March 31

March 31, 2017  
Filed under RESOURCE GUIDE

Friday, March 31

Thomas Mundy Peterson of Perth Amboy, New Jersey, was the first black man to vote in a U.S. election following the ratification of the 15th Amendment. It was March 31, 1870, the day after the amendment took effect, and the vote concerned a municipal charter referendum. The referendum passed and Peterson was later chosen to join the committee to revise the town’s charter.

For his service in which war, Sergeant William Carney was the first black man to be awarded the Medal of Honor?
A) Revolutionary War
B) U.S. Civil War
C) War of 1812
D) World War II

Previous answer: Jerome Lester Horwitz was the real name of Curly Howard, goofiest of The Three Stooges.

TRIVIA FANS: Leslie Elman is the author of “Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous and Totally Off the Wall Facts.” Contact her at triviabitsleslie@gmail.com.

 

March 30

March 30, 2017  
Filed under RESOURCE GUIDE

Thursday, March 30

In the Catholic Church, St. Jerome was known as a great scholar and lover of books. Understandably, he is now considered the patron saint of librarians. He is also the person responsible for translating the Old Testament from Hebrew to Latin in a version of the Bible known as the Vulgate. Thus, he’s also the patron saint of translators.

Which comic actor was born Jerome Horwitz?
A) Jack Black
B) Curly Howard
C) Buster Keaton
D) Jerry Stiller

Previous answer: Instead of selling the family cow, Jack trades it for a handful of magic beans in “Jack and the Beanstalk.”

TRIVIA FANS: Leslie Elman is the author of “Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous and Totally Off the Wall Facts.” Contact her at triviabitsleslie@gmail.com.

 

How Long Should You Keep Important Papers?

March 30, 2017  
Filed under Blogs

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE
BY MARY HUNT

Every year about this time, my mailbox tells me it’s time to review the general guidelines on how long to keep statements, paid bills and other important paperwork. Today’s quick review should help you get your paperwork in order just in time to file your 2016 tax return.

Here are the general rules for how long to keep important household papers:
ONE YEAR. Keep pay stubs for at least one year, so you can reconcile them against your W-2 (this is the form from your employer that shows how your annual earnings were allocated, which you attach to your tax return) and your Social Security Earnings Statement (which you receive once a year in the mail, though you can request a copy any time on the Social Security website). You’ll be happy to have your pay stubs to prove your earnings and withholdings if your records do not match the entries on these forms.
ACTIVE/INDEFINITE. As for receipts and records of bills paid, keep them only as long as the situation is active. For example, a paid water bill is no longer active, but the receipt for your new water heater is active. Attach it to the owner’s manual and warranty. You can confidently destroy statements for closed accounts, expired warranties, cancelled checks for minor items that are not related to a proof of purchase or income tax, and instructions for appliances or equipment that you have sold or discarded. Every home needs a paper shredder.
THREE YEARS MINIMUM. The IRS requires that you keep your tax returns and substantiating documentation as long as is necessary to prove the validity of those returns. There are some experts who say that means forever. Others say seven years is sufficient. You decide for your own particular situation.
SEVEN YEARS. Seven years from the last date of activity is sufficient for moving expenses, business or employee expense records, appraisals, charitable contributions and medical expenses.
FOREVER. Some of your important papers should be kept forever, such as birth records, military records, marriage records, divorce records, death records, education records, employment records, medical records, lawsuit records and family history documentation.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get organized. Four boxes with lids and a highlighter pen make a dandy system. Label the boxes “Active/Indefinite,” “Three Years,” “Seven Years” and “Forever.” Next, get all your paperwork out and into one place. As you go through the stacks, assess how much time has passed from the last date of activity. Once you find the date on the document, highlight it so you won’t have to search for the date the next time you go through these items. Then, assign each item to its proper box.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

 

 

 

March 29

March 29, 2017  
Filed under RESOURCE GUIDE

Wednesday, March 29

Cows outnumber people in nine U.S. states, starting with South Dakota, where there are 4.5 cows for every resident. The others — in descending order — are Nebraska, Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, Kansas, Idaho, Iowa and Oklahoma.

Which folk tale begins with the main character attempting to sell the family cow?
A) “Aladdin”
B) “Jack and the Beanstalk”
C) “Peter and the Wolf”
D) “Rumpelstiltskin”

Previous answer: John Steinbeck took the title for “The Grapes of Wrath” from “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

TRIVIA FANS: Leslie Elman is the author of “Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous and Totally Off the Wall Facts.” Contact her at triviabitsleslie@gmail.com.

 

Great Dates for Couples on a Tight Budget

March 29, 2017  
Filed under Blogs

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE
BY MARY HUNT

Wallet a little thin these days? That shouldn’t mean you have to cancel all your dates until things begin to look up in the finance department. The solution is to get creative and find reasonable and fun alternatives that require only pocket change and the right attitude or, with any luck, are absolutely free.

