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Financial Planner Basics

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 592)
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What is financial planning, and why it is crucial for you.

Even if you do not think you are a financial planner, you better start thinking like one fast. In the United States, there is an approximate of 5.6 million people who are either self-made millionaires or financially independent. And what is so hard to believe about that statistic, you ask? This is because that is only about 5% of the American population.

The remaining 95% of the American population (we're talking about 106.4 million people here!) are not only not rich, but most of them are facing financial disasters, either owing to poor financial planning or foolish spending!. This is why you should start thinking like a financial planner. Financial planning is not so complicated, and it can make a huge difference in your life.

As the saying goes, "failing to plan is planning to fail". Much of the same can be said if you do not plan your finances well, it does not matter if you are a high earner, you still need financial planner skills, to keep you form harms way and to ensure that your life will be financially secured.

The fact of the matter is that financial planning Is Not An Option, most of us need to think ahead today, and you should practice your financial planner skills right away to enjoy the money you make today in the future.

The basics of financial planning is to keep all your finance in order, this is very basic advice, alright. However, more often than not, we would rather concentrate on other things in life such as health, studies, work and more.

Think about the things you want to achieve in life, and how you are going to get there, financial planner always set his goals and puts some order in his thought before starting to actually put the wheels in motion. Financial planning can include buying a house, paying for your children education and thinking about a retirement fund.

Financial planning will help you use your current pay check and your saving to start working on a program that will give you peace of mind on the financial level, a financial planner will plan a budget according to every household's expenditure budgeted and a savings plan drawn up, this will help you spend your money wisely and effectively.

A financial planner will consider having savings invested in an investment vehicle that pays higher returns than the normal bank account, it will add in some muscle to your savings and help you reach your financial goals in a shorter period of time.

By starting your retirement planning now (not later!), you can gauge how much money you will need to maintain your current lifestyle and where this money will come from. Many people, especially those who have just started working, always put their retirement planning on the back burner for reasons such as "I just started work" and "Oh, I am still young".

Many, however, fail to realize that by starting early to save for retirement, you will be able to save and invest more due to the magic of "compounding interest", provided that you invest your savings wisely. Maybe you do not have to wait until the age of 65 to retire. For all you know, by the age of 40, you might have already reached your financial independence and do not have to worry about getting up early to clock in or work until late hours because there are deadlines to meet.

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Credit Card Debt And Interest

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 352)
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Credit card debt is one of the leading cause for needing to file for bankruptcy or take out mortgage loans on your home or other drastic measures. Studies indicate that credit card debt is slowly making a consumers financial situation bad or worse than ever before, and can also cause psychological depression and contribute to lower GPA's and increased substance abuse among college students. Credit card debt can build up quickly, especially if you have more than one card and a habit of charging everything.

Interest

The interest is the money paid on a balance to a lender by the borrower, which is to be paid every month, if you roll over your balance from month to month. Interest doesn't usually go down on its own, and when only minimum payments are made your balance can grow to un-manageable amounts. If you are late on a payment your interest rates can increase to 35 percent, making it very hard to pay off balances. With interest rates still on the rise, there's no better time to take a good close look at your finances.

Payment

Debt, especially credit card debt can accumulate very fast and many people soon find themselves barely able to even make the minimum payments. Remember if you are late on only one payment, your rate could increase drastically. If you are not good at remembering payments, it's wise to set up direct debits to pay your credit card bills. It's always best to control your spending and try to pay more than the required minimum payment whenever possible.

The main problem with credit cards is that they make it very easy for you to spend money. The most important step take to reduce credit card debt is to not use your credit card for every little thing, use cash whenever possible. Studies show credit card debt is higher for males than female debtors, and even higher for joint accounts. The problem with carrying credit card debt is that the interest on the card will typically accrue much quicker when you only make minimum payments.

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Understanding The Importance Of Your Credit Score

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 1645)
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As recent as a few years back, the term "Credit Score" was not very commonly used in our society. While there were who understood the term and its purpose, the mass majority, although realizing that there was a system out there that their credit, they did not have a term to stick to it.

Today, however, due to a number of factors such as increase Identity Theft and mass media marketing campaigns there are very few who are not aware of the term Credit Score. The goal of this article is to add understanding on the personal to the recognition of that term.

