Monday, December 10, 2018

Countdown to Financial Fitness: Saving Money on Heating Costs

Countdown to Financial Fitness: Saving Money on Heating Costs: Winter is coming; in fact, in many parts of the country, it feels like it's already here. Time to review those reminders about how to ...

Saving Money on Heating Costs

Winter is coming; in fact, in many parts of the country, it feels like it's already here. Time to review those reminders about how to save money heating your home.

1.      Change the filter in your furnace. Not only is a filthy furnace filter a fire hazard, but a fresh filter will help your furnace run more efficiently.

2.      Replace worn weather stripping around doors and windows. Repair cracks where your precious heat could be escaping. Seal around ductwork and cable/electrical outlets. Bring your attic insulation up to code or better.

3.      Wrap hot water heaters and pipes. Turn the temperature down a few degrees if you don't relish scalding showers.

4.      Close the flue in your chimney when you're not burning a fire in the fireplace.

5.      Close heating vents in rooms you're not using.

6.      Open blinds and curtains during the day, especially in sun-facing rooms. Close them at night to preserve heat.

7.      Put a timer on your thermostat so you'll use less heat when you're away or sleeping. And turn down the temperature! Just as it's wasteful to keep your house like a meat locker in the summertime, you don't need to live in a sauna during the winter. Put on a sweater and some warm socks and save 10-30% on your heating bills.

What tips do you have for saving money on heating costs? I'd love to hear your comments.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Countdown to Financial Fitness: Navigating New York

Countdown to Financial Fitness: Navigating New York: New York City has always intimidated me. Exciting, yes, especially during the holidays. But it's one of those places that stomps all ov...

Navigating New York

New York City has always intimidated me. Exciting, yes, especially during the holidays. But it's one of those places that stomps all over you while you stop to marvel at the skyscrapers.

My memories from previous trips to New York include getting ripped off by cab drivers who refused to take us the most direct route to our destination. They salivate when they spot a tourist. And everything is so much more expensive in New York!

So I wasn't thrilled when my husband suggested spending Thanksgiving weekend in New York City. A friend's daughter was marching in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and he wanted to go there to show hometown support.

Also, my sister-in-law owns an apartment in the City. She said we could stay there… except… She'd been renovating the bathroom for six months, and it still wasn't done. Not only was there no shower curtain (or anything to hang it from) but the toilet had not yet been installed.

Not confident that the bathroom would be finished in time for our visit, we decided to book a hotel. My husband shopped around, pronounced the Manhattan hotel rates exorbitant, and booked a Hampton Inn across the river in New Jersey. Nice property, but it was across the river in New Jersey. Even with the bargain rate, we'd be spending almost $400 on accommodations, not to mention transportation to and from the City each day. We were excited that the hotel had a shuttle to the Newark airport. But it was only TO the Newark airport. When we arrived, we'd be on our own to get to the hotel. Ka-ching!

Fortunately, my sister-in-law's toilet was installed at the eleventh hour, so we were able to cancel our hotel reservations and stay at the apartment. Free accommodations in a central location. Much better. Next problem was figuring out how to get there.

Working for the airlines, we fly space available. We knew there was a train from the JFK airport into Manhattan, but the flights looked better to LaGuardia. No one could tell us anything about public transportation into the City from LaGuardia—other than cabs.

When we arrived LaGuardia, we found a Visitor Information desk. After the attendant got off the phone, she turned out to be quite helpful. She told us we could buy a Metro card from a machine at the airport and then get on the E train; there was a stop only about three blocks from the apartment. A public bus, the Q70, links the LaGuardia airport with the Metro station (Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue).

It costs $1.00 to purchase a Metro card, and then you have to fill it. Ours is good for a little over a year, and we can keep refilling it in ten-dollar increments until it expires. The woman at the Visitor Center suggested starting with the minimum amount since rides are only $2.75 each. The bus link is also $2.75, but supposedly you can get transfers to and from the subway. The bus link was free during Thanksgiving week, so we didn't have to figure out how to do a transfer. We got into town for $5.50 and walked to my sister-in-law's apartment from the subway station. I was feeling much better about our trip's affordability!

New York is a great city for exploring on foot, but it's huge, so the Metro card came in handy when we had to travel a long distance in a relatively short time. When we went out with my husband's two sisters, we took cabs. Depending on the distance, a cab was almost as cheap as for the four of us to ride the Metro. The secret was to catch the cab going in the correct direction and get out a block or two shy of the destination if it meant avoiding extra traffic lights and U-turns. It helps to know the City which, fortunately, my sister-in-law does.

We found New Yorkers very helpful—from subway workers, to shopkeepers, to policemen. I left feeling much more comfortable with the city, and willing to go back. After all, I still have a Metro card.

Sharon Marchisello is the author of Live Well, Grow Wealth

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Countdown to Financial Fitness: #GivingTuesday

Countdown to Financial Fitness: #GivingTuesday: For  # GivingTuesday , I am supporting the Fayette Humane Society, where I have been a volunteer for over a decade. The Fayette Humane Socie...

#GivingTuesday

For #GivingTuesday, I am supporting the Fayette Humane Society, where I have been a volunteer for over a decade. The Fayette Humane Society is dedicated to ending the needless suffering of unwanted cats and dogs through adoption and an aggressive spay/neuter program.

I started out fostering cats, then bringing them to adoptions and working the adoption event, then leading adoptions, then grant writing and contributing to the newsletter, and now I've been on the Board of Directors since 2011. We don't have a facility or employees, so our overhead is very low--which means over 90% of any donation goes directly to helping the animals.

I just released Live Well, Grow Wealth, my self-help book about basic personal finance and have pledged any royalties I earn from sales today to the Fayette Humane Society. 


Please check it out:
Live Well, Grow Wealth
https://www.amazon.com/Live-Well-Grow-Wealth-C…/…/1986446123
It would make a great gift for a new graduate or retiree, or for anyone trying to get back on track financially.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Countdown to Financial Fitness: Live Well, Grow Wealth

Countdown to Financial Fitness: Live Well, Grow Wealth: At long last, I have updated my personal finance book and plan to release it on Amazon in time for Black Friday. What better Christmas gift...