Here are nine ideas to get your creativity going.
VOLUNTEER TOGETHER. Find a local charity that involves some area of life you are passionate about, such as a soup kitchen or pet shelter. Volunteer for the day.
FREE DAY. Most art galleries and museums have a free day or free hours each month. For example, in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is free for L.A. County residents after 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. And admission at The Getty Center is always free. You’ll be amazed how many museums have gone to a “pay as you wish” admission. Check museums in your area.
KARAOKE. Just hear me out. Karaoke is guaranteed to be a fun night, even if you can’t carry a tune. Let your hair down; spring for a few drinks; and have a ball.
STARGAZE. When is the last time you laid down on a blanket and stared at the stars? Grab some hot chocolate, some warm blankets and your best gal or guy, and then try to find your favorite constellations. If you need some guidance, you can download apps like Star Tracker.
WINE OR BEER TOUR. Most tours of local breweries and wineries are free or only a few bucks — and so much fun. You’ll learn some stuff you didn’t know, get to taste a variety of drinks and have a great time.
WALK. Seriously. Whether it’s in a park, downtown or along a waterfront, walking is such a good way to have a great talk and open up. Actually, you won’t find a better activity to get to know each other. And you’ll get a little exercise to boot.
HIKE. If you live in Colorado, as I do, you already know the meaning of hiking! There is no end to the number of hikes available, and they’re all free. All you really have to pay for is gas to get to the trail, and a few snacks and bottles of water for the journey. Don’t know of any hiking trails near you? Google the name of your city plus the word “tourist.” You’ll be amazed how many things there are to do, some of which you may not even be aware.
PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR. Grab your digital cameras or camera phones and take off. Just wander around and take pictures — of each other, your surroundings and so on. Open you eyes to really see and record all of the beauty that surrounds you.
HIT THE BOOKS. Whether it’s a glorious central library downtown or a cozy regional bookstore, spend a few hours browsing. Talk about your favorite books. Browse the art and photography books, and point out what you like. You can be as corny or intellectual as you like. Grab a coffee, and then sit and chat.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

 

 

 

March 28

March 28, 2017  
Filed under RESOURCE GUIDE

Tuesday, March 28

Julia Ward Howe wrote, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,” properly known as “Battle-Hymn of the Republic,” in 1861 as a reaction to the U.S. Civil War. (She was paid $4 — possibly $5 — when the poem was published in the Atlantic Monthly.) In her day, she was a highly regarded poet, though her husband was so opposed to her literary career that she published her first book of poetry, “Passion Flowers,” anonymously. Not surprisingly, many of those poems explored the subject of unhappy marriages.

Which 20th-century novel takes its title from “Battle Hymn of the Republic”?
A) “Brave New World”
B) “The Grapes of Wrath”
C) “The House of Mirth”
D) “Look Homeward, Angel”

Previous answer: Croatia’s top-level domain country code, .hr, comes from Hrvatska, the country’s name in Croatian.

TRIVIA FANS: Leslie Elman is the author of “Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous and Totally Off the Wall Facts.” Contact her at triviabitsleslie@gmail.com.

 

How to Buy a Mattress

March 28, 2017  
Filed under Blogs

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE
BY MARY HUNT

If you want to drive yourself nuts, go shopping for a new mattress. You’ll hear dozens of theories on coils, fabrics, stuffing, foam density and warranties.

What I know about buying a mattress I’ve learned from the best — insiders who are now retired from the sleep-products industry.
CONFUSION FACTOR. All of the major brands, like Simmons, Serta and Sealy, make decent mattresses. But if you’re planning to go from one chain store to the next comparing prices, forget it. The major brands change the names of the mattresses for each store, so it is impossible to compare mattresses by make and model.
SHOP BY LEVEL. Each company makes levels of mattresses: very cheap, decently cheap, good and best. That’s not what they call them, but you can tell which level a mattress is by the pricing within each manufacturer’s line of products. Expect several models in each price level.
PRICE MATTERS. You get what you pay for in a mattress. A very cheap mattress is about 10 percent materials (foam, steel, padding) and 90 percent air; a mid-level mattress is about 40 percent materials; and so on. The more material, the better the product and the higher the price. A high-quality mattress will be up to 90 percent materials, and therefore the heaviest. You can lift a mattress to determine its quality.
WEIGHT MATTERS. The heavier the sleeper, the heavier you want the mattress to be. A lightweight mattress will do just fine for a 50-pound child or in a guest room that is seldom used. But for heavy adults, opt for the heaviest mattress you can afford.
TAKE A NAP. Once you’ve narrowed your selection to two or three, take a nap. Spend at least 15 minutes on each of the beds you are considering. Comfort is key here, so don’t make a hasty decision.
RETURNABLE. Make sure there is at least a 30-day trial period. This is a deal-breaker, and you should absolutely not purchase a bed without this guarantee, no matter what else the store is offering. Most beds require a few weeks of sleeping to discover how they will feel long-term. Don’t give up on a new bed after a few bad nights. Your body has to adjust to it.
TRUST THE CLUBS. Warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club carry a limited choice of name-brand mattress sets in all sizes. They’re typically top of the line for cut-rate prices, but you won’t have a salesman to consult (perhaps that’s a good thing), and you won’t be able to take a nap. That said, I can say from personal experience that both Costco and Sam’s Club make wise choices and have generous return/refund policies. Trust them, and you’ll knock hundreds of dollars off your mattress cost.
CONSIDER ONLINE. There’s a new trend toward low-priced high-comfort mattresses that you can order online and have sent your doorstep rolled up in a box that is lightweight enough to easily maneuver up a narrow staircase. I know it sound ridiculous, but it is the new wave. The thousands and thousands of very happy customers can’t all be wrong. Companies like Tuft & Needle, Leesa and Casper are getting thousands of rave reviews. All three of these companies have a 100-night guarantee with free return for a full refund, no questions asked. Given the customer feedback and the amazingly low prices, I think it’s worth considering a mattress you can’t test in a store — but only if you have nothing to lose for trying and you will carry through with a no-hassle return if it’s not right for you.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM
 

