4 ways to save on Halloween costumes, candy and more

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Americans are going to spend $9 billion on Halloween this year, according to a new survey. Elizabeth Keatinge (@elizkeatinge) has more.
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Americans are spending a frightening amount of money on Halloween. The National Retail Federation estimates consumers will spend a record $9.1 billion this year, up 8.3% from 2016 when the number was $8.4 billion. That breaks down to an investment of $86.13 per person. But these hair-raising statistics don’t have to be so scary. Here are the things Americans are splurging on during Halloween — and ways you can celebrate on a budget. 

 

1. Costumes

Tis the season for costly costumes. Americans are expected to shell out around $3.4 billion on Halloween attire. Men, on average, spend more than women. ($96 vs. $77.) But before you pull a Wednesday Addams and dress like everyone else, here are a few tips for frugal shoppers. Pop-up shops and Halloween-themed stores are fun and convenient, they can also be pricey. Instead, consumers should try discount retailers like T.J. Maxx, Nordstrom Rack or Party City. Not only do these stores offer huge savings, but shoppers can also find one-of-a-kind items. Thrift stores, like national chains Goodwill and The Salvation Army or your local vintage shops, also have reduced merchandise. Sometimes shoppers can even score near-new costumes. “People don’t usually re-wear costumes,” says Andrea Woroch, a money-saving expert. “Since they were only worn one time, they’re usually in good condition.”

If you’re shopping online, browse Pinterest and Instagram for ideas, then compare websites to find discounts. “There are so many Halloween retailers out there,” Woroch says. “Google the retailers name and ‘coupon code’ to see who has the best deal.” The point, she says, is to avoid paying full price when you don’t have to. Some sites to check out are Buycostumes.com, Halloweencostumes.com SpiritHalloween.com. Many have free shipping. Jet.com offers cash back on purchases, and right now first-time customers get an additional 15% off with a promo-code.

More: Halloween sales of candy and costumes expected to break a record

More: 5 Halloween myths and urban legends, debunked

More: Snickers, candy corn: What’s the top-selling Halloween candy in your state?

Apps like Poshmark and Mercari are also money saving tricks. They’re free and let you buy and sell clothes that no one else has. Or, raid your bestie’s closet to see what could fit into your costume. “If you use what you have around your house and then you only spend $5 or $10 on one item, then you really save,” Woroch says.

And, if you’re flexible about your costume, wait until a few days before Halloween or even the morning of to buy. Merchants often have even bigger sales then because they want to sell everything in stock. 

2. Candy

Halloween hits the sweet spot: The NRF anticipates Halloween candy sales will hit $2.7 billion this year. There are plenty of affordable ways to satisfy your sweet tooth. Shoppers should buy in bulk. Stores like Costco, Target, Sam’s Club and Walmart have supersize bags of candy. Many of these stores let you double up on savings with coupons. And, just like costumes, wait until Halloween morning when candy goes on sale at most stores. 

3. Decorations

Just like candy, Americans are expected to purchase $2.7 billion worth of Halloween décor this year. Thrift stores and yard sales  can offer major savings on this front though.

Lori Maloney, a stay-at-home mom in Kearneysville, W.Va., found Halloween decorations at a yard sale near her home. “I probably paid 10% of the retail value,” she says of her July shopping spree. “At the time I thought it was a bit silly to buy them, but I’m glad I did.”  

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President Trump’s ‘fake news’ slogan is becoming a spooky trend for Halloween.
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Halloween costumes and candy are not the only things to think about buying in October. We’ve put together a guide of everything you should buy in October.
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4. Greeting cards

The art of writing correspondence is not dead. Consumers will likely spend around $400 million on Halloween cards this year. A great way to save is by making your own. Dollar stores, like Family Dollar and Dollar Tree, are all over the U.S. and have low-cost supplies. Even better: dollar stores sell cards too.

10 ways to save up for your Destin vacation

We’ve all had travel envy at one point or another. You know the drill, your friends post beautiful photos on social media of the crystal clear beach, or their cocktails by the pool, and you just think, “Not fair! How are they able to vacation and I’m not? What do they know that I don’t?”

Without pulling out the credit cards, and spending away your life savings (or lack thereof), we here at Destin.com have rustled up some ideas to help you get the vacation you deserve. We want to help get you here!

Although this list may not guarantee your bank will fit the bill — pun intended — here are a few rules of thumb that may just help you save up for your next (or first) vacation trip to Destin.

1. Eat out sparingly — This one takes a bit of self-control, but totally pays off in the end. Try eating out only once a week, or even less if you can. The extra money you will save can be stashed away for treating yourself to meals out while you are visiting our piece of paradise. Of course, this advice continues when you are actually on vacation; if you plan accordingly, you can score free breakfast at your hotel, pick up a picnic at a local grocer for lunch, and plan on only one meal out per day to save on extravagant meal costs. Most condos in Destin come with a full kitchen, so preparing your meals in-house is easier than you think!

