How to Get Cheap, or Free Christmas Decorations

There’s not much I love more than Christmastime. Though I’m far from being a minimalist, I certainly don’t enjoy ‘’stuff’’. I generally don’t like trinkets or things surrounding me. I like clean, open and tidy. The only exception is when it comes to Christmas. I love Christmas decorations. I count down the days every year that I can decorate the house, complete with little Christmas trinkets, lights, garlands, trees, you name it we have it. I have a lot of sentimental attachment to my Christmas decorations and probably have a good story, or memory, with just about every Christmas decoration I own.

Though my collection has accumulated since my childhood, I do go through everything every year and phase things out as I add new ones. Given that Christmas is already an expensive time of year, cheap, or even free, Christmas decorations are my favorite kind.

Thankfully now that I have a kid, my stash of free Christmas decorations is growing quickly. I remember being a kid and wondering why my mom had such an attachment to ornaments and decorations my sister and made for her when I saw them as being less than perfect. Now that I’m a mom, I totally get it. Free Christmas decorations made by your kids are the very best kind to add to your collection. If I’m being honest I don’t keep every single thing that my daughter makes, like every picture she colors, but those special ones, the tree ornaments she makes for us, no matter how ‘’cheap’’ they are, are my favorite. In my option, the best free Christmas decorations are ones that are homemade.

Obviously not everyone who is looking for free Christmas decorations, has kids. One easy way of getting free Christmas decorations is to look no further than your online classifieds. I know both our local (within the neighbourhood we live) and our city, has a ‘’free’’ section and this time of year there is often free Christmas decorations listed. I know if I was looking to get rid of a few things  I would bundle them up in a box, take a picture ad post it for free, this isn’t the time of year I’m looking to profit from a sale, I’d just rather someone else enjoy my free Christmas decorations.

Though this isn’t totally free, an easy way to build your Christmas decoration collection for cheap is to organize, or attend, a Christmas ornament (or decoration) exchange. Usually you provide one decoration or ornament per person attending and everyone there also supplies one. So if 10 people were in attendance (including you) you would go home with nine new, free Christmas decorations. There is a small upfront cost (though there are millions of ways to DIY or potentially find free ones to exchange) but you stand a chance to gain quite a few nice new things for your collection.

If you’re looking to start, or grow your Christmas decoration collection, it doesn’t hurt to see what you can get for free. As mentioned, it’s an expensive time of year and arguably, Christmas decorations aren’t a necessity, but if you’re anything like me you enjoy having them around. Look to see what options you have for free Christmas decorations and go from there. Save your money for more important parts of the season and don’t waste it on stuff just to have it.

Have you every acquired or been given free Christmas decorations? What were the circumstances?

Can I Deduct My Moving Expenses This Year?

Moving is really hard work, it costs you money and causes disruptions to your life. It sure would be nice if you could get reimbursed for your moving expenses through a bigger tax deduction this year, wouldn’t it? But, surely that’s too good to be true. Or is it?

moving expense deductions

Any way you can get the “tax monkey” a little more off your back, the better. Yes, it is possible that your move this tax year will qualify you for a hefty deduction. But there are rules you need to know first.

How Do I Qualify for a “Moving Deduction?”

The basic rule is that you can only deduct your moving expenses if your recent move was “work-related.” That means you moved in order to live near your new employer or you were transferred by your old employer to a new location. But your new workplace must be 50 or more miles more distant from your old home than your old workplace was from your old home. That may sound a bit confusing, so here’s a couple examples:

  • Your old home is 100 miles from your new workplace. Your old home is also 15 miles from your old place of employ. 100 minus 15 is 85 miles more distant, so you get the deduction.
  • Your old home is 50 miles from your new home, but only 45 miles from your new workplace. Plus, you were already commuting 10 miles from your old home to your old job. 45 minus 10 equals only 35 miles, so you don’t get the deduction.

calculate distances for moving deductions

Note you have to calculate distances using the shortest possible commute route, even if that’s not the way you actually travel.

Second, you must work full time for 39 weeks out of the first year at your new job, the 12-month period commencing from moving day. Each industry will have different standards on what counts as “full time.”

You can claim the deduction the year of your move, even though the 12 months won’t end until the next year (unless you moved January 1st!). However, if it turns out you didn’t work full time to ultimately qualify for the deduction, you have to refund it on your next tax return.

Incidentally, the relevant tax form is IRS Form 3903.

What Can I Deduct Specifically?

Any “reasonable expenses” incurred in the move can be deducted, if you have the receipts. That includes moving trucks, gas and tolls getting there, a storage unit if you couldn’t move in immediately and needed one, or plane/train tickets.

It also includes vehicle shipping expenses, if you used a car shipping company rather than drove your vehicle the distance. Check out to learn more.