 

 

March 27

March 27, 2017  
Filed under RESOURCE GUIDE

WEEK OF MARCH 27

Monday, March 27

The earth has three distinct layers. At its center is a super-hot metallic core. Surrounding that is the mantle, which is about 1,700 miles deep. The outer layer is the crust. And between the mantle and the crust is a defined zone known as the Mohorovicic discontinuity, or the Moho. It’s named for Croatian seismologist Andrija Mohorovicic, who demonstrated its existence by studying the patterns of seismic waves from an earthquake that hit Croatia in 1909.

What is the top-level domain country code for Croatia?
A) .cr
B) .cz
C) .hr
D) .za

Previous answer: Albert Einstein played the violin.

TRIVIA FANS: Leslie Elman is the author of “Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous and Totally Off the Wall Facts.” Contact her at triviabitsleslie@gmail.com.

 

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

How to Have More Money

March 27, 2017  
Filed under Blogs

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE
BY MARY HUNT

You need more money, and you need it now. What are you choices? You have two: You can increase your income, or you can reduce your spending.

There are several ways to increase your income:
INCREASE INCOME
Get a bigger paycheck. Ask for a raise; land a new job that pays a lot more; or get a second (or third) job to supplement your income.
Win the lottery. Keep in mind when considering this option that your chances of being struck by lightning are much higher than your chances of winning the lottery.
Sell your assets. Find a cash buyer for your grandmother’s sterling silver, your boat or some other asset.
All of these are ways for you to increase your income and improve your financial picture. But let’s get real: If you could do any of these things, you would have done so already, and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
While increasing your income is a way to change your financial picture in theory, it is not always easy or effective. More income means higher taxes and increased work-related expenses. And it does nothing to address old habits of overspending and incurring too much debt.
Your second option to change your financial situation is to reduce spending.
REDUCE SPENDING
Unless you are living below the poverty line, I am confident you can reduce your expenditures without compromising your standard of living.
Target every area. The secret is to look at every area of spending and reduce it a little bit. It all adds up!
Instantaneous. When you reduce your expenses, the effect is instantaneous. The money you don’t spend remains in your pocket. It’s your money, and it has already been taxed. Every expense you have is a candidate for some type of systematic reduction.
Less stress. Reducing your expenses forces you to focus on what really matters. You begin to notice unneeded baggage, and you’re more willing to acknowledge what brings you joy, what needs to go and how to create the life you love.
More contentment. Throwing conspicuous consumption into reverse has a calming effect on both adults and kids. Overindulging complicates life and causes much stress.
The key to achieving financial freedom is to spend less than you earn. It takes desire and commitment to live below your means without giving up your style and your quality of life.
Don’t worry that you’re going to lose your dignity. In fact, no one needs to know about your new resolve to find ways to drastically cut your expenses. You don’t have to print “I’m Cheap!” on your forehead. A better option is to engrave this motto in your mind: Wherever I am, whatever I do, there is a way to do it for less.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

 

 

 

March 25

March 25, 2017  
Filed under RESOURCE GUIDE

Saturday, March 25

In 1952, Albert Einstein was asked to become the president of Israel. He declined the offer. “I have never in my life undertaken a task that I could not fulfill to the satisfaction of my conscience,” he said in a prepared statement, adding that he preferred to devote himself to scholarly pursuits. He was 73 years old at the time, nearing the end of his career and his life (he died in 1955), and maybe just too smart to go into politics.

Albert Einstein was an accomplished player of which musical instrument?
A) Accordion
B) Banjo
C) Trumpet
D) Violin

Previous answer: Queen Victoria wore a white wedding gown when she married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1840.

TRIVIA FANS: Leslie Elman is the author of “Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous and Totally Off the Wall Facts.” Contact her at triviabitsleslie@gmail.com.

 

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