A Credit Score is a number between 300 and 850 based on a statistical analysis of an individual's credit activity. It is used to represent the credit worthiness of an individual. How likely that the individual will pay his or her debts. A credit score is based on their credit report information which is typically sourced from credit bureaus and credit reference agencies, typically from the three major credit bureaus.

Lending institutions, such as banks, finance companies, mortgage lenders, and credit card companies, use an individual's Credit Score to evaluate the potential risk posed by lending money to that individual. Lenders use Credit Scores to determine who qualifies for a loan, at what interest rate the loan is issued, and what credit limits are determined.

The use of credit scoring prior to granting credit is a trusted system throughout the industry. Credit scoring is not limited to banks, however. Organizations, such as mobile phone companies and government departments employ the same techniques.

While there are many others, such as NextGen, VantageScore and the CE Score, The most widely known score in the United States is FICO, which is most widely used in the mortgage industry. FICO is an acronym for Fair Isaac Corporation, the company that provides the most well-known and most widely used credit scoring system in the United States.

The FICO score is calculated by applying statistical methods, developed by Fair Isaac, to information in one's credit file and is primarily used in the consumer banking and credit industry. FICO scores show how likely it is that a borrower will default. No public information is available to determine what the scores mean in terms of statistics. A separate score, BNI, is used to indicate likelihood of bankruptcy.

As stated, banks and other lending institutions use Credit Scores as factors in their lending decisions. Whether credit is denied or approved, what interest is charged, what income level and asset verification is required is all based on an individual's credit score.

The FICO score actually uses slightly different scoring methods to rate a consumer's suitability for three different types of credit; mortgages, auto loans, and consumer credit. Each reflecting the different credit risks of these various types of lending. It is not unusual for these scores to differ by as much 50 points or more for the same borrower.

There are three major credit reporting agencies in the United States. Although often times inaccurately referred to as "credit bureaus", these agencies; Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, also calculate their own credit scores. These additional scores differ depending on what they are meant to predict, what statistical methods used to determine a score, and what information is used and how it is weighted.

These additional Credit Scoring Systems are numerous and are agency specific. For example, Beacon, Beacon 5.0, Beacon 96, and Pinnacle scores are available only from Equifax. Empirica, Empirica Auto 95, Precision Score, and Precision 03 are available only from TransUnion. And, Fair Isaac Risk Score at Experian.

These various Credit Scores are developed for the different agencies by Fair Isaac, each differs and are periodically updated to reflect current consumer repayment behavior habits. The NextGen Score is a scoring model designed for consumers.

In an effort to make credit scoring more consistent across the board, in 2006 the big three credit reporting agencies introduced Vantage Score. Vantage Score uses a different number range from the FICO score. It ranges from 501 to 990 and also assigns letter grades from A to F to specific ranges of scores.

A consumer's Vantage Score may differ from agency to agency, but the difference would be entirely due to differences in the information reported to the various agencies, not due to differences in scoring systems. Since FICO is still widely used by lenders, the agencies continue to offer FICO scores (or their closest equivalent) as well.

Most credit scores use a multiple-scorecard design. Each version may use individual scorecards, and an individual potential borrower is typically compared with other previous borrowers. In other words, a borrower with one 30-day late payment will be scored against a population with some similar delinquency. A borrower with two 30-day late payments will be scored against a population with like credit faults. The individual is then graded according to which variables indicate a risk within that group.

Nearly all large banks also build and use their own systems for credit scoring purposes, and are often times in conjunction with outside scoring formulas.

The systems used to generate credit scores are subject to federal regulations. The Federal Reserve Board's Regulation B, which implements the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, expressly prohibits a credit scoring system from considering any "prohibited basis" such as race, color, religion, national origin, sex, or marital status. It also stipulates that credit scoring systems must be "empirically derived" and "statistically sound".

In addition, if an adverse action, a denial of a credit application, is taken as a result of the credit score then the specific reasons for the denial must be provided to the individual denied. The statement "credit score not high enough" is insufficient. The reasons for denial must be specific; "too many delinquencies 60 days or greater" and such.

