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Not For The Black Market – GNU’s ‘Taler

Based on the currently available literature, Taler is called to provide a solution for mainstream organizations’ use of parallel payment systems and for customers. Similar to cryptocurrency, the ethos behind the project is an attempt to distance itself from Bitcoin.

How Does the System Work?

The system provides anonymity for those users, who will use coins as a stand-in for national currencies. It is also deprived of exposure to any volatility specific to a new cryptocurrency. When paying with Taler, your identity must not necessarily be revealed to the merchant.

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More on Taler

As a rule, the Taler, a GNU-related project, is free and you can readily access the code. In the 1980s, Stallman coined the term “free software.” Taler has had quiet potential or progress in the mainstream economy. According to Christian Grothoff, the systems maintainer and software architect, this is the 1st alpha release of the 4 basic components that provide logic for running a bank, exchange, merchant, and wallet.

When it comes to deployment, The Register states the criticism of Taler may well be originated from Bitcoin circles. Critics in the field note the weaknesses in the Bitcoin ecosystem to prove that a Taler-like platform is so much important for the mainstream.

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What sources of information to help the Forex market trader?

You can define some basic information flows, which may use the trader:

  1. The most convenient to handle help getting Forex news feed, which is equipped with all of the major Internet trading platform. As a rule, your broker specialists on this tape spread in real-time mode all the news relevant to the Forex market.
  2. If you want to follow more closely and in detail what is happening in the financial world, we can recommend prompt and thorough news feeds and Russian business world news agencies. For example, Bloomberg (by Bloomberg), Reuters (to Reuters) (in English), and (in Russian), RBC. There are the most important forex trading news.

Bloomberg (Bloomberg) and Reuters (Reuters) are the leading news agencies of the world in the field of economy. Their news about forex trading is the most complete, objective and timely manner. In particular, in the course of trade is useful to have over the open Internet trading platform of the terminal on which you are working, of online-motion graphics currency news agency Bloomberg (Bloomberg). Quotes on these charts ahead of quotations of the majority of Internet trading platforms for a few seconds, allowing you to quickly make a decision and get ready for action on the opening or closing of the transaction.

  1. It is useful to keep track of the forex trading calendar, and macroeconomic news, and it makes sense to refer to the analytical materials on the Forex market for the last day for a more detailed study of the financial market (link).

What to look for in the information flow?

In addition to the information about the courses of movement of currencies most relevant for Forex trader are topics such as:

  1. The statements and actions of international financial institutions – the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development;
  2. The statements and actions of the central banks of major economies of the world (for example, changes in interest or discount rates, etc.);
  3. The publication of macroeconomic indicators of the issuing countries listed in the Forex market currencies – the US, Canada, UK, Japan, South Africa, Israel, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the “eurozone” countries;
  4. The most important economic news of the countries belonging to the Big twenty;
  5. The reports of the largest to credit, bankruptcy, merger decisions and the world’s largest banks and corporations, performances largest investors.

With the news, you can determine in which direction to move the course of a currency. Technical analysis will allow you to specify the limits of the potential of this trend. A properly applied trading strategy allows you to remove existing market trends maximum profit.

6 Ways of Improving Your Lottery Odds

A retirement or savings plan based on winning the lottery isn’t actually a plan — it’s a wish. There are much smarter things to do with your hard earned cash. We all know this. Yet many of us still buy numbers and scratchers, for the thrill, for the dream. If you just can’t resist, take a moment to slightly improve your odds. Just promise that if you win with any of these lottery hacks, you’ll share your winnings with me. It’s only fair.

1. Pick your own numbers. Richard Lustig, seven-time lottery winner whose total earnings amount to more than $1 million, claims that one foolproof way to increase your chances of cashing in is to pick your own numbers rather than allowing the system do a quick pick for you. In an interview with CBS News a couple years ago, he said, “The lazy way out is to buy quick-picks. The computer picks out the numbers. Don’t play quick-picks. Quick-picks are the worst thing you can do, you are playing with the worst odds.”

Instead, choose your numbers, research them to make sure they’re a good set of numbers, and stick with them. But how do you know if they’re ‘good’ numbers? By buying his book, “Learn How to Increase Your Chance of Winning the Lottery,” of course. On second thought …

2. Stick to a regular set of numbers. Once you’ve found a set of ‘good’ numbers as determined by your research, stick to them — and then play consistently.

