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I know you have heard it before so I will say it again! It’s never to late to save and no amount is too small. To me, savings is like exercising and eating healthy. You know you should do it but its difficult and where do you begin. I’m am going to show you how saving a small amount does pay off using this Simple Savings Plan.

Start by saving $5 per week.  You can either go to the bank directly or it would be easier to have it taken out of your account the same time every week. If you get paid every two weeks then save $10 per pay check. When you begin, its important to make the savings so small that you won’t miss it too much.

Then, after one year of saving only $5 per week, increase the amount by $5. So, in your second year of the Simple Savings Plan, your are now saving $10 per week or if you get paid every 2 weeks then its $20 per pay check. Just think what may have happened throughout that first year. You may have gotten a new higher paying job, a raise or paid off a debt. If so, then savings an extra $5 a week isn’t much!

At year three, increase that amount by an additional $5. You will be saving a total of $15 per week by the third year of the Simple Savings Plan. Do you get where I am going with this? By the end of year three you will have a total of $1,560. If you follow this routine for ten years, you will have about $14,300 and that’s not including interest.

Just to recap, here is the plan:
Year 1 – $5 per week = $260
Year 2 – $10 per week = $520
Year 3 – $15 per week = $780
Year 4 – $20 per week = $1040
Year 5 – $25 per week = $1300
Year 6 – $30 per week = $1560
Year 7 – $35 per week = $1820
Year 8 – $40 per week = $2080
Year 9 – $45 per week = $2340
Year 10 – $50 per week = $2600

Grand total of $14,300 plus interest!
I know this amount is nothing to retire on but its a start.
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One of Maryland’s best kept secrets is The Book Thing. It’s mission is to put unwanted books in the hands of someone who wants them. With the vast number of books at this location, there is something here for everyone. Categories include children, fiction, non-fiction, beauty, health &  finance. All of which are nicely organized on shelves throughout. The best thing about The Book Thing is that everything is FREE. The Book Thing operates exclusively on donations from the community. Donations of books, money, volunteers, beverages (for the volunteers), lumber and many other supplies help to keep it up and running.

You can drop off any book that you no longer want or you can pick out any books you might want to read. There’s no limit. All books are stamped with NO-RESALE so you can’t pull a fast one and try to sell them somewhere else. They do ask that when you leave, you write down the number of books you have taken and dropped off so they can have and estimate of their inventory.

With Back To School right around the corner, save some money by visiting The Book Thing. You may find what you are looking for, for FREE!

My nephew is very interest in new, classic & antique cars. I decided to search for a car show in the Harford County area and I came upon the Ladew Topiary Gardens. A topiary garden right here in Harford County! I’ve never been to one and I was very excited to take a look. When we first arrived we could see all the cars lined up in the front of the garden. We were then directed into the gift shop where you must get a sticker for the day. Like I said, I’ve never been to a topiary garden so for the first time I PAID to get into a garden. I could have paid $10 for myself and $8 for my nephew to get in for the day OR $35 for an individual yearly membership to enter the park with a guest. The membership includes FREE admission to the house, garden & nature walk. You also get discounts, notifications on events and a newsletter twice a year. Other memberships ranged from $65 to $1000 with more to offer but I  chose the individual membership. I didn’t know if I would enjoy it but as long as I came back once more it would have been worth it for the price. After my purchase, I was handed a couple of pamphlets which included a map and off we went.

We started with a look around the car show since that was the main reason for this. On display at the entrance of the garden was over 25 antique & classic vehicles from automakers throughout the United States and Europe. The owners were very nice about allowing you to take pictures as well as telling you a little about the vehicles.

An hour or so later we entered the garden. As we walked through one of the many entrances I felt like I was walking through a scene of the Secret Garden. This place was made up of several smaller gardens. We would enter through one area to view the colorful unfamiliar plants to then enter another almost entirely different dreamy scene. To make the park more educational, a lot of the plants are labeled but some of the were hard to see because of overgrowth. There are fountains and ponds all nicely placed to take you on an interesting journey. We even saw fish, frogs, birds and butterflies. If you are ever in the Harford County area, you should stop by. It’s definitely an adventure.

The Sunday paper is the most important paper of the week. In the Sunday paper, not only are there a large selection of stories to read, you also have hundreds of dollars of savings at your finger tips. These multicolored and sometimes oddly shaped savings passes are called coupons and can be redeemed at any participating store. As long as you use a coupon that is equal to or greater than the price you paid for the Sunday paper, you broke even. Some Maryland Dollar Tree stores sell the Sunday paper for just $1 on Friday, Saturday & Sunday but you have to get there early because they sell out quick.

Participating stores can also double or triple coupons up to $1 so keep your eyes open for these extra savings. One common mistake is to use the coupons to purchase items that you may not want. You should only use them to purchase items that you would normally use or want to try. Once the coupons are cut, try to keep them organized to make it easy. Just remember that every dollar you save now using a coupon, goes toward something else you may want in the future.

If you are going to visit Irvine Nature Center, make sure you have your hiking shoes. I thought it was just a FREE nature park but I found out it is so much more. I arrive at 11am sharp, nicely dressed with my capris and flip flops on, which I later regret wearing. I was greeted at the nature center’s main building by a friendly gentleman who told me about the facility. Irvine has been around for 35 years but only 3 years at this location. He directed me over to a large map of the area pointing out some highlights of the park like the Raptor Aviary & the Wildlife Blind.  To our right was the gift shop and to my left was a small educational animal center. I was also informed that there are activities throughout the year and today was my lucky day. There was a nature walk at 12pm that I could participate in. It’s FREE to members and a whooping $2.00 to non-members. I walked around the facility and I was becoming impressed. They have various small animals on display like snakes, turtles & birds along with a few interactive displays that the kids would like.

By the time I completed my walk around the Nature Center main building I was ready for my walk around the nature center trails so I declined the nature walk and the nice gentleman handed me a map (which he asked that I return at the end of my walk to conserve paper) and pointed me to the start of the trail. Every step I took I became more and more excited to walk further. I came upon the Raptor Aviary where I saw an owl, a wildlife blind where I saw the first of many chipmunks and the gazebo where there is a spectacular view.

I walked up one trail and down another, taking numerous pictures in between. And an hour and a half later I still wasn’t able to finish the entire park.  I walked back into the nature center building with a sense of defeat. I was tired. I returned my map and headed home. I will definitely return to the Irvine Nature Center. And next time, I will be prepared!

Every time I mention to someone that I don’t have air conditioning, I see a shocking then sorry look appear on their face. No need to feel sorry for me because I actually choose NOT to have it. Since I can remember, I never liked the feeling of processed air and now as an adult, I don’t like the cost of it either. To me, cost should always the deciding factor when it comes to luxuries like air conditioning. So at this time it’s really not worth having.

On the Sunday Morning Show, Mitch Butler & Josh Landis of “The Fast Draw”, made a creative two-minute cartoon called Air Conditioning. It was about how hot summer days could be good for you! Studies show that people who work inside air conditioned offices catch colds and go to the doctors more often than people who work outside. I was aware that you can burn more calories when its hot but I never even thought about how the cold processed air inside could make you eat more!

So just by being money conscience (aka cheap) and not using air conditioning in my home, I have not only saved money but possibly become healthier and saved myself from gaining a few pounds.

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