2. Wine not — As in, do not purchase as much wine and alcohol. Let’s face it, alcohol is expensive, so if you want to save a buck, purchase fewer adult beverages, or consider limiting your consumption to a bottle or two of wine a week. This is a win-win as your calorie intake will also be on the healthier side!

3. Live local — While it seems that so many of your friends like to go on lavish trips, consider a closer-to-home choice that is within driving distance. When you need a break, consider a long weekend trip within a 6- to 12-hour drive from your home. Destin is actually within a day’s drive from many southern and midwestern states; take a look at Google Maps and plan your next “local” getaway. There are even a few airlines that offer reasonable rates to and from Destin — check to see if your hometown is on the list!

4. Try non-traditional housing — The best way to save up for a hotel is to not even have to pay for one! No really, consider trying a non-traditional route of staying with friends, family or an Airbnb, or VRBO. Airbnb options span from renting someone’s couch or bedroom to renting an entire house, depending on where you look. Often these type stays are cheaper and offer more room for your money. Happy hunting!

5. Cut out excess — There are a few first-world luxuries that can be lived without, and likewise can help save money. For example, a costly cable contract can be switched out for a monthly subscription to Netflix, Hulu or even a cell plan with an added TV option. These choices end up being cheaper, and as a bonus, can travel with you on your laptop or cellphone while you are on vacation! Other money-saving excess items could include cutting out magazine subscriptions, nail appointments, or even internet if you have access during the day.

6. Side-Hustle — Gone are the childhood days where a pop-up lemonade stand or lawn-mowing business can gain you an extra couple bucks, but there are still ways to make some money as a side job if you have a creative idea. For example, if you have craft skills, consider opening an Etsy shop online to sell what you make. If you have a deep closet, consider selling your extra clothes to consignment shops. Other ideas could include stock photography, cake baking or even being a referee for little league soccer games.

7. Travel Savvy — Did you know there are ways to save money while you spend money? Say what?! Yes, you read that correctly, there are deals to be found from booking your vacation activities to choosing a travel method. Besides your normal Groupon route, there are new phone and tablet apps that can help save and even earn money towards travel. (Check out www.wanderlustrewards.com, for example.) Other ideas are to check local travel sites for seasonal deals. For instance, many summer tourism hotspots offer discounts in the fall and winter and vice versa. If airfare is your main mode of travel, many airlines offer credit cards that can earn you points for qualifying flights and purchases.

8. Split the tab — Do you have close friends or family members that would love to accompany you on your getaway? Consider inviting them along for the trip, because shared expenses mean costs are lower for everyone!

9. Keep the change — This is a tried but true way to save your own extra money. Every time you have spare change (or find it in the couch cushions) put it into a savings jar and don’t break into it until vacation time. You may not have saved up for a vacation this way, but your pinched pennies may add up to cover meal costs, or that extra activity you planned.

10. Shop on a budget — This one may be hard for retail therapy lovers, but budgets really can free up money for later splurging. Make a weekly grocery budget and stick to it as close as you can. Also, try shopping at discount stores, and limit your spending on new items throughout the year. When the urge comes to spend, just remind yourself what you have to look forward to!

So there you have it! Hopefully these tips will help you save up this year so that next season we will see your happy faces on the Emerald Coast with your toes in the white sand and your hair in the salty breeze.

Safe travels!

 

12 ways to save energy and money

Saving energy and money go hand in hand. The Consumer Federation of America has identified 12 simple ways consumers can save. These tips can help consumers with energy-saving ideas that also save money. Energy takes a huge bite out of household budgets. Families on average spend $2200 each year on utility bills. By using the following energy saving tools households can save money and help the environment.

1. Air dry. Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle.

2. Turn it off. Use timers and motion detectors to turn off lights and be sure to unplug TV entertainment systems and don’t leave your computer and monitor on needlessly.

3. Don’t get burned with hot water. Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Water heaters are the second highest source of energy use in the home.

4. Fill it up, please. Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.

5. Keep ’em clean. Check furnace, heat pump, and AC filters once a month and replace them regularly. A dirty air filter can increase your energy costs and cause problems with your equipment.

6. Get a checkup. Get your heating system checked once a year. A licensed professional will make sure that your system is operating efficiently and safely.

7. Stop the breeze. Caulk and weather-strip around drafty doors and windows.

8. Get an audit. Your utility company may offer free energy audits that can identify expensive energy losses in your basement, unfinished rooms, attics and leaky ductwork.

9. Take a walk. Circle your home with an easy-to-use spray foam insulation and look for openings and gaps around pipes, chimneys, lights, windows, basement brick and cement work.

10. Get with the program. Install a programmable thermostat which automatically adjusts the temperature during the day or at night, it can save you up to $100 a year.

11. Stay bright. Replacing old lights with LEDs can save about $90 a year in electricity costs. You pay more up-front, but shop around, prices are dropping.

12. Be a star. Look for products and appliances that have earned the ENERGY STAR label. They meet strict new energy efficiency criteria that will reduce your utility bills.

10 ways to save up for your Destin vacation – The Destin Log

We’ve all had travel envy at one point or another. You know the drill, your friends post beautiful photos on social media of the crystal clear beach, or their cocktails by the pool, and you just think, “Not fair! How are they able to vacation and I’m not? What do they know that I don’t?”