“Obviously playing regularly will boost your chances. There is no worse feeling than seeing your winning numbers on the week you forgot to buy your ticket!” suggests MSN Money.

3. Buy more tickets, even if you have to split it. Sometimes increasing the number of tickets you purchase is cost prohibitive. In those cases, especially when massive jackpots are at stake, it may make sense to go in on a large number of tickets with a group of people, like friends, family or co-workers. Office lottery pools are quite common when lotteries reach their peak jackpots, and it’s not unusual to hear about a group of coworkers winning the jackpot and thus splitting the windfall.

4. Check your numbers religiously. How’s this for a sobering statistic: About $2 billion in lottery prizes go unclaimed every year, according to CNN Money. This could be for several reasons, like players have lost their winning tickets, but most of the unclaimed money is a result of winners not checking their tickets or realizing they have a winning ticket. To avoid becoming a statistic, keep your tickets in a safe place and take them to your local lottery scanner regularly.

5. Use the Singleton Method to win more scratch-offs. According to WikiHow, a quirk in the production of scratch-off tickets can double your chances of winning, if exploited correctly. The Singleton Method, in short, is an exercise in probability by finding sets of single numbers that only appear once on a scratch card, particularly in “match style” or” tic-tac-toe” games, in which you need three numbers in row to win. By studying this method, you can essentially eliminate those that don’t fall under the winning category of the Singleton Method, and increase your chances of winning 60 to 90 percent.

6. Use your math skills to increase your chances at powerball games. WikiHow also details how to increase your odds of winning Powerball games, but you’ll need to tap into your math skills (or at least a calculator) to make a go of it. Steps include finding the expected value of the game, determining the probability of each possible “win,” multiplying that probability by the payout for that win, buying tickets that increase the expected value, and looking for progressive jackpots. There’s also a mention of considering the tax implications of a Powerball win, which, incidentally, can be applied to all lottery wins above $10,000.

How Much Will Your Medicare Part B Premiums Cost in 2016?

Q. How much will I have to pay each month for Medicare Part B in 2016? Will there be a huge jump in premiums, as originally predicted?

A. Medicare beneficiaries who have Part B premiums withheld from their Social Security checks — about 70 percent of beneficiaries — will continue to pay $104.90 a month for Part B. If you aren’t collecting Social Security yet or will enroll in Medicare in 2016, you will have to pay $121.80 a month in 2016. The $121.80 monthly premium also applies to people who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid and have their premiums paid for by their state. And if your income exceeds certain limits, you’ll pay more — from $170.50 to $389.80 a month (see the table below).

The premiums aren’t as high as they were expected to be. Because Medicare Part B premiums are designed to cover 25 percent of total Part B costs each year, the monthly premium would have been $120.70 across the board in 2016 if everyone were on the hook for the increase, according to the Medicare trustees’ report. But most Medicare beneficiaries are protected by the “hold-harmless provision,” a law that prohibits Social Security benefits from being reduced because of an increase in Medicare premiums. In most years, Medicare cost increases are covered by the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment. But there will be no Social Security COLA for 2016 because of low inflation, which means that the monthly premiums will be capped at $104.90 for Medicare beneficiaries who have their premiums withheld from their Social Security benefits.

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Under the rules, the remaining 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries must cover the rest of the cost of Part B, which would have boosted their premiums to $159.30 a month in 2016. But under pressure from retiree advocacy groups, the budget deal signed by President Obama on Nov. 2 reduced the increase for 2016. Anyone not protected by the hold-harmless provision will have Part B premiums capped at $121.80 a month.

To help pay for the shortfall, a $3 surcharge, which is included in the $121.80 premium, will be added to monthly Part B premiums for the next few years. Those protected by the hold-harmless provision won’t pay the extra $3 this year, but $3 may be added to their premiums in 2017 if there is a Social Security COLA next year.

Single filers with modified adjusted gross income of more than $85,000, or more than $170,000 if married filing jointly, have been subject to a high-income surcharge since 2007. In 2016, these people will have to pay the $121.80 base amount plus a high-income surcharge of $48.70 to $268 a month, depending on their income. “Modified adjusted gross income” includes all taxable income, whether from a job, interest, dividends, capital gains or a pension, plus it adds in tax-exempt interest.

