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Study: Dishwashers save money

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A lot of people who have automatic dishwashers don’t use them, but they might save money on water and electricity if they did.

Even though 68 percent of Americans own dishwashers, about 20 percent use them less than once a week, suggesting people are hand washing dishes.

Many reasons could account for this, but one of them should not be cost. Dishwashing by hand uses 3.5 times more water than a modern dishwasher and three times as much electricity, according to a 2011 study by the University of Bonn.

Loading the dishwasher: What is the right way?

Dishwasher manufacturers and home style maven Martha Stewart agree on some basics for the right way to load a dishwasher:
1.  If the washer has a third, shallow rack on top, load flatware and large utensils there to free up space below.
2.  Put glass and plastic on the top rack where water pressure and heat are less intense.
3.  Point knives down for safety. Mix utensils in the basket so spoons and forks don’t nest together.
4.  Martha Stewart advises never to wash nonstick or cast iron pans in the dishwasher but stainless steel pans get cleaner in the dishwasher.
5.  Read the manual to find out about specialized settings. Nearly 70 percent of user just press ‘normal.’

Don’t put these items in the dishwasher

According to home expert Martha Stewart, the following items should never be put in the dishwasher: Acrylics and plastics, aluminum, antiques, blown glass, bronze, cast iron, china with metallic decoration, crystal, any item with bone or wood inlays, gold-plated flatware, iron, knives (they get dull), nonstick pans, milk glass, pewter, rubber tools, tins, wooden spoons.

Is pre-rinsing really necessary?

Doesn’t everyone pre-rinse dishes?

Maybe they do, but they don’t have to, according to soap and dishwasher manufacturers.
Except for removing large particles of food, pre-rinsing can actually hinder dishwasher cleaning, says the makers of Cascade. Enzymes in Cascade are designed to attach to food particles. Without particles, they have nothing to attach to, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Dishwashers made by Whirlpool have ‘TargetClean’ options in which sensors detect soil on dishes. Jet sprays focus on those casserole dishes and power off baked on food.

The Samsung Zone Booster setting puts more water pressure on one side where especially dirty dishes are stacked.

The great dishwasher fight

Appliance maker Bosch says more than 40 percent of families argue about the proper way to load a dishwasher.
About 60 percent agree about whether to pre-rinse. Nearly 39 percent of the arguers say they disagree on whether knives should point up or down, while 30 percent argue about where plastic containers should go.

General Electric Co. has defined three main types of dishwasher loaders:
– Protectors, who are concerned that utensils are loaded handle up so the eating end isn’t touched when unloading.
– Organizers want to get everything in and out as quickly as possible.
– Curators are the artists, particular about how the result looks, with similar items placed together, including directing pan handles in the same direction. The curators are also the culprits who rearrange the load.

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Can a financial adviser help you manage your budget?

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If you find yourself constantly struggling to pay off debt, save for the future or stay on budget, it may be time to schedule an appointment with a financial adviser.

Here are some situations where you should consider meeting with a financial adviser:

• You’re looking for help managing your debt and coming up with strategies for paying it off

• You’re getting your finances in order to plan for a major lifestyle change (buying your first home, having your first child, preparing for your retirement, etc.)

• You’d like help setting a budget that will help you save for specific goals (making a down-payment on a house, buying a new car, a trip to Europe, etc.)

• You want to learn about the right investment opportunities for a person in your financial situation.

Although it may seem impractical to pay someone to help you with your finances when you’re having money trouble, working with a professional can help get you on the right track towards meeting your long-term financial goals.

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Avoiding mortgage refinancing scam

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Scammers are targeting homeowners, trying to trick them out of cash and home equity, according to U.S. News.

‘Loan flipping’ scams seem to offer relief for those struggling with monthly mortgages. What actually happens is the scammer offers a fantastic deal on lower interest rates or mortgage payments.

The homeowner goes through the lengthy loan application process only to find the terms and fees are much higher than advertised.

Scammers get away with this because victims are either too fearful or exhausted by the process to end the deal.

Some schemes strip equity from homeowners who are in danger of foreclosure. ‘Mortgage rescuers’ focus on homeowners who have a lot of equity in the property, but now can’t make mortgage payments. They tell delinquent payers that they will pay off the mortgage if they sign over the deed and make rental payments. Unfortunately, the rental fees are likely to be just as high. The scammer waits until the person falls behind, evicts them, keeps the equity and sells the home or skips town.

Here are things to look for:

* Leaseback schemes. The scammer is going to own your home and you will rent from him. Always crooked.

* Bad credit doesn’t matter. Credit always matters. If someone tells you otherwise, be suspicious.

* Upfront fees. These criminals review public records of people in default on their mortgages. For a big fee, they offer to help homeowners refinance, usually through a government program, but they actually do nothing. In the end, the house is foreclosed, the homeowner loses everything, and the helper pockets the fees.

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Snow Day essentials

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Kids usually jump for joy when a snow day is announced, but for parents, the news tends to be somewhat less exciting. Here are a few things to have on hand should you end up staying home with your children during a snowstorm.