Without pulling out the credit cards, and spending away your life savings (or lack thereof), we here at Destin.com have rustled up some ideas to help you get the vacation you deserve. We want to help get you here!

Although this list may not guarantee your bank will fit the bill — pun intended — here are a few rules of thumb that may just help you save up for your next (or first) vacation trip to Destin.

1. Eat out sparingly — This one takes a bit of self-control, but totally pays off in the end. Try eating out only once a week, or even less if you can. The extra money you will save can be stashed away for treating yourself to meals out while you are visiting our piece of paradise. Of course, this advice continues when you are actually on vacation; if you plan accordingly, you can score free breakfast at your hotel, pick up a picnic at a local grocer for lunch, and plan on only one meal out per day to save on extravagant meal costs. Most condos in Destin come with a full kitchen, so preparing your meals in-house is easier than you think!

2. Wine not — As in, do not purchase as much wine and alcohol. Let’s face it, alcohol is expensive, so if you want to save a buck, purchase fewer adult beverages, or consider limiting your consumption to a bottle or two of wine a week. This is a win-win as your calorie intake will also be on the healthier side!

3. Live local — While it seems that so many of your friends like to go on lavish trips, consider a closer-to-home choice that is within driving distance. When you need a break, consider a long weekend trip within a 6- to 12-hour drive from your home. Destin is actually within a day’s drive from many southern and midwestern states; take a look at Google Maps and plan your next “local” getaway. There are even a few airlines that offer reasonable rates to and from Destin — check to see if your hometown is on the list!

4. Try non-traditional housing — The best way to save up for a hotel is to not even have to pay for one! No really, consider trying a non-traditional route of staying with friends, family or an Airbnb, or VRBO. Airbnb options span from renting someone’s couch or bedroom to renting an entire house, depending on where you look. Often these type stays are cheaper and offer more room for your money. Happy hunting!

5. Cut out excess — There are a few first-world luxuries that can be lived without, and likewise can help save money. For example, a costly cable contract can be switched out for a monthly subscription to Netflix, Hulu or even a cell plan with an added TV option. These choices end up being cheaper, and as a bonus, can travel with you on your laptop or cellphone while you are on vacation! Other money-saving excess items could include cutting out magazine subscriptions, nail appointments, or even internet if you have access during the day.

6. Side-Hustle — Gone are the childhood days where a pop-up lemonade stand or lawn-mowing business can gain you an extra couple bucks, but there are still ways to make some money as a side job if you have a creative idea. For example, if you have craft skills, consider opening an Etsy shop online to sell what you make. If you have a deep closet, consider selling your extra clothes to consignment shops. Other ideas could include stock photography, cake baking or even being a referee for little league soccer games.

7. Travel Savvy — Did you know there are ways to save money while you spend money? Say what?! Yes, you read that correctly, there are deals to be found from booking your vacation activities to choosing a travel method. Besides your normal Groupon route, there are new phone and tablet apps that can help save and even earn money towards travel. (Check out www.wanderlustrewards.com, for example.) Other ideas are to check local travel sites for seasonal deals. For instance, many summer tourism hotspots offer discounts in the fall and winter and vice versa. If airfare is your main mode of travel, many airlines offer credit cards that can earn you points for qualifying flights and purchases.

8. Split the tab — Do you have close friends or family members that would love to accompany you on your getaway? Consider inviting them along for the trip, because shared expenses mean costs are lower for everyone!

9. Keep the change — This is a tried but true way to save your own extra money. Every time you have spare change (or find it in the couch cushions) put it into a savings jar and don’t break into it until vacation time. You may not have saved up for a vacation this way, but your pinched pennies may add up to cover meal costs, or that extra activity you planned.

10. Shop on a budget — This one may be hard for retail therapy lovers, but budgets really can free up money for later splurging. Make a weekly grocery budget and stick to it as close as you can. Also, try shopping at discount stores, and limit your spending on new items throughout the year. When the urge comes to spend, just remind yourself what you have to look forward to!

So there you have it! Hopefully these tips will help you save up this year so that next season we will see your happy faces on the Emerald Coast with your toes in the white sand and your hair in the salty breeze.

Safe travels!

 

Nine best personal finance influencers and publications for saving money

Published Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, 9:10 am

Smart ways to save money will always be a popular subject. In any economy, people are always looking for the best ways to save money so that they can spend on the things they love.

While a promo code search engine website can be a good way to make sure you’re always getting a bargain on a simple purchase, a money saver also knows when and where to spend money on the bigger things like retirement and investments.

Exercise your frugality muscle by following these personal finance publications and influencers below.

 

Kiplinger

Whether you subscribe to their magazine or just browse the website, you’ll find helpful tips and tricks on saving money. Kiplinger offers investment advice as well as stock market informational articles.


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For example, in slideshow form, you can flip through retirement mistakes to avoid that help you plan for successful golden years.

Taxes may be the most confusing thing we have to do every year. Kiplinger keeps you informed with advice pieces and up-to-date reform policy data.