Credit scores are designed to measure the risk of default by taking into account various factors in a person's financial history. Although the exact formulas for calculating credit scores are closely guarded secrets, the Fair Isaac Corporation has disclosed the following components and the approximate weighted contribution of each:

35% punctuality of payment in the past (30 Days Past Due)

30% the amount of debt, expressed as the ratio of current revolving debt to total available revolving credit

15% length of credit history

10% types of credit used

10% recent search for credit and/or amount of credit obtained recently

These percentages offer a limited guidance in understanding a credit score. For example, the 10% of the score allocated to "types of credit used" is undefined, leaving consumers unaware what type of credit mix to pursue. "Length of credit history" is also a murky concept; it consists of multiple factors two being the oldest account open and the average length of time an account has been open.

Interestingly, although only 35% is attributed to punctuality, if a consumer is substantially late on numerous accounts, his score will fall far more than 35%. Bankruptcies, foreclosures, and judgments affect scores substantially, but are not included in the very vague pie chart provided by Fair Isaac.

A FICO score generally has a max of 850 and a minimum of 300. It exhibits a left-skewed distribution with a median around 723. The performance of the scores is monitored and the scores are periodically aligned so that a lender normally does not need to be concerned about which score card was employed.

Because the three major credit agencies have their own, independent databases, each of us actually has three credit scores for any given scoring system. As these databases are independent of each other, they may contain entirely different data. Many lenders will check an applicant's score from each bureau and use the median score to determine the applicant's credit worthiness.

As a result of the FACT Act (Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act), each legal U.S. resident is entitled to one free copy of his or her credit report from each credit reporting agency once every twelve months. To guard against inaccurate information or fraud more often than yearly, one can request a report from a different credit reporting agencies available on the net.

This information is available from a number of websites across the net that offer an free credit report and use of their services for 30 days. After which, there is a monthly fee involved. The fee is nominal compared to the necessity of protecting your credit in today's highly technological society where identity theft is becoming more prevalent.

In a time where identity theft and credit fraud in on the rise, the fee these firms charge seems like a small amount to pay to protect your credit and your good name. Having a good Credit Score is becoming more and more prevalent in our society. Here are a few examples of how:

In September 2004, TXU (a Texas utility company) announced it would begin setting individualized electricity prices based on credit score. However, due to negative press and pressure from the Texas Public Utility Commission, the plan was not implemented.

Credit scores are often used in determining prices for auto and homeowner insurance. Recently, some of the agencies that generate credit scores have also been generating more specialized insurance scores, which insurance companies then use to rate the quality of potential customers. These scores are unavailable to consumers.

Many employers reserve the right to do a credit check of job applicants, in the same manner they reserve the right to drug test potential employees. The fact is that your Credit Score is important. Rebuild-Credit.us is a sight committed to providing consumers with quality information concerning credit, how to get it, and how to maintain a quality credit score. It is recommended you take the time to visit them and read through the numerous articles and reports there.

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Tips On How To Save Money

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 749)
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Money is an essential element in every body's life. It is the one that we exchange to get all the necessary things in life. And that is exactly the reason why we work all day and sometimes night. Since the flow of money in one's life is not uniform, it is only prudent to save some money for the crunch days. Economics permits one to spend his/her money in any amount as he/she wishes. But how rationally one could plan so as to maintain a minimum level of backup in any given day is directly linked with his/her ability to save.

In daily life, even if we know that we are spending money to buy things we need, most of us tend to over see the fact that more than 50% of the spending is for purposes that are quite unnecessary or those expenditures can be avoided without affecting one's basic life style. Exactly this is the point from where one should start thinking of saving money.

Distinguish between and clearly understand your needs and wants. Needs are those things one require to sustain his/her basic needs. Want on the other hand refers to anything that is not an absolute necessity but which presence enhances one's way of life. For example, a car can be a need but a $40,000 SUV is a want.

It is a human nature to insist on the best and the biggest even if the same quality is available at a lower cost. Spending $100 in a posh restaurant when one can afford the same sumptuous meal at $20 or buying a $20 shirt with a $30 trendy label attached all belong to this category of "keeping up with the Joneses". A bit of intelligent spending here can save a lot.

