Contest time: Tell Ms. Cheap how you are spiffying up your porch, patio or balcony


In honor of Ms. Cheap’s 25th anniversary of her column, the Cheapest of the Cheap contest is back, and you can enter today.
Autumn Allison, Nashville Tennessean

One of my most vivid childhood memories is the time I enjoyed on my grandparents’ Senatobia, Mississippi, front porch.

The spacious porch, which spanned the front of their turn of the century wood-frame house, was just a few doors from the Tate County Courthouse and a block and a half from downtown Senatobia.

With no air conditioning, I spent untold hours sitting in the white painted swing (my favorite spot) with my grandmother, shelling peas, or just swinging and talking and watching folks walk or drive by.  

A rite of spring would be when my grandfather, Grandy, would climb up a ladder with a can of 3-in-One oil to grease the swing’s chains at the top to keep the squeaking to a minimum.

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Every now and then, the swing would get a fresh coat of white paint, and the wooden porch floor a welcome dose of Confederate gray stain to spruce things up for our spring and summer porch sitting.

The only adornment on the porch was the set of my grandmother’s carefully tended matching fern stands on either side of the front door, which would spread their lush fronds all the way to the floor. 

Wonderful memories. There is something just so Southern and comfortable about sitting on a well-maintained porch.

So, with spring just around the corner (hopefully) and the long-awaited porch-sitting season that comes with it, we decided to have a Ms. Cheap Porch, Patio and Balcony Makeover contest.

My goal is to get lots of creative ideas for spiffying up a porch, or patio or balcony without spending a wad of money.

Here’s what I am looking for:

Send me a before and after picture or a detailed plan of your makeover project, along with a full description of the changes you are making or have made, and how much your project cost.

I’d love lots of details about how you did it, and any potential pitfalls or challenges you faced, in case other readers want to use your idea. 

Can’t wait to see what you come up with. And you can enter more than one idea. 

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Submit your entries at

The deadline for entries is March 3, and the top prize is a $100 gift certificate to the Habitat ReStore, and four tickets to the Nashville Home and Remodeling Expo

► Got other great money-saving ideas? Enter the 2019 Ms. Cheap Cheapest of the Cheap contest

About the show

The Nashville Home and Remodeling Expo will be at Music City Center March 15-17, with exhibits, industry personalities and the latest trends in home improvement, including remodeling, kitchen and bath, windows, flooring and more. 

Ms. Cheap will be speaking at noon on Friday, March 15, in a QA session. Home renovation experts Kortney and Dave Wilson of HGTV’s “Music City Fix” will be on stage at 6 p.m. Friday, March 15, and 1 p.m. Saturday, March 16. Other presenters include interior designer Jennifer Davenport, interior decorator Bohnne Jones and floral designer Ethan Shane.

Exhibitors include companies offering products and services in everything from lighting, kitchen, bath, windows and doors, to elevators, landscaping, home decor, closet organization, swimming pools and spas.

Tickets are $11 but you can save $2 per ticket if you buy online. 

For discount tickets and other information, see or call 1-800-395-1350.

Reach Ms. Cheap at 615-259-8282 or Follow her on Facebook at, and at, and on Twitter @Ms_Cheap, and catch her every Thursday at 11 a.m. on WTVF-Channel 5’s “Talk of the Town.”

‘Financial Planning for College’ session at Camden library

CAMDEN — The Camden Public Library will hold its “Financial Planning for College” session at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 14, at 55 Main Street. Future college students and their parents are welcome to ask questions and learn about the steps involved in planning.

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If saving money is your goal, focus on one behavior at a time

Popular science claims it takes anywhere between 21 and 66 days to form a habit.

To change one habit is simply to create a new behavior in its place. These habit-changing tips can work to create new habits for your health, finances or any behavior you want to improve — like listening better, working harder or maintaining a more positive attitude.


Before you can start changing a behavior, you need to get familiar with it. If the habit you want to change is to save more money, first you’ll have to figure out where your money is going that isn’t savings.

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Targeting a habit gives you a focus, instead of trying to change everything at once. Once you get an idea of the current patterns, choose one to alter. Let’s stick with the same idea of savings. After observing your spending, you may notice that you spend your extra income on both entertainment and online shopping. Instead of saying you’ll cut both out in favor of saving, either cut one out or cut each in half by 50 percent.