Find out how long you should keep tax records, how to handle audits, information about IRA planning, and much more by staying in touch with Kiplinger.

 

Reader’s Digest

readers digestSince their first issue in 1922, Reader’s Digest has been a staple in American content publication. Through generation after generation, this magazine entertains and informs readers with recipes, humor, health advice, and so many other topics.

One of the best topics they cover is saving money. They devote a whole section to saving money and helping consumers make smart choices.

Advice on saving money for college, retiring, and more is available on Reader’s Digest. The publication even had an article recently on how to reuse your butter wrapper. Yes, there is a use for the paper that your butter is wrapped in after the butter is used up.

If there’s a way to save money, the Saving Money section of Reader’s Digest will tell you about it. You can find Reader’s Digest magazine coupons here.

 

US News Money

Investing. Some people get it, and others find it entirely intimidating. While the Money section of US News writes all kinds of articles related to money, they have a section dedicated to learning how to be a better investor.

Money informs the readers of the do’s and don’ts of investing, especially related to current trends and happenings.

This publication is useful for the person who wants to read about topics like personal finance and security, but has a special interest in investments.

They split their Investing section into four separate sections: Stocks, ETFs, Mutual Funds, and Advisors as well as Trending Stories related to the subject.

Each individual section offers an immense amount of information, proving the Money is a great choice for a reader who wants a site chock-full of helpful information.

 

Clark

Clark Howard is a popular consumer expert influencer who offers a website full of articles about how to save money in small ways.

The Money Saving section of his website is the most helpful for the everyday consumer and the person who is looking to stretch their dollar. In this section, you’ll find advice on where to find restaurants where kids eat free, a list of things you should always buy used, and ways to start married life with extra cash. You’ll also find unique reads, like how to make $35 worth of food last an entire month.

This influencer is a great for the reader who wants to seriously budget in small ways that make a big impact.

Howard also offers a budget podcast, so you can listen to episodes related to saving money while you’re driving or on the treadmill.

 

Suze Orman

Arguably the most famous money saving influencer, Suze Orman has built her career on helping individuals make better spending decisions.

Not only does she offer articles to read, you can browse videos to watch that explain how to save your money. Her website features an excellent Resource Center that covers topics ranging from what to do to get back on your financial feet after a fire and what action to take if you’re a victim of identity theft.

Learn about complicated topics like compound interest and refinancing by following Suze Orman and handle your money the smart way.

 

NerdWallet

In a world of unlimited (and often sketchy) places to put your money, NerdWallet helps guide you through the process of each choice you make.

Inc. wrote a feature about Nerd Wallet, explaining the benefits of following this new multi-million dollar company. Described as the “Yelp for finances,” CEO Tim Chen wanted to offer a website for people who can compare companies before making big financial life decisions.

Instead of a purely informational publication, Chen offers a destination designed to help people compare companies and choose what’s best for their financial future.

 

Budgets Are Sexy

If you’re looking for a money-saving site with a little more pizazz, visit Budgets Are Sexy and get to know J.Money. You’ll get first-hand advice from someone who has stumbled his way to absolute financial stability.

Those who click with his self-described “hyperactive” personality can have fun following advice from someone who details how to be financially successful. He aims not to be “boring” and makes finances interesting.

J.Money’s target audience is young people looking for direction. On his site, he features his “side hustle series” that offers information about making money outside of a normal 9-5 full time job. Make money doing things from picking up trash in parking lots to playing santa clause at your local mall.

 

The Simple Dollar

For those who are stuck in debt, The Simple Dollar is a wonderful source. Trent Hamm reveals how he crawled out of debt and created a life he loves.

The Simple Dollar is reliable, posting new blogs about saving money by writers every day. If you need something to be motivated by, The Simple Dollar is a great blog site with an inspirational back story.

 

The 99 Cent Chef

Who doesn’t love stretching a dollar when it comes to at-home meals? But did you know you could make full delicious and nutritious meals with ingredients only found at the dollar store?

A fun and informative site called The 99 Cent Chef teaches you how to make tasty meals by purchasing items found at your local ninety-nine cent shop.

Featuring photos, you’ll view meals ranging from simple to exotic made fresh.

The site is made with Blogspot and isn’t the most up-to-date in terms of design, but it makes up for it with easy navigation, fun gifs, and of course, awesome recipes.

 

Start Saving

Wherever your focus is, achieve your goals by drawing from good resources. Follow these helpful personal finance and money saving sites and create a stress-free financial future!


10 ways to save up for your Destin vacation – Destin – Northwest …

We’ve all had travel envy at one point or another. You know the drill, your friends post beautiful photos on social media of the crystal clear beach, or their cocktails by the pool, and you just think, “Not fair! How are they able to vacation and I’m not? What do they know that I don’t?”

Without pulling out the credit cards, and spending away your life savings (or lack thereof), we here at Destin.com have rustled up some ideas to help you get the vacation you deserve. We want to help get you here!

Although this list may not guarantee your bank will fit the bill — pun intended — here are a few rules of thumb that may just help you save up for your next (or first) vacation trip to Destin.