Your income is usually based on your last tax return on file, which would be your 2014 return, for 2016 premiums. But you may be able to get the high-income surcharge reduced or eliminated if your income has decreased since then because of certain life-changing events, such as the death of a spouse, divorce, retirement or reduced work hours. In that case, you can ask Social Security to use your more recent income instead. Contact the Social Security Administration, estimate your 2015 income, and provide evidence of the change, such as a marriage or death certificate, a signed statement of retirement from your employer, or pay stubs showing your reduced income. See Medicare Premiums: Rules for Higher-Income Beneficiaries for more information.

How Much You’ll Pay for Medicare Part B in 2016
Single Filer Income Joint Filer Income 2016 Monthly Premium
Up to $85,000 Up to $170,000 $121.80 or $104.90*
85,001 – $107,000 $170,001 – $214,000 $170.50
$107,001 – $160,000 $214,001 – $320,000 $243.60
$160,001 – $214,000 $320,001 – $428,000 $316.70
More than $214,000 More than $428,000 $389.90

* If protected by the hold-harmless provision

3 Simple, Awesome Recipes for Thanksgiving Leftovers

Everyone looks forward to Thanksgiving and all the trimmings. And then, by Saturday, everybody is sick of Thanksgiving and all the trimmings. Gag me with a turkey sandwich, right?

The key to leftovers is making them feel like a different meal with a new texture and flavor profile for each.

Give leftover stuffing a crunchy panko crust — inside these yummy croquettes is a tender piece of turkey! Turn butter into a whole new condiment by adding a few spoonfuls of leftover cranberry sauce. And transform those mashed potatoes into potato pancakes.

Here is everything you need to know. Be sure to refer to the video to watch each one being made. None takes more than a few minutes.

Turkey Croquettes

Ingredients

  • Bite size pieces of turkey
  • Stuffing (If it’s dry, add some melted butter to it.)
  • Canola oil
  • Flour for dredging
  • 3 eggs whisked for egg wash
  • Panko
  • Leftover gravy

Directions

  • Heat canola oil — about 2 inches in depth — in a wide rimmed skillet or Dutch oven using medium-high heat.
  • Roll stuffing into golf-ball sized orbs.
  • Press a bite-sized piece of turkey into the middle of each stuffing ball.
  • Dredge balls in flour, then egg wash, then panko.
  • Put croquettes in the hot oil and brown on all sides.
  • Drain on paper towels.
  • Serve with hot gravy.

Cheesy, Savory Potato Pancakes Ingredients

  • 3 cups leftover mashed potatoes
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • Handful of chives or scallions
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • Sour cream for garnish

Directions

  • Fold egg, cheese and chives into the leftover mashed potatoes and mix to combine evenly.
  • Heat canola oil and butter in a skillet.
  • Form potato and cheese mixture into pancakes.
  • Put into the hot skillet and fry until browned on both sides.
  • Serve with sour cream.

Cranberry Butter Ingredients

  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons of leftover cranberry sauce

Directions

  • Whip cranberry sauce into butter until smooth.

Why Millennials, Gen-Xers Should Worry About Estate Planning

Failing to plan wisely for your own death or disability can create serious consequences for your loved ones.

If you don’t have a valid will in place, the state will decide how your possessions and assets are distributed. That could tie up your estate in a complicated process that leaves less in the end for your survivors. Or, if you are rendered mentally disabled, who will be responsible for your care? If you go into a coma, who would pay for your medical care? All these decisions will dictated by the court if you don’t plan in advance. By failing to create a will, you are leaving the fate and financial security of your family at the mercy of strangers.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that estate planning is only for the elderly and the rich. Nobody likes to think about the prospect of being old, disabled, incapacitated, or about dying, especially when you’re still young and healthy. But this is actually the right time to pause and think about your finances, your possessions and your family. Regardless of your age or financial status, It is important to have an estate plan if you wish to protect your family against every adversity even when you aren’t around. Don’t make your busy schedule an excuse and put off the plan until you’re richer or older, because this can create unintended consequences for your family.
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The biggest mistake millennials make is that they associate estate planning with the elderly and the affluent. They feel that they have enough time to plan such serious stuff. Millennials rarely know what an estate plan is and why it is necessary for families with children. This is why young professionals often don’t have their financial affairs in order. An estate plan protects your spouse and children from financial difficulties and provides you with complete peace of mind. It plays a crucial role in deciding how your assets are distributed upon your death. It allows you to decide who will receive your property and financial assets if you die an unnatural death. If you think singles can escape the hassle of estate planning, you are mistaken! Everybody has assets and belongings that should be designated in advance.

