader Multi Terminal Platform is tailored for investors who are handling several accounts at the same time. Backed by an easily navigable interface, this particular program enables traders to select the method of equal profit distribution among several accounts. Traders can access their trade history, modify, place or delete any type of orders, access the latest Forex news and secure quotes on all instruments.

Expert Tips for Making Unemployment Payments Last Longer

8609288179_1f3d926c3f_zUnemployment payments are supposed to help people through the toughest of times. They provide a safety net for those who can’t find a job. However, the government can’t afford to give us a lot of cash. That means all unemployed people will need to work hard to stretch their budget. Working out how to make your payments last longer can be somewhat of an artform. Those of you who fail to take heed could end up with no food at the end of the month. I’m here to tell you there are lots of solutions. There is no need for your family to miss out on meals, even when you only have a few dollars in the bank.

Shop at budget food stores

No matter where you might live in the world, there are going to be lots of budget food stores in your local area. Make sure you don’t make the mistake of shopping anywhere else. You can make some amazing savings at those stores. You just won’t find any brands you recognise. That isn’t too much of an issue. While the food might be of a lower quality, you can get enough to feed your entire family. Ensure you purchase lots of canned and frozen goods because they are usually cheap.

Don’t purchase luxury items

You should create a budget every month. That will help you to see how much cash you can spend. Luxury items like chocolate are not a good idea if you want to make your money last longer. You should only purchase them if you have children in the home. At the end of the day, there is no need for your kids to suffer. However, you should always look for budget alternatives to their favourite treats. ALDI sells chocolate bars that are similar to Mars and Twix. They have different brand names, but kids won’t tell the difference.

Buy clothing from auction websites

You might need to purchase some clothing for your family. That is almost impossible when you have such a small quantity of cash. However, online auction websites offer the perfect solution. Lots of people sell second-hand branded clothing on those domains. So, you might be able to get the kids some cool sportswear for a fraction of the standard cost. Just make sure you try to buy lots of items from the same seller. That way, you can save on delivery costs.

Get a loan

So long as you think you will find work soon, it might be wise to get a loan. Don’t worry too much if you have a poor credit history because there are some companies willing to help. Ferratum provides cash loans for unemployed people in your position. We found some rival firms online who all offer the same service. So, all is not lost just because you don’t have a job. Just make sure that you can afford to meet the monthly repayments.

You now know how to make your unemployment benefits last longer. After reading my advice, there should be no reason you can’t feed your family. Those of who with the worst budgeting skills might want to let your partner deal with everything. Give them your bank cards so it is impossible for you to overspend. Alternatively, you might like to withdraw all your money in cash. That way, you can physically see how much you’ve got to spend.

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CD Laddering

Gone are the days of super high interest rates.  I think that when I first opened my Capital One 360 Account (then known as ING Direct), the interest rate was around 5%.  It then steadily dropped to 0.75%, where it’s been holding since October of 2012.  Still better than a lot of accounts, but I miss those high interest days.

The accompanying CD rates have also dropped so it’s no longer as lucrative to lock your money away in a CD.  In fact, as of right now, at Capital One 360, the CD rates are below the Savings Account rate until you get to the 24 month CDs, and then they go up every year.

Still, I thought I would look into CD laddering.  What I used to do with  my savings accounts was open a new one year CD every three months for a year.  That way, a portion of my savings was locked away, but every three months, I had access to a quarter of it.  And I made good interest.

But now, with rates as they are, I would need to do at least a 24 month CD to make it worth my while.  Locking my money away for two years or more seems a bit dangerous.  What if I need that money?

So I did a bit more research.  In a 12-month (or shorter) CD, the penalty for early withdrawal is 3 months of interest, and in a longer CD, the penalty is 6 months of interest.  So if an emergency arose and I needed to pull out the money early, the penalty wouldn’t be bad.  If the CD was old enough, I would still come out ahead.  It’s a risk, but a calculated one, since I know my maximum risk.  And with interest rates this low, it’s not like I’m out that much money.

Of course, I’m not going to lock away all of my money, but I’m thinking about putting some of my longer term savings into a CD ladder.  Maybe a 2 year, 3 year, and 4 year or something along those lines.  Ideally, interest rates would go up in 4 years, but you never know.  I’m sure we were all thinking in 2012 that interest rates would be improving again, and here we are almost three years later with no increase from Capital One 360.

Plus keeping my money locked away is another visual reminder that this money is for saving.  It is not for spending and it will not get spent.  Emergencies are one thing, but it’s all too easy to whittle away at a savings account.  Never hurts to make your money a tiny bit harder to access.

How do you manage your savings?  Bonds?  CDs?  Gold bars under your mattress?

What is it worth?

As I have mentioned, I’ve been doing the Konmari method of decluttering my home.  I made it through my clothes and accessories, and am working through books and paper right now.  It’s overwhelming how much stuff I’ve been able to get rid of.  I took 9 bags of clothes to Goodwill and have a huge box of books for our library donation.  And the shredding, oh, the shredding.

I’ve come across a few things that I wasn’t so sure about donating, clothing items that were new or expensive.  So I did some research to see if there was a better way to get rid of these items.

One key to note is my theory on reselling items: If I’m not using it, it is worth zero dollars.   If it has no value to me, it has no value.  So if I can get even a small amount of money for it, it’s worth it.

I had a nice triathlon kit that I never wore because I didn’t like the fit.  It wasn’t returnable, so it just sat in my drawer.  I listed it for sale in a Facebook group for less than half of what I paid for it.  It was snatched up immediately.  Free money!

I also decided to try sending a few items to Thred Up, an online consignment store.  I’m still waiting to see what they will give me for my items.  I’m not expecting much, but again, if I’m not using it, it has no value, so more free money!

I don’t want to become the person who lists everything online for sale because I don’t want to deal with selling and shipping.  I’ve done the online book sales thing back when I was a student and selling my textbooks.  It got annoying because I had to sit and wait for items to sell.  Not worth my time. I want these items out of my house quickly.

I can’t wait to see what else I discover in my house.  I just finished shredding bank records from all the way back in 2001.  Clearly these are not things I need to keep.  I am keeping copies of my tax records from back then, even though experts say I don’t need any more than 3 years worth in my files.  All those years of meticulous personal finance record keeping just make me extra cautious.  Maybe the next time I Konmari, I will get rid of them.

So far, so good.  It’s refreshing to get rid of so much stuff.  I’m excited to finally get my office cleaned out and not just have a room filled with junk.