1. Eat out sparingly — This one takes a bit of self-control, but totally pays off in the end. Try eating out only once a week, or even less if you can. The extra money you will save can be stashed away for treating yourself to meals out while you are visiting our piece of paradise. Of course, this advice continues when you are actually on vacation; if you plan accordingly, you can score free breakfast at your hotel, pick up a picnic at a local grocer for lunch, and plan on only one meal out per day to save on extravagant meal costs. Most condos in Destin come with a full kitchen, so preparing your meals in-house is easier than you think!

2. Wine not — As in, do not purchase as much wine and alcohol. Let’s face it, alcohol is expensive, so if you want to save a buck, purchase fewer adult beverages, or consider limiting your consumption to a bottle or two of wine a week. This is a win-win as your calorie intake will also be on the healthier side!

3. Live local — While it seems that so many of your friends like to go on lavish trips, consider a closer-to-home choice that is within driving distance. When you need a break, consider a long weekend trip within a 6- to 12-hour drive from your home. Destin is actually within a day’s drive from many southern and midwestern states; take a look at Google Maps and plan your next “local” getaway. There are even a few airlines that offer reasonable rates to and from Destin — check to see if your hometown is on the list!

4. Try non-traditional housing — The best way to save up for a hotel is to not even have to pay for one! No really, consider trying a non-traditional route of staying with friends, family or an Airbnb, or VRBO. Airbnb options span from renting someone’s couch or bedroom to renting an entire house, depending on where you look. Often these type stays are cheaper and offer more room for your money. Happy hunting!

5. Cut out excess — There are a few first-world luxuries that can be lived without, and likewise can help save money. For example, a costly cable contract can be switched out for a monthly subscription to Netflix, Hulu or even a cell plan with an added TV option. These choices end up being cheaper, and as a bonus, can travel with you on your laptop or cellphone while you are on vacation! Other money-saving excess items could include cutting out magazine subscriptions, nail appointments, or even internet if you have access during the day.

6. Side-Hustle — Gone are the childhood days where a pop-up lemonade stand or lawn-mowing business can gain you an extra couple bucks, but there are still ways to make some money as a side job if you have a creative idea. For example, if you have craft skills, consider opening an Etsy shop online to sell what you make. If you have a deep closet, consider selling your extra clothes to consignment shops. Other ideas could include stock photography, cake baking or even being a referee for little league soccer games.

7. Travel Savvy — Did you know there are ways to save money while you spend money? Say what?! Yes, you read that correctly, there are deals to be found from booking your vacation activities to choosing a travel method. Besides your normal Groupon route, there are new phone and tablet apps that can help save and even earn money towards travel. (Check out www.wanderlustrewards.com, for example.) Other ideas are to check local travel sites for seasonal deals. For instance, many summer tourism hotspots offer discounts in the fall and winter and vice versa. If airfare is your main mode of travel, many airlines offer credit cards that can earn you points for qualifying flights and purchases.

8. Split the tab — Do you have close friends or family members that would love to accompany you on your getaway? Consider inviting them along for the trip, because shared expenses mean costs are lower for everyone!

9. Keep the change — This is a tried but true way to save your own extra money. Every time you have spare change (or find it in the couch cushions) put it into a savings jar and don’t break into it until vacation time. You may not have saved up for a vacation this way, but your pinched pennies may add up to cover meal costs, or that extra activity you planned.

10. Shop on a budget — This one may be hard for retail therapy lovers, but budgets really can free up money for later splurging. Make a weekly grocery budget and stick to it as close as you can. Also, try shopping at discount stores, and limit your spending on new items throughout the year. When the urge comes to spend, just remind yourself what you have to look forward to!

So there you have it! Hopefully these tips will help you save up this year so that next season we will see your happy faces on the Emerald Coast with your toes in the white sand and your hair in the salty breeze.

Safe travels!

 

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Australia
is on
the
threshold
of a major reduction in its relative military
capabilities
against the broader region. Since the early 1990s the
region has experienced unprecedented growth in military capabilities,
most noticeably in air power and in modern guided weapons, largely of
Russian origin. In this rapidly evolving
strategic environment
,
Australia is actively reducing the relative capability of the Royal
Australian Air Force (RAAF), rather than seeking to maintain its
historical advantage in capability.

This capability reduction is being effected in the short term by
premature retirement of the F-111 strike fleet,
which provided around 50% of the nation’s strike capability. In the
long
term, myopic insistence on a single type replacement of the F/A-18A and F-111 forces, the preferred Joint Strike Fighter  to be used in roles it
was not defined for.  It is thus not expected to provide the
capability advantages historically enjoyed by the RAAF, as it is a
battlefield strike and close air support system rather than a general
purpose fighter bomber like the F-22A.
Numerous industry proposals to affordably increase RAAF capability
exist, for instance by further expansion of the tanker
fleet
using surplus commercial airliners.

Unless Australia rapidly
implements aggressive policy
changes
in long
term planning for the RAAF force structure, Australia’s slide in
capabilities relative to the Asia-Pacific-Indian region will continue
unabated.