Drafting the will is important, but it’s only half the battle. It is definitely a good start but not enough to safeguard your family. If you don’t want to subject your family to potentially drawn-out probate court proceedings, you need to plan your estate. Probate can be financially draining and mentally taxing for your family. Once you have a will, you need to have it reviewed every year by a legal professional to ensure that it complies with the changing life situations and ever-evolving laws. Set up a consultation with an experienced and certified financial adviser and know what’s best for you.

People typically start planning with their first child, but the right time to start is as soon as you start earning. If you are single, you need to protect your earnings. If you are married, the financial security of your spouse is your responsibility. If you have children, you need to create an estate plan to protect their future in case you die an unexpected death. The rules governing inheritance are strict, and if you don’t take them seriously, you could be inviting some serious trouble for your surviving family members.

Now that you’re convinced that estate planning is essential for every age, the next rational move you should be making is to schedule a consultation with a certified and credible financial planning professional or a lawyer who specializes in estate planning and probate, such as Blossom Wealth Management. (The author is the co-founder of this firm; it’s one of many that can help.) Downloading a standard format from a legal site and drafting your own will will probably leave you with a document that doesn’t fully address the complexity of your own situation. Laws vary by state and only an experienced lawyer can recommend the right course of action.

Estate planning will ensure that your assets are inherited by your family and not handled by the court in the event of your death. Make an estate plan today and save your family from the costly and time-consuming court procedures, and give them the gift of a secure future.

Why You Need Financial Cheat Days

When we think of “cheat days,” we tend to think of a sweet treat or indulgent meal that breaks a cycle of strict dieting. A cheat day is meant to satisfy cravings, and it’s a great way to incorporate foods you normally wouldn’t include in your diet without ruining your metabolism. Similarly, a financial cheat day can help you budget better and prevent an overindulgent, perhaps impulsive, shopping spree.

There are plenty of financial resolutions that can help fatten your wallet this year. You can check your credit card history, increase your savings or adjust your lifestyle to live well below your means. The Internet and mobile apps make it easy to monitor spending, and even blogs like this one provide helpful tips on how to maximize your savings. But sticking to a strict money diet can be mentally exhausting, and even the most diligent saver can suffer the occasional slip up here and there.

The discipline and patience needed to stick to your financial resolutions can be taxing, just like how following a strict diet can drive you crazy. Just like a cheat day when you diet, allowing yourself the occasional financial celebration can help you feel indulgent without going overboard. “Overspending and not showing cash available to support your debts can make it hard to get home mortgage financing or get a commercial or business loan,” says Brad Hettich, founder of the finance and loan company Commercial Lending X. “But that does not mean you have to reserve all of your cash. I usually tell my clients they can still make a purchase here and there, but the key is not to overindulge every month but just occasionally, making it so most months they continue to build up their cash reserves.”

Culprits of Overspending and Indulging

It’s difficult to live a frugal lifestyle when we’re surrounded by messages telling us to buy, buy, buy. We’re pressured by our peers to spend money in order to keep up with our social lives; fashion trends encourage us to always be on the hunt for the latest styles so we can fit in with our friends. Shopping is a sport that requires time and mental energy. Last year, the National Association for Professional Organizers found that 54 percent of Americans feel overwhelmed by all the stuff they have, and 78 percent don’t even want to deal with it. This habit of overspending has led to roughly $712 billion in credit debt owed by U.S. consumers, according to a NerdWallet analysis, and is why many financial advisors recommend planning and sticking to a monthly budget.