Figure out how well your new habit is forming by tracking. Where you once saw $100 going toward online purchases and $0 into savings, you should now see $50 contributed to each.


Choose a reasonable deadline to establish your new habit. Then sit down and see how your habit has changed. You can define what success looks like to you. If there isn’t very much difference between what your habit was at the beginning versus what you’re tracking now, try to find something else to target. But if you feel like you’ve accomplished what you set out to, head on to another habit.

So if you’re like most people and your 2019 resolution has already started to waiver — most are totally abandoned by this point in the year already — maybe choose one habit to tackle and follow these steps. It’s all about the progress, not perfection.

Kat’s Money Corner is posted on Dollars Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, visit

CFP Board and Foundation for Financial Planning Honor the University of Georgia with the Inaugural Pro Bono Award

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards and the Foundation for Financial Planning (FFP) today announced the first-ever recipient of the CFP Board and Foundation for Financial Planning Excellence in Pro Bono Award the University of Georgia (UGA).

“Pro bono work is critical to the advancement of the financial planning profession. The University of Georgia is putting its students on the right path – in school and in their future financial planning careers – by making pro bono a central part of its program,” said Kevin R. Keller, CAE, CFP Board’s Chief Executive Officer. “The program is to be commended for giving its students this first-hand, real world experience of helping others that will serve them well in their own careers as financial planners.”

University of Georgia financial planning students participated in client-facing service activities through the ASPIRE Clinic and the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to provide “pro bono financial planning and tax filing and services that increase the financial stability and capability of hundreds of individuals and families.”

Through collaboration with program faculty, as well as nutrition, legal, and counseling departments across the campus, UGA students were able to meet a need in their community for financial awareness and stability.

In 2018, the UGA VITA program helped clients claim more than $1.6 million in federal and state tax refunds and saved clients nearly $200,000 in tax preparation and filing fees. Clients also received financial planning help in understanding retirement savings and strategies and employee benefits, giving them a foundation for long-term financial stability.

“We are very grateful to receive this inaugural award and thank both CFP Board and the Foundation for Financial Planning for their dedication to the education of the next generation of financial planners and to the advancement of pro bono financial planning,” said Joseph Goetz, Ph.D., co-founder of the University of Georgia’s pro bono financial planning program and UGA financial planning professor. “Our students are choosing the path of becoming financial planners because they want to help people. Serving their communities through pro bono work demonstrates their commitment to helping those in need. For the past decade, the UGA ASPIRE Clinic and VITA program provided unparalleled experiential learning opportunities for our students and increased the financial stability and capability of thousands of individuals and families. The University of Georgia’s financial planning program is committed to continuing to be a leader in experiential learning and pro bono work and helping many more people in the decades to come.”

The award is given to an academic institution registered with CFP Board to provide the coursework requirement for CFP® certification. Qualifications for the award include a demonstration by the academic institution of exemplary pro bono work that benefits both their students and their community. A call for nominations and eligibility criteria was announced in July 2018.

The award was announced today at the 2019 CFP Board Registered Program Conference. The University of Georgia will receive a $5,000 grant, sponsored by Dalton Education, to be used toward future pro bono activities.

The Foundation for Financial Planning is the nation’s only nonprofit organization solely dedicated to advancing pro bono financial planning, supporting a variety of programs that match volunteer CFP® professionals to at-risk people who otherwise couldn’t access sound financial advice. CFP® professionals and other financial planners work with these vulnerable individuals and families to help them with their finances and create a plan of action that will lead to better financial outcomes.

“There is no greater calling than helping people in need, and the University of Georgia has set an example for its students and others through their innovative pro bono program,” said Jon Dauphiné, Chief Executive Officer of FFP. “The financial planning program at the University of Georgia has fully integrated pro bono work and made it a central tenet of its curriculum. This should be commended as it shows students the powerful impact they can have in the community by using the knowledge they have gained in the classroom.”