Air Power Australia was founded by Dr Carlo Kopp
and Mr Peter Goon.  The research
findings
  presented by Air Power Australia are derived from
rigorous quantitative analyses that have been peer reviewed in order to
provide a benchmark for analytical technique and debate in
Australia.  Air Power Australia does not seek to dwell on the
question of who is right or wrong when it comes to Australia’s defence
capability needs; Air Power Australia will focus on what is  right
for Australia and future generations of Australians.

We hope APA
website
and associated endeavours contribute to securing
a more appropriate air power force structure for the defence of current
and future generations of Australians.  Our future will depend on
an RAAF  force structure which is more cost effective, reflects
the
innovative Australian ethos and carries far less risk than that
currently planned for by the Department of Defence.

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Featured Category #5

Richard Thaler: 5 crucial money saving and life wisdoms from the 2017 Economic Nobel Prize winner

For much of the 20th century, many economists assumed people behaved rationally and in their own self-interest. If a person goes to the store and is deciding between two otherwise identical kinds of toilet paper? They’ll buy the cheaper one. If someone makes an offer to buy your house? You’ll do the math to figure out if the price is enough to justify the cost of a move, and take or reject the offer. Right?

Well, maybe not. These assumptions never sat right with University of Chicago economist Richard Thaler, who on Monday was granted the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (note: somewhat confusingly, this “economic Nobel” is not technically in the same category as other Nobel Prizes, since it was established after Alfred Nobel’s death, in his memory).

For one, if people are so economically rational, Thaler once wrote, why do we give one another gifts?

Publishing key research in the early 1980s, Thaler and his ideas at first seemed radical — so much so that much of the economics faculty at the University of Chicago reportedly tried to block his appointment. Eventually, Thaler’s ideas helped give rise to the modern field of behavioral economics, which combines elements of economics and psychology in an attempt to figure out why people make the decisions they make. Some of his findings have had huge ramifications, particularly for anyone trying to save money.

If you have a company retirement account, for example, Thaler’s research may have influenced how you were enrolled. In one experiment on retirement savers, Thaler showed that when plans were automated, workers more than tripled the percentage of each paycheck they saved. One of Thaler’s peers estimates that his suggestions about how to structure retirement accounts have added some $29.6 billion to people’s savings.

Here are some more of Thaler’s most celebrated — and useful — pieces of wisdom.

1. Auction “winners” are often money losers

One of Thaler’s most popular early papers was about a concept called the “winner’s curse,” which was based on the idea that people who “win” auctions tend to overpay for whatever it is they purchased.

The winner’s curse can happen in two ways: Paying more for something than it’s worth intrinsically, or having something turn out to be worth less than you thought it would when you decided what to pay for it. That the winner’s curse happens at all, Thaler writes, is proof bidders are not behaving rationally.

The winner’s curse happens often, he explained, because people tend make mistakes when they’re trying to figure out what to bid. Large groups of bidders also tend to encourage people to bid more aggressively, driving an item up to a higher price, and making it less likely the “winner” is getting a good deal.

One key takeaway? Stick with lotteries — especially the free kind.

2. You tend to think your own stuff is more valuable than it is

Another one of the ideas Thaler helped popularize was something called the “endowment effect,” which is another way of saying that people tend to overvalue their own possessions, all other elements being equal.

In one often-cited experiment, Thaler took a group of economics students and gave half of them college coffee mugs and instructed them to assign a value to the mugs. Those who had mugs perceived the mugs as being more valuable than those who did not.

The reason for this may have to do with something called loss aversion, which holds that people tend to overestimate the pain of losing something and underestimate the pleasure of acquiring it. In one of his papers, the endowment effect is used to explain why so few people who have their pictures developed request refunds for pictures that turn out poorly.

3. Taking a long view pays off

One of the main reasons the committee decided to give the Nobel award to Thaler was his work on the topic of self-control. Everyone knows they’re supposed to save for retirement, but comparatively few people actually save enough — and the reason is because people have a hard time balancing long-term preparations with everyday demands and temptations.

Thaler’s framework for analyzing this tension, called the planner-doer model, is widely used by psychologists and neuroscientists. This tension explains why so many people still opt to have that morning coffee, despite the fact that a lifetime of coffee savings could save you a solid chunk of change over time.

That simple finding paved the way for one of the most surefire ways to save more money: Take five minutes right now and automate your account deposits.

4. It’s smart to pay attention to the invisible design choices steering decision-making

Automatically enrolling people into retirement accounts is an example of something Thaler and one of his research partners, Cass Sunstein, call a “nudge,” a slight tweak to the process which leads to substantially better outcomes. Public policy makers have increasingly looked for other ways to “nudge” individuals in the direction of better long-term choices.

One of the best examples? Thaler’s arguments for automatic enrollment are often credited with a nationwide push to automatically enroll children for free school-lunch benefits. A similar plan that’s underway in New York City public schools is expected to expand access to an additional 200,000 children.

