Amazon Prime Price Increase

We’ve known this was coming for a while, but now it’s official:

After nine years, Amazon is increasing its Amazon Prime membership fee from $79 to $99. Additionally, the cost of an Amazon Student membership will increase from $39 to $49 per year.

While a $20 increase may seem a bit jarring, Amazon Prime is still relatively inexpensive when you look at it on a monthly basis. A streaming plan on Netflix or Hulu Plus costs $7.99 per month. Meanwhile, Amazon Prime (which includes both streaming and free 2-day shipping) will cost $8.25 per month after the rate hike.

On the other hand, if you don’t actually use your Amazon Prime account on a regular basis, this may be a good time to re-evaluate whether or not you want to renew the service.

How do you feel about the price increase? Do you think Amazon Prime is still worth it?

How to Budget for a New Baby

Guest post by Naomi Shaw.

There is nothing sweeter than hearing the pitter-patter of little feet running across your floor and hearing the words “I love you” uttered from a tiny little being that you created.

If having children is something that you have always dreamed of, you are in store for a real treat. However, you should be aware that there is a lot of financial obligation that comes along with having a family. Children need a lot of things, and the cost of all of those things can really add up.

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Navigating Unemployment

It’s official: After five months of searching, my husband is officially back to work! The best part? He’s earning significantly more than he was at his previous job. Woot!

For those who are curious, here are some things that helped us stay afloat over the past few months:

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14 Tips for Paying Down Debt

As of 2013, it is estimated that the average college-educated millennial carries approximately $29,000 in student loan debt and another $2,700 in credit card debt.

Add in our relative lack of experience, mismatched skill sets, and the fact that there simply aren’t enough well-paying jobs to go around in today’s economy… and it’s easy to see why so many 20-somethings are struggling to become financially independent after graduation.

Despite these early challenges, it is possible to break free of debt and start your journey into the land of positive net worth. Here are 14 tips for paying down your debt in 2014:

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5 Ways to Earn Money Online

When money gets tight, we are generally faced with two options: earn more or spend less.

A lot of the content on this blog focuses on ways to spend less money – or, at the very least, get the best value from the things you do buy. However, there is a limit to this approach. In other words, there are only so many things you can cut from your budget before you start feeling really miserable.

Once you’ve trimmed the fat from your budget, it’s time to start looking at ways to increase your income. You have much more control over this than you probably think. Even if you don’t have the time, energy, or means of transportation to pick up a traditional part-time job on top of your existing workload, there are more flexible options. You just have to be a little creative.

Here are five ways to earn income online from the comfort and convenience of your home:

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Eliminating Redundant Expenses

Are you looking to cut back on expenses in the new year? If so, there is an easy way to save money without having to compromise your quality of living.

If you examine your budget carefully, you might discover that you’re spending quite a bit of extra money on redundant (duplicate) expenses. In other words, are you paying more than one company for the same product or service? If so, it’s time to choose one or the other.

Here are a few common redundant expenses to look for – and how to get rid of them:

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Things to Consider Before Having Kids

According to a recent Gallup poll, 58% of Americans believe that the “ideal age” for a woman to have her first child is 25 or younger. And medical experts generally agree, citing your late teens and early twenties as the age at which you are most likely to conceive a healthy child.

If you’re like me, on the upper end of the 20-something age bracket yet still childless, these statistics might seem a bit alarming. Even more so if you’re still attending college and/or living with your parents.

But before you throw your birth control out the window and start trying to have a baby before it’s “too late,” be sure to consider the following:

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9 Ways to Reduce Your Heating Costs

We’re getting close to the end of October, and it’s official – my husband and I already caved and turned on the heat. To be fair though, we’ve had temperatures in the 30s and 40s (as well as the threat of snow) which is somewhat unusual this early in the season.

Of course, the minute I set the temperature on our downstairs thermostat, I started thinking about how we can be more efficient in our heat usage this year.

While heating costs fluctuate depending on the weather and the part of the country in which you live, the US Energy Information Administration predicts that the average American household will spend approximately $679 on natural gas or $909 on electric heat this winter. Meanwhile, those with oil heat will spend over $2,000 heating their homes this winter. (Yikes!)

Want to reduce your heating expenses this winter? Here are a few ideas:

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15-Year vs. 30-Year Mortgages

In her book, Frugal Isn’t Cheap, Clare K. Levison wrote the following about mortgages:

The problem with a 30-year mortgage is that you pay and pay and pay, and never get anywhere. [...] If you haven’t made your purchase yet, only consider homes that you can comfortably make a 15-year mortgage payment on. If you’ve already purchased a home, start reworking your budget so that you can refinance for 15 years. A 30-year mortgage is just a smoke screen to convince people to buy houses they can’t afford and finance them for longer than they should.

This is one of those points that I sort of agree with, but sort of don’t. In theory, yes, shorter terms are always better when it comes to debt. However, my husband and I have a 30-year mortgage on our house and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Before I explain why we chose a 30-year mortgage, let me start by highlighting a few benefits of each option.

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Book Review: “Frugal Isn’t Cheap”

I was recently asked to read and review Frugal Isn’t Cheap: Spend Less, Save More, and Live Better by Clare K. Levison, CPA.

Based on the title, I expected this book to focus primarily on ways in which you can be frugal without being cheap. For example: investing in high-quality clothing that will last significantly longer than a $5 shirt from Walmart, learning to cook quality meals at home, using coupons when dining out, planning purchases around sales or seasonal events, buying a reliable and efficient car, etc.

While the author did discuss several of these ideas, I felt like the book strayed a bit from its original theme after the first few chapters. Beyond that point, it was pretty much your standard beginner’s guide to money management which covered the basics of budgeting, saving, investment, paying off debt, buying your first home, increasing income, etc.

For the most part, the author offered solid financial advice for readers of all ages and financial backgrounds. I especially appreciated her points about valuing your time, carefully weighing your options when making a purchase, and avoiding societal pressure to overspend. The book just wasn’t what I expected.

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