How to pay a baby sitter


Finding a new baby sitter is stressful enough, with combing through applicants, interviews and background checks. Then there’s figuring out how to pay one.

“It’s nerve-wracking to hand the child over to somebody and make sure (the way you’re bringing up the child) remains consistent,” said Melissa Marchwick, executive vice president of brand marketing and communications at Sittercity, a national online matchmaker for sitters, nannies and parents.

Setting a competitive rate is important for quality care, but, Marchwick says, don’t pay too much. The standard hourly rate varies, depending on the region of the country, from $10.25 to $16 per hour. (Nannies, who usually care for children on a weekly basis, are generally paid a flat rate per day or given additional benefits.)

Find and fix the cause of your fatigue


National survey results suggest that “utterly exhausted” may be America’s new normal, Consumer Reports notes. In one survey, 37 percent of working adults admitted they’d felt fatigued in the previous two weeks.

Letting fatigue drag on can mess with your mood and may even boost your risk for depression, as well as impact your health, weight, work performance, and sex life. But there’s no need to live in a dog-tired state. Assuming you’re logging seven to nine hours of sleep time (and if you aren’t, that’s what you need to address first), Consumer Reports suggests following these steps, in order, to help you get to the root of your weariness.

Chew on this: Gum loses its pop


Gum seems as appealing as that sticky wad on the bottom of a shoe these days.

It’s not that Americans don’t ever enjoy a stick of Trident or Orbit, the two most popular brands. They just aren’t as crazy about chomping away on the stuff as they once were, with U.S. sales tumbling 11 percent over the past four years.

Kitchen fixes: How much time, money do you have?


Tired of your kitchen, but not ready for a full remodel?

From decluttering the countertops to replacing them completely, there are all sorts of things — at all sorts of price points — you can do to improve your space.

5 tips for saving time in the kitchen


Five to 10 minutes might not sound like much, but when you’re racing to get dinner on the table, that can be the difference between a relaxing family meal and one gobbled down with hardly a “How was your day?” When Consumer Reports surveyed 3,435 of its subscribers about their experiences cooking weeknight meals, almost half said they wished the task took less time.

Consumer Reports offers these keys to preparing faster, tastier meals:

Say ‘I do’ to a wedding budget


While a couple’s devotion to one another may be unlimited, money for their wedding is not. With the average wedding costing just under $30,000 (according to, how does a couple decide where to spend and where to save?

We asked local wedding experts — and one newlywed couple — for their advice. Here are their tips for stretching those wedding dollars.

5 Spot: Remember, you’re both in the same financial boat


Seeing as so many of life’s problems center on dollars and cents, it’s no wonder that money is so often at the root of marital problems. Here are five things to keep in mind when it comes to the green.

— First rule of breadwinner’s club: Don’t talk about bread winner’s club. If you are the primary earner, don’t lord over your spouse. Is she is, don’t make it an issue. You’re in this together.

Seven ways to save money on a gym membership


Joining a gym is an investment in your health, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to trim the cost, says Consumer Reports Money Adviser.

Take time to research your options and consider these ways to save:

Don’t let those fees stack up


Fees! Consumer Reports hates them as much as you do. And not just because all that nickel-and-diming adds up to a pretty penny. It’s also because they can be hard to escape.

Consumers pay $2.4 billion per year in credit card late fees — and $800 million in expedited payment fees to avoid those late charges. We cough up $31 billion annually in debit card overdraft fees. That’s a lot of $30-a-pop penalties for payments that banks authorized in the first place.

7 ways to cut phone costs


You can save hundreds of dollars per year on phone costs by making smart choices, according to Consumer Reports. Here’s how:

— Consider prepaid service. Pay-as-you-go plans used to come with limited service and bare bones phones. Not anymore. Prepaid providers now have more smartphones, and some offer fast 4G connections. Consumer Reports’ subscribers gave those services some of its highest scores for satisfaction. If you’re not a marathon talker, texter or Web surfer, you’ll usually come out ahead by paying only for what you use. You’ll probably pay more upfront for a phone if you don’t sign a two-year contract, but the savings on service can more than make up for that over time.

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