Triggers such as stress or a bad day at work can also lead to trigger-happy spending habits that may leave you with buyer’s remorse the next day. Extreme emotions like depression or sadness can encourage people to shop or make purchases as an easy way to cure their emotional state. Have you ever gone out and impulsively ordered something from Amazon when you were upset? Or how about dropping Benjamin’s at a club to celebrate a bonus you received at work? Instead of waiting for a moment of overindulgence though, make it a point to reward yourself every now and then for your hard work. Small, semi-regular treats are a welcomed break from your regulated money diet and can provide an additional incentive to help you stay on track with your financial milestones.

Moderation Is the Name of the Game

A financial treat doesn’t have to be a large purchase; it could be something as simple as buying a grande mocha from Starbucks or buying lunch instead of bringing leftovers to work. Or a financial indulgence can be an investment toward a more expensive reward, like a piece of clothing or a new bag. Giving yourself a specific reward or goal to work toward can help you to avoid temptation and keep you from spending your paycheck on a single item. It also helps to keep some sort of schedule in order to keep track of your financial rewards. Consider creating a calendar with an end goal so you can always keep your eye on the prize. For example, mark in your planner when you want to treat yourself with a trip to your favorite coffee shop.

It’s important to remember that financial cheat day’s only work when they’re incorporated into your regular saving habits. If you find you’re overspending monthly, try holding on to your pay stubs and calculating how much you spend in one week. Consider switching to cash and leaving your debit and credit cards at home to avoid spending on a whim. Sometimes all it takes is bringing your lunch to work everyday to help you reach your financial goals and free up cash so you can reward yourself.

5 Tips for Better Spending Habits

While 2016 is in full swing, if you haven’t thought about a resolution yet, don’t give up. Maybe it’s time to make one that has the potential to stick. If you’re often wondering how money slips out of your wallet, consider becoming the crash test dummy for better spending habits. Test drive some of these ideas below to develop better ones.

Be your own cheerleader.

Patting yourself on the back after following through on a behavior you want to increase goes a long way to help cement a behavior. Ginger Dean, psychotherapist and website owner of GirlsJustWannaHaveFunds.com explains the power of rewards: “When making smart money choices, celebrate them by rewarding yourself. Yes, make rewarding yourself a habit. For example, when you make it through a pay period and adhere to your spending plan, treat yourself to something nice that doesn’t break the bank.” She points out that this creates what we call positive reinforcement, which helps you connect good decisions with positive rewards.

According to research by Wendy Wood, a social psychologist and provost professor of psychology and business at the University of Southern California, a behavior only has to be rewarded initially to form a habit. So once the habit is established, you can relax and let momentum take over.

Cheat a little.

While it’s great to start the New Year off with a new idea, give yourself a lead and start with a familiar task. Repeat the task on a regular basis. Research shows you won’t have to train yourself to do the task, you just train yourself to do it repeatedly. For example, if you like drinking water when you eat at a restaurant, choose to do it more frequently. Set rules for yourself, like, “When I eat out, I will order water.” Before you know it, a small gesture will become a string of little actions that can have a big impact on how you spend. It can also do double duty for your bank account if you send the money you didn’t spend straight to savings. Once you establish one good habit, move on to another like trimming a little bit of your grocery budget every time you shop. Start with as little as five dollars and put that in savings, as well.

Keep using the Benjamins.

Let your dollars see the light of day and allow the real thing to get some exercise. Fans of carrying cash can do this more so in the New Year if it helps you control your spending. If you know you tend to do major dollar damage in just one swipe of a credit card, then this tip might work for you. Curtail the urge to go on a spending free-for-all when using a credit card as a short term loan and pay in cash whenever possible. Make using cash a habit if you find it keeps you on track. Choose a dollar amount to withdraw on a regular basis and challenge yourself to not to go beyond that amount.

Graduate from a spending spree.

Limit how much time you spend in a store. Research shows the slower you shop, the more you spend. Get what you need and go. Set a timer if you have to or have your eyes stay glued to your shopping list, then pay and skedaddle. This way you can avoid impulse buys and filling every nook and cranny of your shopping cart with items you didn’t plan to get. Side step a budget-busting aftermath and make it a habit to make short trips to stick with your spending plan.

Do a happy dance after checking out.

When you have carried out a small, smart money choice like spending less time in the store, celebrate it. As stated above, positive reinforcement can work wonders for habit formation. So if you accomplished all of your shopping in record time, celebrate your small win afterwards. So when you’re looking to applaud yourself for getting out of the store quickly, think of what Han Solo said in The Force Awakens when Finn and Rey reunited: “Escape now, hug later.”