You can also take the “standard moving mileage deduction” instead of the gas deduction (if you drove). Just estimate which one will save you more.

In essence, you are deducting any expense that was necessary and directly related to your relocation. You may need to ask a tax expert about some of the details, but definitely save all receipts of anything that could possibly qualify.

5 Ways to Get the Cheapest Price on a Term Life Insurance Policy

Buying life insurance is a big step in life, one which acknowledges the importance of the people you love and of your own mortality. Heavy thoughts aside, term life insurance is a very affordable way to prepare for the future, with exactly the terms you need for your specific situation. Term life is much cheaper than whole life insurance, and can be renewed and adjusted as needed. For peace of mind and future security, there’s not a better product you could buy. Here are some of the ways you can make sure you get a great price on term life insurance.

  • Shop around online for life insurance quotes. Sites like True Blue Life Insurance make it easy to explore all of your possibilities. Some life insurance companies make it seem like every policy you could be offered is basically the same. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Term life insurance is about your unique needs and your personal budget. Keep looking until you find terms that work for you.
  • Choose an independent broker. You’ll be able to find institutional insurance companies which cast a wide net but don’t offer personalized service or value. You’ll also find fly-by-night organizations that will gladly take your money but might not offer the right kind of service when it’s most needed. A solid independent broker will be competitive and responsive to your needs, because their business depends on it.
  • Look at agent and agency reviews. Want to know what it’s like working with a company before you sign on the dotted line? Look at some online reviews. You should be able to find ample reviews for any insurance option worthy of your business. Be careful to avoid reviews that seem phony – overly enthusiastic or structured in a way that a real person would not write. When you find the real thing and the reviews are good, you know you’ve discovered a quality agent or agency.
  • Don’t buy directly from an insurance company. Agents from these large companies are not knowledgeable about the wider insurance landscape and are really just in place to make sure their company gets your business. An independent agent will understand the larger industry and will be able to direct you to products that best serve your needs.
  • Choose an A rated company from AM Best. This is a third party that evaluates different insurance companies’ financial strength. Accredited third party reviews like these help structure the entire insurance market, because consumers alone are often not sophisticated enough about the life insurance market to make these evaluations. Their criteria will offer you facts you won’t find in life insurance marketing media – a valuable provision in the complex world of insurance.

Term life insurance is usually very affordably, but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t still look for the best price. With many options available on the market, it’ll take a little research, but you’ll save for months and years to come, so the extra effort it worth it. Good luck in the hunt!

5 Innovative Ways to Keep Your Business Productive

5 innovative ways to keep your business productive

Time is the most valuable resource, but it’s one of the few things that no one can actually control. However, business owners can get organized and adapt better ways to control how productively they use their time.

Not all ways to improve productivity are straightforward. Sometimes, it can be difficult to find the necessary ways to do so. Here are five innovative things they can do to keep their businesses productive around the clock.

Streamline Workflows

In the current digital world, businesses have moved towards a paperless office. There is hardly any document that they store in hard-copy format. One of the best ways to be productive in these circumstances is to use mobile devices to print business documents.

Using mobile devices provides employee mobility. It also reduces the demand for significantly large networks desktop computers. Furthermore, it reduces paper waste and increases security.

Try Polyphasic Sleep

A recent research has indicated that sleep deprivation cost many businesses in the United States over $411 billion collectively. Taking this into account, polyphasic sleep can be an alternative to traditional sleep patterns. It is a type of sleep hack that disrupts the normal monophasic sleep and be able to sleep 30 minutes every six hours.

This approach can help a business owner to get the rewards of a normal seven-hour sleep and also makes them more productive.

Enhance Employee Safety

Businesses should do several things to protect their employees against injury. Everyone in a business that is informed of the rules on their safety and the reasons they are in place can be more productive.

Businesses should also make sure all the employees have clear responsibility for workplace health and safety for better results. But do not forget to have a marijuana blood test. It is the best way to get to know the exact amount of cannabis that is in the employee’s system.

Eat Well

Many employees in the current fast-paced world feel so pressed for time that they don’t take meal breaks. This has an adverse impact on their efficiency and concentration. Take enough time to eat lunch or grab a few snacks to help you remain fully charged for the rest of your day.

Turn Off Email Alerts

Too many email alerts are the number one distraction in the day of an employee. It is a notorious productivity and time killer. When emails come in, alerts ring. This drags the individual away from the tasks they were working on. There is no way a business person can ignore an email alert. It is human nature to want to respond to such alerts. Business productivity can increase significantly when one turns away the alerts

If a business owner wants more work done within less time, they need to get organized. This can enable them to stay focus, but that’s not all that one needs. Forwarding-thinking individuals follow the above innovative strategies as well.