5. You tend to overreact to bad news — and underreact to good news

It should come as no surprise that Thaler’s ideas have also influenced investing strategy. The Nobel Prize-winner sub-advises one fund that makes stock picks by applying his principles — like the idea that people tend to overreact to bad news and underreact to good news — by examining which company insiders seem to be buying or selling lots of stock.

Thaler’s Undiscovered Managers Behavioral Value Fund has about $6 billion under management, according to Bloomberg. It has also done relatively well, returning about 16% annually on average, better than 97% of its peers.

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Debt, Diet …and Divorce

You may have noticed a few changes to the blog and with me in the last 2 years. I think it’s time to share why.

I’m offering my own story because I hope it will help others who are struggling financially or emotionally. Life happens to all of us and there are ways to work through those challenges, one day and one dollar at a time.

I’ll start with the big one

Today is the 1 year anniversary of my divorce.

It has been an empowering, eye-opening, life-changing, overwhelming (at times) and incredible 2 years+ since the separation. I won’t get in to the details of the divorce. Obviously, that would not be appropriate. However, suffice it to say that a good deal of legal assistance was required. It was an expensive, frustrating and emotionally draining process that took far too long because of the antiquated divorce laws in North Carolina. Because of the attorney fees, I incurred debt for the first time in over a decade (other than the mortgage). We’ll get to that part in just a bit.

For me, the most important part of this transition has been the emotional health of our daughters, who are now 18 and 16. They are exceptional young women and I am so very proud of them. As anyone who has been through this knows, there is nothing easy about divorce. But, it is ESPECIALLY hard on the kids. It has not been a smooth experience for either of the girls, but they have shown an impressive level of maturity and emotional strength.

Our 18 year old is thriving at UNC Chapel Hill as a chemistry major with a significant scholarship because of her success in high school. Our younger daughter was inducted in to the National Honor Society at her High School just this morning! Thankfully, they have adjusted incredibly well, considering the circumstances, and I am so grateful to be their mom.

The path to better health on a budget

In mid-2015, I was stressed, unhappy, overweight, not exercising and eating poorly. As anyone who has ever struggled with weight knows, emotional stress can often play a huge role in how well we take care of ourselves. I have gone back and forth between being fit and overweight my entire life. For me, the weight struggle truly is real. After the separation, I decided to give myself one year to get back on track both physically and emotionally. I read a tremendous amount of “self-help” material and I started exercising again. At the bottom of this article, you can see some of the resources I have found to be beneficial throughout this journey. I began walking, using the elliptical machine or lifting weights at least 4 days a week and I tracked my calories, fat and protein intake. I ate fewer carbs and took many more steps. Slowly I got stronger, faster and healthier. By the end of 1 year, at my 30th high school reunion in July 2016, I was a size 6. That was the smallest size I had worn since sometime around birth.

Now, a little more than a year later, I am maintaining at a size 8 – 10. I am no longer tracking every single calorie and bread does appear at dinner every once in a while. Like Oprah, I LOVE BREAD! It is my intention to wear those size 6’s again by the end of the year. But I am no longer kicking myself over a size up or down.

These days, our menu consists of lots of veggies, fruits, high fiber whole grains and quality lean proteins like chicken breast, salmon, shrimp, flounder, tofu, veggie burgers, Greek yogurt and eggs. I no longer eat red meat and I was never a pork eater so you won’t see those types of proteins on my meal plan each week.

I do a lot more shopping of the perimeter of the store and don’t buy nearly as many packaged and processed foods. Needless to say, I don’t use manufacturer’s coupons as much for processed food as I used to because so many of them are for less healthy products. I continue to use coupons all the time for non-food bath beauty and paper products as well as yogurt, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, soup, pasta sauce, salad dressing, frozen veggies and more. Savings on those products help to cover the cost of the healthier foods (for which there are often no coupons).

I shop the produce and meat sales and clearance, use coupons and earn free gift cards to places like CVS, Target and Walmart from Swagbucks.com. I also use store coupons and promotions like Food Lion’s Shop Earn, Kroger’s digital coupons and $10 off $50 Harris Teeter coupons from redeeming points at www.Recyclebank.com . I love Savingstar and also use Ibotta and Checkout51 for cash back rebates. I am still adjusting our weekly food budget since my oldest went to college, but we are hovering around $70 per week for the 2 of us. My goal is $1 or less per lb. for produce and $2 or less per lb. for proteins. Our whole grains are usually 50% – 100% off with sales, markdowns, super doubles and coupons.

The last 2 years have shown me that even when buying higher quality foods, you can still live within a frugal budget and eat very well.

The money part

As I already mentioned, with the divorce came the debt. On top of the legal fees, in March of 2016, I had surgery to remove my very angry gall bladder. As you can imagine, it wasn’t free. Thankfully, I did have health insurance so I “only” ended up owing a few thousand dollars, not tens of thousands. And I could eat again and didn’t feel like I was having a heart attack, so that was awesome.

However, it’s a very unsettling feeling to go from being essentially debt-free (other than the mortgage) to owing many thousands of dollars in credit card and medical expenses.