If you originally couldn’t bear the thought of making a resolution, reconsider. Just know that people tend to stay with activities that are manageable. Consider following some of the ideas above to take a step in the right direction when it comes to spending this year. They can be beacons for long-term financial change and help you meet your goals. They can also help you shortcut your way to success by following research that gets results. Employ one of these tips to establish a money smart habit today.

9 Ways Your Phone Can Slash Grocery Costs

Food is among the most expensive costs in the average American family’s budget. And we don’t make it any easier on ourselves by dining out so often in restaurants.

In fact, the average U.S. consumer spends nearly one-third of his or her food dollars in restaurants, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

By cutting back on dining out, and enjoying the occasional home-cooked meal — you remember those, right? — you can save a lot of money.

Following are nine great websites and apps that can help you save at the grocery store, or that suggest ways to stretch your ingredients further.

Cash-back and coupon websites and apps

1. iBotta: This app is a frugal favorite, and it’s no wonder why: The app pays you cash back for groceries you need to purchase anyway.

Here is how it works: First, download the iBotta app. Then, look for deals on popular products. Once you find a deal you like, qualify for the offer by performing a simple activity, such as watching a video or filling out a survey.

Then, go to an eligible store — including Walmart, Target and many major grocery chains and drugstores — and purchase the item. After you have done so, take a picture of the receipt and you will be credited.

Once you have earned at least $5, you can ask iBotta to put cash in your PayPal account. This app takes couponing to the next level!

2. Checkout 51. Similar to iBotta, this app/website presents grocery cash-back offers — updated every Thursday — that you can redeem for cash back after purchasing the item and uploading your receipt.
However, unlike iBotta, you can shop at any store to redeem the offer. And you do not have to fill out surveys, watch videos or perform any other action.

Two things to keep in mind, though: The offers usually are available in limited quantities. So make sure to both purchase the item and upload the receipt promptly. Also, you must earn at least $20 in offers before you can redeem for cash.

3. Walmart Savings Catcher. Walmart is the retail giant that prides itself on its “unbeatable prices.” With the Walmart Savings Catcher app, shoppers scan their Walmart receipt barcode and wait while the app quickly compares advertised prices at top competitors. If the items are available for less elsewhere, you get a refund in the form of an e-gift card.

4. Ebates. Another very popular site and phone app with frugal shoppers, Ebates lets you get up to 25 percent cash back from more than 1,500 retailers. Foodies can save if they buy anything from retailers in the Ebates Food & Restaurants category.

We recently told you how to get a free $10 Walmart gift card simply by signing up at Ebates. If you haven’t done so, now is the time!

5. Coupons.com. Attention bargain hunters: Coupons.com offers free printable coupons for a wide range of grocery items, ranging from coffee to fresh chicken breasts and everything in between.

Simply install the site’s coupon printer on your device, browse the extensive coupon gallery, select and “clip” the coupons you want, and print and redeem. Does it get any simpler?
You can also install the the Coupons.com app for on-the-go savings.

Apps that make grocery shopping easier

6. Out of Milk. It has happened to all of us at some point: You buy a carton of milk only to discover that your spouse picked one up, too. The Out of Milk app helps you avoid this frustrating mistake by allowing you to create and categorize grocery lists and share them with others in your household.
That way, you are less likely to “double buy” and waste your hard-earned cash.

7. Grocery Pal. Wondering where all the sales are in your area? The Grocery Pal app notifies penny-pinching shoppers of weekly savings and sales at many leading supermarkets, retailers and pharmacies. Shoppers can even redeem digital coupons with the app.

Find the best price on everything you buy on our deals page!

Meal-planning websites

8. Supercook. “Dinner’s met its match” is the slogan at Supercook, which helps you create meals out of whatever ingredients happen to be lying around your house.

Just input the ingredients in your fridge, and this clever culinary site suggests a meal. Supercook actually scans all the top cooking websites to find delicious recipes based on your available ingredients. You can even add cuisine preferences, dietary restrictions and meal types to customize your results.

And yes, folks, an app is in the works! Sign up to be alerted when it is ready.