About the Registered Programs Conference

The conference will bring together program directors and faculty from institutions that deliver professional financial planning education for individuals pursuing CFP® certification, offering opportunities to connect with each other and with firms to share best practices for strengthening the talent pipeline. The student track will explore topics such as the path to CFP® certification, pro bono financial planning and trending issues in financial planning. CFP Board Registered Programs are offered at regionally-accredited colleges and universities who have met specific criteria for educating individuals pursuing CFP® certification. Individuals who meet CFP Board’s coursework requirement through a registered program are eligible to sit for the CFP® Certification Examination. CFP Board partners with over 330 programs at more than 200 institutions.


Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. is the professional body for personal financial planners in the U.S.  CFP Board sets standards for financial planning and administers the prestigious CFP® certification – one of the most respected certifications in financial services – so that the public has access to and benefits from competent and ethical financial planning.  CFP Board, along with its Center for Financial Planning, is committed to increasing the public’s awareness of CFP® certification and consumers’ access to a diverse, ethical and competent financial planning workforce. Widely recognized by consumer advocates and firms as the standard for financial planning, CFP® certification is held by more than 83,000 people in the United States.


The Foundation for Financial Planning, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is the nation’s only nonprofit solely devoted to supporting the delivery of pro bono financial planning to vulnerable people, including wounded veterans, domestic violence survivors, people with serious medical diagnoses, and many others. Dedicated to Powering Pro Bono Financial Planning, the Foundation has provided $7 million in grants to community-based nonprofits to support local programs; worked with partners to activate more than 20,500 volunteer financial planners to serve their communities; and acted as a leader and catalyst to embed a rich tradition of and commitment to pro bono across the financial planning profession. Visit to learn more. 

SOURCE Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards

Financial Lessons Americans Have Learned From the Past 10 Years

Being financially sound often takes learning hard lessons along the way. With help from MarketWatch and we take a look at 15 financial lessons Americans have learned over the past decade. (The lesson on page 7 will surprise you.)

1. Managing stress will help you financially

Tired and stressed | seb_ra/ iStock/ Getty Images

“Virtually all of my worst spending mistakes in 2018 were during situations where I was stressed out and feeling completely overworked,” Trent Hamm of says. He suggests working on alleviating your stress first, before you try throwing money at your problems.

Next: No-fun zone …

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Sustainable Buffs: 5 ways to save money by living green

Woman cutting up cilantro in kitchenLiving sustainably often comes with an added bonus—saving money. Even better, most of these actions don’t require much additional effort, and you can earn prizes with the PIPs mobile app! Here are five ways to save money, and earn more PIPs, by living green.

Get thrifty

Looking to update your wardrobe or living space? Need to find a gift for a friend or family member? In the market for new skis? Thrift stores and consignment shops are the perfect place to score unique finds and save money. Some second-hand shops have special sales and deals where you can get items even cheaper. Grab a friend or two and enjoy bargain hunting at some of the best shops in Boulder.

With the rise of online marketplaces, you may not even need to visit a thrift store to find great secondhand items. If you arrange to meet up with someone to buy or sell an item, be sure to use the Online Safe Exchange Zone offered by CU Boulder police and Parking Services.

Spend more time in the kitchen

Cooking food at home helps cut down on waste and save money in the process. For affordable, healthy and delicious meal ideas, we recommend using the free cookbook Good and Cheap. You can also review these six ways to eat healthy on a budget. If you are able to shop organic items, consider replacing conventional produce on the “dirty dozen” list.

Turn down your thermostat

If you pay your own energy bill, you’ve probably seen how costs can increase when temperatures lower. One easy way to save money is to turn down your thermostat when you aren’t home or when you go to sleep. A programmable thermostat can make this process even simpler—check with your property manager about installing one.

Setting up an ECO-Visit, where CU student technicians visit your home and install energy- and money-saving upgrades free of charge, can help. If you live on-campus, sign up for the Green Home Certification to learn more ways to save money, energy and get free swag.

For the month of February, PIPs users can earn up to 1,000 PIPs when they complete an ECO-Visit or Green Home Certification!

Reuse and get a discount

Most coffee shops, including Starbucks, Method Roasters and The Bakery on campus, offer a discount when you bring in your own mug. Reusable grocery bags are also particularly helpful in Boulder and can help you avoid the tax charged on plastic bags.

Take the bus or bike

Between gas, parking permits, maintenance and repairs, cars can get expensive. Choosing to take the bus with your free College Pass or ride your bike can help you keep more of your savings. Plus, when you register your bike, you can take advantage of free bike maintenance services at the bike stations.