If you have been in that position, for any reason, you know exactly what I mean. Some nights, you wake up in the middle of the night in a panic that you won’t have enough for the power bill. Some nights you lay awake unable to fall asleep because of the stress of debt. In all honestly, my dad and brothers reassured me that if I needed help, they were there for me. That definitely eased my worries, but that is not a route I have ever wanted to take. I fully intended to support myself and the girls as a single parent.

So I took those skills that I teach and live every day, kicked them in to high gear and spent the last year paying off debt – one month and one dollar at a time. I am thrilled to share that in August I paid off the last of the legal bills and credit card debt and I am 2 months away from paying off the last $600 of the hospital bill (which charges no interest, thankfully). I still have a reasonable mortgage and a $200 per month car payment for my oldest daughter’s car. I got a loan from my dad for the car with no interest so that’s a pretty good deal as well. I drive a used, paid-off 2005 Toyota Avalon that my dad gave to us when he bought a newer model years ago and I hope it keeps going for another 185,000 miles!

Admittedly, I could have been even more frugal, but I did not want the kids’ entire world turned upside down any more than it already was. Even with frugality, there is balance. They still have their cell phones and we still have Netflix. And by the way, we watched the movie Lion with Dev Patel on Netflix this weekend and it was incredible.

You have probably noticed more posts on the blog for affiliates like Amazon.com, Swabucks.com and Macys.com. You can be confident that I only post deals I believe are genuinely good and that I would get myself. In many cases, I have bought the items I post about to use in our home or as gifts. I research the reviews and won’t post the dirt cheap sales if the products are clearly panned by customers.

The affiliate income this provides has been the additional income that I needed in order to keep blogging and support my family. As an independent contractor, I buy my own health insurance through the exchange, have no employer-sponsored retirement plan and receive no vacation, sick or holiday pay. I have considered going back to work in Human Resources again many times for the stability and benefits (and because I love training). But I adore my work with WRAL and the opportunity to teach money saving classes all over NC and I love helping you to live more comfortably within your means.

It’s hard to believe, but I start my 9th year with WRAL in November! So for now, I’m going to do whatever it takes to keep this up and sometimes that means more affiliate links. I hope you understand. I can assure you, I will be looking for all the best deals for all of us during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, throughout December and all year long.

While I’m not completely debt free yet, I am closer now than I was 2 years ago. I have multiple short term and long term financial goals and they drive my spending and saving. It’s clear that I won’t be FIRE (financially independent, retired early in my 40’s), but I am on the right track to retiring eventually. With my 50th birthday coming up in 2018, I am more hopeful than ever about the future.

The most surprising part of the last few years is that in early 2017, I met and fell in love with a wonderful man! And I know you are wondering how I hooked such a fabulous catch. Well…….. online. Yep – after multiple friends encouraged me, I signed myself up for Match and started dating. That’s an entirely different and absolutely hysterical article! But it worked. I actually met my match. He’s incredibly kind to me and to my girls and I am so grateful he is in our lives. An added bonus is that he is a frugal accountant, so he also knows his way around a budget and a produce clearance rack. How cute (and totally hot) is that?!

There you have it. My financial and emotional transformation. It is a work in progress, as it is for all of us. But I look at every day as an opportunity and a gift. I live in the present and strive to be the most kind and loving person that I can be. I am so lucky to live this life that it’s ridiculous. I get to help people feed their families, save for retirement, get out of debt and find financial peace of mind. If I can do that for the rest of my life I will be so thrilled.

If you work with a non-profit organization, high school or college group and are looking for a frugal living or grocery savings/couponing speaker in 2018, feel free to reach out to me. I teach a number of free classes every year and I would be happy to speak with you about available class topics.

If you work for a business, are hosting a conference or belong to another group that would like for me to teach a Lunch and Learn, conference course or 2 -3 hour class or offer a keynote address, send me an e-mail.

If you have any tips that have helped you in tough financial times or any money saving divorce ideas, please post them in the comments. I would love to hear your stories as well. You can post them here on the blog or send them to me privately at faye@smartspendingresources.com.

So thank you for taking and continuing on this journey with me.

As I always say, it’s your money, spend it wisely. And today I will add: It’s your life, spend your time wisely.

Recommended Resources

The following resources helped with financial questions and brought some light to the darker times in the last few years and I highly recommend them. Feel free to share any other resources you recommend in the comments section.

Websites:

Bankrate.com for financial articles and I love their amortization calculators for figuring out how long it will take to pay loans off (like your mortgage).

Marc and Angel Hack Life at http://www.marcandangel.com/ for motivational and stress-reduction articles

Mr. Money Mustache at www.mrmoneymustache.com for information about how to reach financial independence and retire early

The Facebook pages for Goodful, Tasty, Budget meals, Crock-Pot Ladies, Marc and Angel Hack Life, You Are Not Stuck, The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, Buddha Groove, Mustachians in Practice (an early retirement page)

While you are at it, join me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WRALSmartShopper/

Books:

Awakening Kindness by Nawang Khechong

Joshua, The Journey Home by Joseph Girzone

Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

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