• The right outdoor clothes: snow days are best spent outdoors, but your kids need to have all the right clothes so they won’t get too cold or too wet. Check that everyone in your household has winter jackets, snow pants and insulated, waterproof boots. Make sure to keep extra gloves, scarves and hats on hand; these items of clothing often end up disappearing while kids are off sledding and making snow forts.

• Warm beverages: classic snow-day drinks like hot chocolate, peppermint tea or spiced apple cider will warm everyone up after a day out in the cold. On days when the weather’s too bad to go outside, hot beverages will help create a cozy atmosphere at home.

• Arts and crafts supplies: art projects can be a great way to keep kids occupied on days when it’s too cold or snowy to play outdoors. Keep supplies like crayons, markers, paints and paper around so you can pull them out before anyone starts to complain about being bored.

• Board games: board games are a classic way to spend snow days as a family. Getting children involved in a heated game of Monopoly, Risk or Chutes and Ladders will make the time pass quickly for all of you.

With these ideas in mind, you’ll be able to keep your kids entertained for hours on end, even during the snowiest of snow days.

Did you know?
The largest recorded snowfall in American history occurred in Sliver Lake, Colorado, on April 14, 1921. How much snow did the area near Boulder get? A whopping 75.8 inches — within just 24 hours!

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Side hustles and the gig economy

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In today’s gig economy, it’s becoming more common to have a “side hustle” — a flexible second job that’s done in addition to a full-time position to generate extra income.

The emergence of gig-based companies like Airbnb, Uber and Etsy has made it easier than ever for people to have a side hustle. Some popular side gigs include renting out apartments, driving for rideshare companies and selling handmade products online. Additionally, freelance writing, editing and designing for the web are prevalent types of side hustles.

While side hustles are often associated with making a hobby into a source of income, most people turn to them because they need the extra cash. Many people working side hustles are millennials struggling to find well-paying jobs and pay off student loans. However, studies also show that older Americans are starting to use side hustles to boost their retirement savings.

If you’re thinking about taking on a side hustle, be sure to choose something you enjoy doing. This way your motivation to work during your free time will be high. In most cases, however, you shouldn’t depend on what you earn from your side hustle. The availability of freelance work tends to fluctuate, making it a source of income that’s unreliable.

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How to safely walk your dog during the winter

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During the colder season, it’s important to take a few precautions when bringing your dog out for a walk. Read on to find out how to make your snowy strolls enjoyable and safe for your pup.

Each dog deals with the cold differently. Depending on your dog’s breed, age and health condition, your trusted companion could be extra-sensitive to cold temperatures. Never push your dog beyond its limits when it comes to weather sensitivity.

Before venturing outdoors, protect your dog’s paws from the salt used on city streets and sidewalks. Invest in tiny boots specially designed for dogs. If your pup refuses to keep them on, avoid walking in areas with too much salt on the ground. Furthermore, consider dressing your furry friend in a warm coat to help preserve its body heat. Some pet-sized snowsuits will even cover your dog’s paws.

In periods of extreme cold weather, prefer frequent short walks to ensure that your four-legged friend gets enough exercise.

Finally, if you notice that your dog’s fur is wet after a stroll outdoors, make sure to dry it thoroughly with a towel or blow dryer. Focus on the paws, belly and ears, and take the opportunity to inspect the pads under Fido’s feet for any signs of injury.

Beware of snow!
Try to stop your dog from eating snow as much as possible. Even if it looks clean, it doesn’t mean it’s safe. Eating snow can cause gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and vomiting.

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Use your checking account wisely? Your credit score could now go up

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User:Pne [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

This year, people who wisely manage their checking accounts could see an increase in their credit scores.

The new UltraFICO credit score will let some consumers offer their banking activity as proof that they are credit worthy.

A credit score has never been based on income. A person who makes $20,000 per year — and pays loans faithfully — could have a higher credit score than a person making $200,000, who doesn’t pay loans on time. The credit score tries to predict if a person will pay back a loan and pay it back on time.

Some people, especially younger people, may not have much of a history of loan payments. Those people pay for things mainly in cash, and through their checking accounts and debit cards, which aren’t counted toward a credit score. If they do apply for a loan, their lack of credit history could put them in the subprime category, scores below 670. They might be denied credit.

With the UltraFICO scoring system, a lender can offer to recalculate a consumer’s score based on banking activity. People who have had a checking account for some time, maintain a balance of about $400, and don’t overdraw are likely to see their score rise, possibly high enough to get a loan and therefore build credit history.

One caution: those who do overdraw their accounts could see their scores go down in an UltraFICO calculation.

Since the subprime mortgage crisis, banks have been focused on only the most creditworthy borrowers. In 2018, a record 58.2 percent of U.S. consumers held a score between 700 and 850, the
FICO maximum. These high-score consumers aren’t taking out as many loans these days and lenders have been eager to find responsible borrowers.

Fair Isaac Corporation, the creator of the widely used FICO score, estimates 7 million people with thin credit histories could benefit from an UltraFICO recalculation. Another 26 million people could see an increase, and 4 million could see their score increase 20 points.

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