Sustainable Buffs is a new series brought to you by the Environmental Center. Learn more sustainability tips and ways to get involved at

Why Do I Keep Secrets From My Financial Planner?


“What is your height and weight?”

“Tell me what medications you take.”

“What exactly do you call your eye condition?”

These are just a few of the questions posed to me recently by a colleague who was helping me apply for an insurance policy. It was his job to gather all my health history so the insurance company could decide if I was someone they wanted to insure.

After the small talk and laughter, our call took a sharp turn toward the personal. This didn’t exactly come as a surprise. I knew he would need to know these things. I also knew that each time he asked, “have you ever had a history of…?” the best answer was a definitive no. After answering yes more than once, I noticed a few worrisome thoughts running through my mind. Maybe I’m not as healthy as I think I am. Am I going to be denied coverage? Does this guy think I’m a total freak?

As the questions continued, I started noticing and interpreting his every pause and exhale. When he said “mmhmm” I wondered what the heck that was supposed to mean. I thought by the end of the call he would tell me whether I was an underwriting train wreck, but instead he just thanked me, agreed to get back in touch and politely got off the phone.

When I hung up, I was caught off guard by how I felt. I hadn’t been nervous to have the call. I was familiar with how underwriting worked. After all, I’ve been the impetus for many people to apply for insurance over the years and had been alongside them through the process. Nevertheless, I felt exposed. Outside of the doctor’s office, I’d never had to share my health history with anyone, much less someone with whom I had a professional relationship. It’s just not what you generally talk about with people.

That’s when it occurred to me; I must be feeling the same way that most people do when they talk to a financial planner.

Being on my side of the table, it doesn’t feel at all strange or uncomfortable to talk about how much money someone makes, how much debt they have or who they want in their will. Of course, that’s easy because it’s not about me and my choices. When it is own our financial life up for discussion, the process can range from slightly uncomfortable to downright invasive.

We could chalk it up to money being a taboo topic in our society, but I don’t really think our hesitation is about whether it’s tasteful to talk about money with a financial planner. That explanation diminishes the emotional weight of the situation. Our hesitation is driven by two much bigger fears: the fear that we are royally messing up our financial life and that we are going to be judged for it.

By the time we meet with a financial planner, we have inevitably been forced to make loads of financial choices on our own. We decided what career to pursue, when and how much to save, what home and car we could afford or how to invest our 401(k). We made the best decisions we could, but we never had the financial context to know how these decisions might ultimately free us or limit us in the future. Of course, we hope the decisions we made will set ourselves up for success, but we also fear that maybe they won’t.

It’s easy to put those thoughts aside in the hustle of daily life, but the moment we sit down with an advisor, we know our decisions will be on full display. With nothing more than our entire life’s happiness at stake, we sit down to learn how we’ve done. Are we headed toward the good life or do we need to make wholesale changes to get back on track? If it’s the latter, we often feel disappointed, not just with the outcome, but with ourselves.

When sharing our story could result in both shame and a prescription for change, is it any wonder we avoid meeting with an advisor or try to paint a rosy picture when we do?

Now layer on top of that the fear that our advisor might judge us. Because money touches so many parts of our lives, financial planning involves sharing more than account balances and savings rates. A discussion on college might reveal that we disagree with our spouse about how much to pay. A review of our estate plan might uncover that we are estranged from a family member. An analysis of our insurance coverage might expose that we’ve battled addiction. A cash flow projection might shine a light on a spending issue.

We’re expected to open up about the most personal and private matters in our lives; the things we intentionally don’t talk about because we don’t want to be vulnerable to judgment from others. And we’re not telling just anyone; we’re confessing to a person we (hopefully) like and respect and who might seem like they have their life together more than we do. Our natural desire to maintain a positive regard in our planner’s eyes makes it all the more difficult to share.

The point here isn’t to send us running and screaming away from financial planning, but to highlight the courage it takes to find out how we’re doing financially and share the necessary information it takes to help our advisor be effective. FDR said “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” If we can focus on how much we want to put our kids through college, start a business, buy our dream home, retire on the beach or just make sure we never have to sustain on Ramen noodles, hopefully we’ll make it passed the uncomfortable nerves at the beginning of the process. If that doesn’t work, keep in mind that if everyone who walked into a financial planner’s office was already doing everything right, they (and I) would all be out of a job.

