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Is Switching to Solar Power Worth It?

Posted on 4/21/2015 9:31 EST

For eco-minded consumers, residential solar power is an attractive alternative to relying on a utility company. Harvesting energy from the sun provides electricity without the greenhouse gas emissions of traditional power sources. But is it a good choice for the frugal? Although the upfront cost is steep, consumers in America's largest cities can save between $44 and $187 a month on electricity by investing in solar, according to a 2015 report by the NC Clean Energy Technology Center. For nine out of 10 homeowners, putting in a rooftop solar panel system would cost no more than paying their current electric bill over the life of the system. Read More

14 Things to Know About Assisted Living

Posted on 4/21/2015 9:07 EST

Every day 10,000 baby boomers turn 65, and many are expected to live well into their 80s. The aging of the U.S. population means increased demand for long-term care, and that puts pressure on costs. According to Genworth, a financial services company, the average annual cost for an assisted living facility is currently $43,200; nursing homes charge more than double that. Insurance policies can help defray expenses, but as with the cost of care itself, long-term care insurance rates are rising at a rapid clip. Read More

11 Amazing Zip Line Adventures For Less

Posted on 4/21/2015 8:26 EST

The thought of zipping down a mountain at treetop level can make even the hardiest adventurer a bit nervous. And flying downhill suspended on a thin cable isn't the only thing that rattles the nerves: A zip line adventure can cost $150 or more. Cheapism.com thought there must be a way to get that kind of excitement for less, and we were right. Here are 11 zip lines that offer speed, views, and plenty of adrenaline for $50 or less. Read More

10 Jobs That Get You Discounts

Posted on 4/20/2015 9:39 EST

Does your job entitle you to discounts on clothing, travel, computers, cars, or even a house? People in many professions enjoy employee discounts from the companies where they work. In some cases, other businesses offer discounts to show appreciation for people who provide a public service. Either way, these 10 jobs promise savings for those who take advantage. Read More

30 Easy Ways to Make Money Online

Posted on 4/20/2015 8:40 EST

Looking for a little extra income without the commitment of a part-time job? It's easy to make $5 or $10 on the side if you know where to start. You can even make money while sitting on your couch or during your usual shopping trip using a variety of online and mobile apps. More traditional offline methods also provide a steady extra income stream that you can turn on or off whenever you like. Read More

Weekly Update: Earth Day, 50 Scenic Campgrounds, and More

Posted on 4/17/2015 15:01 EST

With Earth Day coming up on Monday, April 22, we turned our attention this week to the outdoors and the environment. We updated our guide to cheap compost bins with a new recommendation. On the Cheapism blog, we highlighted other ways to save the earth and save money at the same time, such as reusing or upcycling common household items and raising chickens for eggs. Readers who want to get up close and personal with Mother Nature can look to our roundup of 50 cheap campgrounds to find a scenic spot in every state. Read More

Dining Out vs. Cooking at Home: Which Is Cheaper?

Posted on 4/17/2015 12:06 EST

You can't beat the convenience of dining out. Having professionals prepare and serve your food is relaxing and eliminates the hassle of grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning up. On the other hand, there are many benefits to cooking your own meals. It's a chance to connect with the food you prepare, season it exactly to your liking, and do something nice for the people around your table. But which option is cheaper? With so many affordable casual restaurants, the cost of dining out can be surprisingly low these days. Cheapism.com took a closer look to find out if cooking at home actually saves consumers money. Read More

Top 10 Affordable Cities for Starting a Business

Posted on 4/17/2015 9:08 EST

When starting a business, keep in mind the old real-estate adage "location, location, location." For many entrepreneurs, this translates to Silicon Valley or Boston or New York City. These days, though, you don't need a VC firm down the street to secure funding, and there are a lot of other factors to consider. Chief among them: Can you afford to live while you get up and running? Cheapism.com looked at the cost of living, per capita income, education level, unemployment rate, and policy environment in the nation's largest metro areas to come up with 10 affordable cities for starting a business. Read More

14 Things to Know Before Putting Your Place on Airbnb

Posted on 4/16/2015 10:52 EST

If you have a room or second house to spare, you're sitting on a potential gold mine. So you should just post a rental notice and watch the money flow in, right? It's not quite that easy, but many people are earning extra income by listing their space on peer-to-peer rental marketplaces. Some even stay at a friend's house several nights a month while their home is rented out. Cheapism.com spoke with several hosts about the time and costs involved as well as the ups and downs of the experience. Read More

4 Best Low-Cost Compost Bins for Earth Day

Posted on 4/16/2015 9:00 EST

There are lots of thrifty ways to celebrate Earth Day, from hugging a tree to picking up litter to starting a compost heap. Composting turns kitchen and yard waste into economical fertilizer rather than landfill trash. Although it costs nothing to pile food scraps and coffee grounds in the backyard, many composters live in urban areas or prefer to buy bins to contain odor, keep pests away, and speed up the process. Cheapism.com recommends four highly rated compost bins under $50. Two are indoor bins for collecting kitchen waste and two are larger outdoor bins where the composting process happens. Read More

Your First House: 13 Tips for Saving and Buying

Posted on 4/16/2015 8:25 EST

The advantages of home ownership are many: building equity; tax deductions; the promise of appreciating value; and having a place that belongs to you. With mortgage rates at historic lows, this is an opportune time to take the big step. But first, make sure that homeownership is right for you. If you plan to stay in the home for at least five years and your monthly nut will not exceed 43 percent of your income, the federal Consumer Finance Protection Bureau says you can give yourself the "go" sign. Read More

Is Raising Chickens Cheaper Than Buying Eggs?

Posted on 4/15/2015 9:38 EST

With sustainability securing its place in the popular zeitgeist, raising chickens in the backyard holds a certain appeal. It conveys commitment to a lifestyle: the natural grooming of the landscape as the flock roams free, the peace of mind from knowing where your food comes from, and the general thrill that comes with money-saving self-sufficiency. Cheapism.com wanted to know whether it pays to raise chickens in the backyard -- for their eggs, mind you, not the meat. The answer, it seems, is a qualified "yes." Read More

21 Common Household Items to Reuse and Upcycle

Posted on 4/15/2015 9:17 EST

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the average American generates 4.38 pounds of waste every day. About 1.51 pounds of that is recycled or composted, but that leaves a lot of waste heading to the landfill. Many items can be reused or recycled right at home, and Cheapism.com identified 21 examples of common household goods with more than one life. Some items can even be upcycled -- recycled in such a way that their value increases. These projects might involve learning a new skill or using new tools, but most are fairly straightforward and don't require much of an investment. Read More

10 Things to Buy or Not to Buy in May

Posted on 4/15/2015 8:21 EST

As the warm weather moves in and schools let out for summer, May is the month to buy household goods and entertaining essentials. It's the perfect time for stocking up ahead of summer celebrations. Prepare for graduation parties and Memorial Day barbecues by finding deals to prep your food (cookware and BBQ supplies) and welcome your guests (party supplies). Read More

50 Scenic Campgrounds Under $20 in Every State

Posted on 4/14/2015 9:56 EST

Camp sites are getting expensive. Spend up to $50 a night and all you get are loud neighbors, a picnic bench, and a fire pit. Glamorous camping (aka glamping) might include cleaner bathroom facilities with flush toilets and hot showers, but the prices go up accordingly. Still, there are many campsites with cheap fees if you know where to look. Cheapism.com found beautiful and inexpensive sites across the country. And while you can always set up a tent in the wilderness and camp for free (check local laws first), the focus here is on tent camping at sites with toilets, potable water, and a maximum charge of $20 a night. Read More

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