It is a good idea to try a commodity and get a feel of it before actually buying one. Because there is no point in buying something you may never use or hardly use. Such an analysis is relevant especially when the item under consideration is a costly one. Rent one, borrow one, and try one out before making the final call.

Mortgages can easily be the biggest single expense most families have in their monthly budget. Here, zeroing on the best deal is where the trick lies. Calculated comparisons can make a difference of few thousand dollars in the entire deal. Another big expense is linked with the vehicles a person owns. One should see if he/she is getting the best deal on the maintenance, insurance and repairs.

True, food is a need as well as a recurring expense. Keeping a check over the money spend on food - to a necessary extend - can make a big difference in the money one could save at the end of the month. Plan food purchases in advance, go for generics or store brands and stock up the items that you regularly use when available on sale.

Another expenditure that drains a lot of money is one's fascination for clothes. Unlike electronic goods, the price of clothes is continuously on an upward spiral. Hence it is a good idea to buy quality clothes that lasts a longer period. Such clothes are better than the 'throw away' types. The cost of clothes is not going to come down either. Therefore, buying in advance for a season ahead is a logical correct step. But never over do it. Getting clothes for 5 years in advance is stupid!

Telephone is a common thing in every house hold. This is one department where money drains like an open tap. Though local phone service has a fixed price long distance calls matters. Shop around to find out the best deal as far as the service provider is concerned. Keep in mind, a saving of $16.75 a month can add up to $200 a year.

If you are a travel addict, travel expenses can make a big difference if not having the right travel agent. Even if it is the same place, airline, hotel or car rental, the difference between two travelers can easily exceed $1000. Keep one's eyes and ears open when hunting for a traveler.

Remember, saving money is not putting all the dollars that one earns in his/her savings account. But it is all about intelligently spending the bucks, at the same keeping a check on all the unnecessary expenses. Good Luck!

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How Is Your Budget For The Holidays

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 325)
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Most people have tried it - spending more on the holidays than intended. I comes as a surprise again an again. What is it with money and budgets that do not work? People split up because of money. It is an invisible force from our subconscious mind that tricks us to buy stuff we can not afford at a given moment.

The best way to stop spending too much money over the holidays, is to set a budget for how much you can spend, especially for gifts, and then stick with it, no matter what. Even if you subconscious mind tells you it is okay.

Do it outside the holidays too, people should keep a rein on their spending there as well. If you do it at all times it should be no problem in the holidays as well.

Sixty-one percent of Americans either does not have an annual household budget or feel it is difficulty to stick with it. Out of those who have tried to keep a household budget, fifty percent gave up trying to follow it. Your subconscious mind is doing its thing even if you do not like it.

The best way to maintain financial discipline might be to stop using credit cards. If you know you do not have enough money to buy something and pay for it this month, then maybe you should not buy it at all. Without a credit card in your pocket, you can not be tricked by your own mind to buy anything.

Maybe you have doubts whether you should spend anything on the holidays or not. Is it not just an industry game that is way too expensive for regular people? I think not, don't be afraid. You can get tons of great stuff that is not too expensive and that will bring joy and smiles in the house.

Have fun and thank you for your time.

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Save Money On Products You Buy Every Day

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 408)
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Shopping with online coupons can help you save money on things you use every day. Online coupons sites offers hundreds of coupons that can help you save on items such as vitamins, auto parts and children's clothing. Best of all, there's no sales tax. You can often find free shipping and you will save yourself a lot of hassle between high gas prices and long lines at the checkout counter.

Savings for health-related products discounted with coupons at simplybestcoupons.com range from "buy-one-get-one-free" offers to steep price cuts - as high as eighty percent. Retailers in the health and beauty section include Drugstore.com, The Vitamin Shoppe and the House Of Nutrition. Remember to bookmark the health and beauty section of your online coupons rather than bookmarking the individual company's page - your discounts come thanks to the affiliate linking system set up by agreement between the two websites. Don't get cheated out of your discount! Once you're used to using online coupons, this will be a breeze.

Your "daily use" product purchases with online coupons may change weekly depending on the specials being offered at that particular time. Some online coupons never expire, and you can keep using your coupon until the retailer decides to change offers, or the rules stipulate a limit on the number of purchases.