On the Ballot in Nigeria: How to Manage Oil Money

When Nigerians vote for their next president on Saturday, they face a choice between two candidates with different visions for the oil sector, which accounts for more than half of the government’s revenue.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who is also minister of petroleum, has called for increasing efficiency in the oil industry in Nigeria, Africa’s top crude producer, as he seeks reelection on an anticorruption and security platform that helped him win in 2015.

Save time and money by changing your screen habits

This article is reprinted by permission from NerdWallet.


AAPL, -0.71%

  Screen Time feature can tell you more about your iPhone usage than you may care to know.

Like how many text notifications you received, the number of hours you spent on social networking and how your total usage on any given day stacks up against your average.

The numbers don’t lie, but they can be surprising. If you find yourself wasting too much of your day on your phone or tablet, here are some ideas for how to use your time and devices for something more productive — like saving money.

Double-click on your usage

First, be honest about how many hours you spend staring at a screen.

Mike Johansson, a senior lecturer in communication at Rochester Institute of Technology, has asked his students to keep track of how they spend their time.

Also see: Here’s why you’re getting so many spam phone calls

“Over time, I had a few students who came back to me and said, ‘I was amazed. I didn’t realize that over the course of a week I was averaging three to four hours on YouTube every day.’ It adds up,” Johansson says.

Once you’ve tracked your habits or checked your phone’s tally of your usage, make some judgment calls about which activities are (or are not) a good use of your time.

Double down on your apps

If you can’t put down your phone completely, try switching the applications you use most frequently. If you’re going to be on your phone, you might as well make it worthwhile, right?

Don’t miss: The cities with the most freebies

Instead of opening YouTube, Instagram or Facebook

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 , here are some of the apps and tools that can be a more effective use of your screen time:

  • Financial accounts. Download and check the apps for your various financial accounts. “The first app people should sign in to every day is their bank’s app and any credit card apps they use,” Robert P. Finley, a certified financial planner and the principal of Virtue Asset Management in Illinois, said in an email. “First, this process will help them better understand their daily spending, and second, help them keep an eye out for any fraud.”
  • Budgeting apps. Similarly, budgeting apps like Mint and PocketGuard can assist in keeping your spending in check. Use these regularly to get a better handle on your cash flow and how much money you’re devoting to each category of your budget.
  • Organizers. Organization tools like Evernote and OmniFocus can help, too. Open up these apps to create shopping lists to prevent you from buying extra things you don’t need, or to-do lists to ensure you pay all of your bills on time.
  • Coupon finders. Coupon apps, including and CouponCabin, compile coupons free. Take the time to consult these before shopping to lower the amount of money you’re spending on life’s necessities, such as groceries or household supplies.
  • Cash-back sites. Take the extra step to use cash-back websites such as Ebates and BeFrugal to earn money back on purchases you’re already making.
  • Freebies. Sure, social media is free, but there are other free apps that could be more educational. Libby, for example, is a reading app that uses your library card to access e-books and audiobooks free.
Double-check the clock

While these apps are helpful, it can be freeing to cut down your screen time completely. And contradictory as it sounds, your phone can actually help you limit the amount of time you spend on your phone.

Some apps help you stay off your device altogether. Flipd, for example, calls itself a “digital nudge” to discourage phone usage. Download the app to lock yourself out of your downloaded apps for a certain period, says Alanna Harvey, co-founder of Flipd.

“Flipd is a productivity and time management app that people use to help motivate themselves to not get distracted by their phones when they should be doing other tasks more mindfully like studying, reading and spending quality time with family and friends,” Harvey says.

If saving money is your goal, you can add financial management to that list of things to do in the real (not virtual) world. If it helps, get off your phone and spend some time with an old-fashioned paper budget, calculator, your credit card statement and checkbook.

And perhaps most important, start by changing your mind-set. You don’t have to be tethered to your phone.

“Once upon a time, people literally would call your house, and if you weren’t there, they would call back later,” Johansson says.

More from NerdWallet:

Courtney Jespersen is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: Twitter: @CourtneyNerd.

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