9. $5 Dinners. Is your grocery budget spiraling out of control? If so, $5 Dinners is a smart site that may offer the frugal help you’ve been seeking. This site provides a wide selection of recipes for your family, all for under $5. And don’t let the name fool you — $5 Dinners provides suggestions for breakfasts, lunches, snacks and desserts, too.

Do you have a favorite website or app that helps you cut the cost of groceries and meals? Share it in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.

A Guide to Negotiating a Better Interest Rate on Your Credit Cards

When you carry a balance on a typical credit card, the credit card company is simply extracting money from your wallet. If you carry a $2,500 balance for a year on a typical 20 percent APR card, that means you’re giving the credit card company $500 of your hard-earned cash just to keep that $2,500 balance. That’s $500 that just blows away in the wind. The higher the balance, the worse it is – and the higher the APR, the worse it is, too.

One of the best money-saving strategies is to simply reduce that interest rate. If you knock an interest rate down from 20 percent to 10 percent, you save $250 a year in the example above. That’s a lot of money.

The first step is easy: Just call the number on the back of your card. But you might need some help once you’re actually on the phone. Here are some tips for negotiating a better rate on your credit card.

Make sure you have a position to negotiate from. Have you been a customer of this company for years? Do you pay your bills? Do you also maintain a balance on this card? Could you financially survive if this credit card were to be closed out? Do you have better interest rate offers on the table?

If you’re answering “yes” to those questions, then you’re in good shape to negotiate a better interest rate. If not, you don’t have much leverage to negotiate.

Credit card companies want to keep customers who consistently pay their bills (a few days late on occasion is fine, but skipping months isn’t), but also maintain a balance on their card. Those are the ideal customers. Is that you? If not, then the credit card companies won’t do much to keep you around, as you’re not worth much to them as a customer.

Similarly, you need to be in a position where you could survive without this card. Do you need this card to make ends meet each month? One potential outcome of this type of negotiation is that you end up closing your account – or the credit card company ends up closing it.

Be polite, always. No matter what happens during the phone call, refrain from getting angry. Don’t raise your voice. Don’t ever skip over polite phrases in your speech. Don’t start calling the person on the phone names.

The second you resort to these tactics, your chances of getting a better interest rate drop to zero. The person on the other end will stop cooperating with you and you’ll be left with your current rate.
If you’re frustrated, simply say, “Thank you for your time!” and end the call, then vent your anger once you’re off the phone.

Make sure the representative actually has the power to lower your interest rate. When you start speaking with a customer service representative, you should first make sure that the person you’re talking to actually has the ability to lower your interest rate.

As always, be polite. Try saying something like this: “I have been a good customer, and I’d like to keep doing business with you. However, my interest rate seems high, and I’d like to talk with someone about that. Do you have the authority to change my interest rate?”

If they answer yes, then keep talking. If not, politely ask if you can be transferred to someone who does have that power. Say something like: “In that case, could I please speak to a supervisor who does have that authority?”

Use other offers for leverage. If you’ve done your homework, you should have a credit card offer with a lower interest rate than the card you’re negotiating. Even better, you may already have another card with a lower interest rate. Use that as leverage when negotiating on this card.

Say something to the effect of this: “This card currently has a 19.9 percent APR. However, my other card, a Visa issued by Citigroup, has a 13.9 percent APR. I would prefer to use your card rather than the Citigroup card if they had the same interest rate.”

Offer to transfer a balance. Another tool you have in your arsenal is the suggestion of transferring a balance to the card you’re negotiating. If you’re successful in getting a lower rate than the card you would be transferring from, this will save you money and entice the company to lower your rate.

Say something to the effect of this: “I currently carry a balance on my Citigroup Visa. If you were willing to lower the interest rate below the rate on that card, I would transfer my balance to your card.”

Be willing to play hardball. If they won’t help you at all, don’t hesitate to close the card. There’s no reason continuing to do business with a company that does not appreciate you.

If your attempts are denied, try saying something to the effect of this: “In that case, I would like to close my account with you and pay off my balance.” If they don’t respond with a good offer, make sure that they send you written notification of the account closure.

Carrying a credit card balance puts a real strain on your finances. While paying the balances off is the best solution, negotiating a better interest rate is a powerful interim step that can keep money in your pocket – where it belongs.