You may gravitate towards certain kind of products that you buy with online coupons, but be sure to check out the other offers. The Children's section, for example, has great money-savers on products from the Crayola Store, Jostens class ring service and many others. You may not need these products right away, but sooner or later the time may come and you'll be glad you bookmarked those pages too.

There are plenty of great coupons available for things you least expect. Ever thought you'd save money on replacement checks with an internet coupon? It's true - a company called Checks Unlimited offers a deal for a low price (per box) and your fourth box of checks comes free - just for clicking the proper link. Another great find is the Franklin Covey store. Now you can get discounted office supplies for the home office, school or your 9-5 workplace.

Online coupons are a great innovation; your savings can start immediately, you save gas and get all your purchases delivered right to your door or PO box. Don't pay full price ever again!

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Oprah S Debt Diet What It Is And How You Can Benefit From It

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 893)
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In February 2006, Oprah Winfrey challenged her television viewers and all other Americans to get out of debt. If you are currently suffering from debt than you know that it is difficult to overcome. That is why Oprah and a number of financial experts developed the Oprah Debt Diet.

Oprah's Debt Diet includes a step-by-step guide on overcoming debt. It is important to note that getting out of debt will not happen over night. That is why Oprah's step-by-step guide is important because it helps debt ridden individuals change their daily habits over time. If you are currently searching for a way out of debt you are encouraged to read on and learn a few of the steps in Oprah's Debt Diet.

Step # 1 - Determine Exactly How Much Debt You Have

This first step is extremely important because it is impossible to get completely out of debt if you are unaware of all of your debt. The easiest way to determine how much debt you owe is by collecting all of your current and overdue bills or by requesting a copy of your credit report. Your credit report can easily be obtained from one of the three main credit bureaus, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.

Step #2 - Eliminate Unnecessary Expenses

Like many other Americans, it is likely that you grab a soda or coffee while at work. Those items are expensive and they quickly add up. Did you know that simply by eliminating unnecessary purchases you could get out of debt a lot quicker than you may have originally thought? Tracking all of your purchases for one week is a great way to know what items you can live without purchasing.

Step #3 - Learn About the Credit Cards You Have

Many Americans are falling victim to late fees, annual fees, and high interest rates without even knowing it. The best way to prevent credit card debt is by knowing how your credit card works. It is also important to know that minimum payments may sound great, but in reality they are a financial death trap because they only keep you in debt longer. If you successfully follow step 2, you could use your extra money to make more than the minimum payments each month.

Step #4 - Learn to Cut Back on Your Spending Habits

Step 2 mentioned eliminating unnecessary purchases. Eliminating unnecessary purchases is a great way to get out of debt, but it can be difficult to do. Individuals who are unable to control their spending habits are encouraged to not carry credit or debit cards with them. If a credit card is used, it is important to make the payments on time and pay as much of it as you can. It is also important not to obtain new credit cards during this time or accept offers of increased spending limits.

Step # 5 - Develop a Monthly Spending Plan

A monthly spending plan, also commonly referred to as budget, is a great way to allocate money to necessary expenses. A monthly budget is the best because it can include holidays, birthdays, and other special events that only occur during certain months. Your budget should include all housing costs and expenses, transportation expenses, other miscellaneous expenses, and the debt that you owe.

Step #6 - Develop Ways to Increase Your Income

When developing a budget, there are many Americans who realize that they do not make enough money to pay for all of their expenses and debt. If you are one of those individuals then you may want to consider finding ways to obtain extra income. Extra income does not necessarily mean having to get a second job. It can also mean altering your lifestyle. The Debt Diet recommends going without a vehicle if possible and relocating if your current home expenses are too high.

Step #7 - Develop a Customized Plan to Get Rid of Your Debt

A customized plan can be developed simply by prioritizing your debt. This means that you will examine all of your debt and determine which debt you need to pay off first. The date of the debt, how much it is, and what can happen if you don't pay it should be examined when deciding what or who to payoff first.

Step #8 - Determine Why You Spend Money and Try to Change It

Many unnecessary purchases are made when individuals are feeling angry or depressed. It is also possible that you are an impulse buyer or that you may have a shopping addiction. Whatever the reason for your unnecessary purchases, there are ways to change it. Sometimes this process may require professional help, but other times it can simply be cured with other activities.

Oprah's Debt Diet worked for the guests on her show and there is no reason why it cannot work for you. As previously mentioned, getting out of debt is difficult and it will not happen over night. If you sway away from any of the above mentioned steps do not give up. Try as many times as it may take. Once you make the steps of the Oprah Debt Diet a part of your daily routine you will be on your way to being debt free.

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Handling Your Money Effectively

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 452)
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There is inflation every year. You cannot stop an increasing in living expenses as prices of consumer goods increasing all the time. Saving money becomes an extremely difficult task to do. Here are some solutions for saving a little so that you can still meet your needs and still find ways to trim off a little for the future.

1. Budget - Get one and stick with it! And set aside at least a small portion for savings while you're at it; savings for your future, your retirement, your education, your vacation, whatever. Head to your local office supply store for planning workbooks or budget sheets to use. Or head to your favorite search engine and type in, "budget planning" for hundreds of sites with articles, free downloads, tips, ebooks and other resources to help with your budget setup and follow up.

2. Plan Ahead - Make sure to plan for emergencies and the unexpected, like an appliance break down or garage door malfunction. Even if you can only set aside $50 or so each monthly, place it in an account and earmark it for this "Miscellaneous" fund. Then when things go wrong, and they will - nothing's perfect - you'll be better prepared.

3. Non Monthly Items - Work out a monthly payment for items that you don't pay monthly and set this up in your regular monthly budget. For example, for items like annual home owner or renter insurance, quarterly water bills and automobile insurance payments and annual trash bills, take the amounts and determine what they would be monthly. Then list the items on your budget log and pull these amounts aside, saving them in your account for those purposes. This way, when the bills hit, you won't be caught off guard and have to scrounge for the payments.

What works well, instead of handling multiple savings accounts for each company owed, is to use index cards and one savings account. Create one index card for each bill. Then simply log the amount you're setting aside on the card and deposit it into your savings account. Keep the index cards with your savings passbook to remind you what the balance covers. The total of all your index cards should equal the balance in your savings account. (Make sure to create an index card for your regular funds that you are saving each month in step one above and a card for your Miscellaneous fund in step two above).

So next time you get paid, take three giant steps forward. Grab your index cards, follow your budget and invest in yourself and your future. Get a grip on your money handling.

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Save Money By Making Your Home Energy Efficient

(category: Personal-Finance, Word count: 374)
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With the increase in energy prices, it's important to know that there are ways to lower your energy bill, maintain the overall comfort of your home and be energy efficient.

There is another big plus to being energy efficient: You help the environment. Using less energy means less air pollution from power plants that burn oil, coal or natural gas. Pollution from these sources can cause respiratory disease, smog and acid rain and contribute to global climate change.

Consumer Federation of America offers these tips on how to be environmentally friendly and save energy in your home.

* Clean or replace the air filters in your home's heating and cooling system regularly. A dirty air filter can increase your energy costs and lead to equipment failure. It's also good to have your systems checked once a year by a licensed professional. Regular maintenance can detect problems early.

* Use light bulbs and fixtures that have earned the Energy Star label - the government's symbol for energy efficiency. Such lighting uses two-thirds less energy and can last up to 10 times longer.

* Install a programmable thermostat. It will automatically adjust the temperature to meet your comfort needs efficiently during different times of the day or week. A programmable thermostat can save you up to $100 a year when properly programmed and used.

* Seal air leaks in your home. Add new weather-stripping and caulking around windows and doors. Caulk and weatherproof all exterior openings for plumbing and electrical service, and look for other openings that need to be sealed, such as attic vents and ducts.

Effective air sealing, combined with the right amount of insulation, can save up to 10 percent on energy bills. And if you're in the market for new windows, look for energy-efficient ones to help keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

* When replacing older, inefficient appliances in your home, look for new ones that have earned the Energy Star label. They meet strict energy-efficiency criteria set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy; use less energy; help prevent air pollution; and reduce energy costs in your home.

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