Money Saving Challenges | Saving and Budgeting | US News

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I saved $20000 in 5 months through sheer luck and no other reason

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  • At the beginning of the year, I had over $35,000 of debt and $749.99 in my savings account. Six months later, I have $20,000 in savings — and not because I was frugal or found a great savings strategy.
  • The reason I have that money is luck: I got a new job with a higher salary and then the coronavirus pandemic provided an opportunity to save thousands by moving back in with my family.
  • Hard work should be enough to yield rewards, but it’s not — building wealth in this country requires luck, privilege, and generational wealth, and it’s time for that to change.
  • Use Blooom to analyze your 401(k) today and see how you can grow your retirement savings »

On January 1, 2020, I had $749.99 in my savings account while carrying over $11,000 in credit card debt and nearly $25,000 in student loan debt. Five months later, I’ve saved $20,000 on a $55,000 salary.

I would like to say I have some money-saving secret to share, or that there’s some universal insight I discovered about how to generate wealth. But the truth is, I don’t. The reason why I have $20,000 today is because the system is rigged.

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I was in debt before I got lucky

My savings story is really more of a debt story and a luck story. It began a couple years ago, when I finished my bachelor’s degree and went straight to graduate school for a PhD.

Doctoral students have their tuition paid for and receive a graduate stipend, which seems like a good deal until you realize that graduate student labor is exploited so that large universities can function.

At many big, state schools, the actual work of educating undergraduate students is farmed out to graduate students, not full-time professors. I received an annual stipend of $17,000 for my labor, and I hovered just above the poverty line. Whenever I had to move for a new job, requiring first and last months’ rent and a security deposit, I accrued more and more credit card debt.

In 2016, I started working at a job that paid $34,000. This was a massive improvement since I was making twice as much as I did before, and I was comfortable, but I still lived paycheck to paycheck. That job required all employees to have a retirement account, so by the time I left my position, I had $8,000 that I didn’t pay attention to. I stopped contributing to the retirement account when it was no longer mandatory and let it collect dust.

I accepted my current position as a visiting professor in 2018 for my highest salary yet of $55,000. But my credit card debt was at its highest levels as well, reaching over $11,000. I felt under water. I was embarrassed and tried to triage, but it felt like no matter how much I paid each month, I still couldn’t make a dent in my total debt. I was torn between trying to save money and trying to pay down my credit cards. I couldn’t successfully do both at the same time.

Over a few months, I managed to save $3,000, so I bought $2,000 in stocks hoping that it would grow. It didn’t. I ended up losing $500 on my first attempt at investing. Then, in 2019, I had a major injury that resulted in me using my credit cards to pay for doctors’ appointments, physical therapy, Lyfts to and from work, and takeout to be delivered because I physically couldn’t stand up to cook for myself. Like many other Americans, even with health insurance, this injury simultaneously depleted my savings and caused my credit card debt to skyrocket.

That’s when I decided that something had to change: 2020 had to be different.

So, in December of 2019, I made up my mind to empty my retirement account once January began. That way I could delay paying the retirement withdrawal tax penalty until Tax Day in 2021. I put around $7,000 towards my debt and $1,000 towards savings. I sold my stocks at a loss and withdrew $1,500. I stopped using my credit cards, started putting $500 into my savings each month, and saved my $1,200 tax refund.

And then I started entertaining the idea of buying a house.

Buying a home was a way to build wealth

Homeownership is one of the bedrocks of building wealth in the US — and like so many other avenues to financial security in the United States, this path was long explicitly foreclosed to Black people. As a young Black woman, the idea of owning a house meant something to me.

As I longingly browsed Zillow in preparation for an upcoming move, I found brand-new, three-bedroom, two-bathroom houses that started at $189,000 in the Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia. Many of the existing homes within my budget were either in need of renovations or older, Victorian models that weren’t appealing to me. I wouldn’t necessarily say I have expensive taste, but many of the newer houses that I liked were well above my means.

When I found out that I could build and customize a house without breaking the bank, it seemed like a steal. I decided to talk to a realtor to learn more so I could set a savings goal for the future. To my surprise, I learned that I wouldn’t actually need a 20% down payment of $37,800. This was a welcome relief to my wallet as that down payment would have been most of my current salary, over half of the median household income in the United States, and entirely out of the question.

Instead, I was told I would “only” need a $5,000 deposit, which was significant, but no longer impossible. With that in mind, I took the plunge and I’m currently in the process of building a new house priced under $210,000. I knew that I would need to save up for closing costs, furniture, and moving expenses, but I was still far away from reaching my target. And then I got lucky.

How luck handed me $20,000 in savings

A year ago, I accepted a position as a tenure-track assistant professor that I’m scheduled to begin on July 1. Jobs in academia are a crapshoot, and I am under no illusions that I got my job offer on my own merits: it was, in part, because I was lucky. No amount of education, experience, charm, or talent can get you a job that, statistically, is nearly impossible to get because there are simply more PhD-holders than available professorships.

Nevertheless, I was offered a salary of $77,000, and during negotiations, I pressed my luck further and asked for $90,000 knowing that they wouldn’t go that high. They countered with an $82,000 salary plus a signing bonus of $8,000, which I didn’t even know was an option on the table. Again: luck. My bonus was supposed to be included in my first paycheck once I officially start next month, but I asked if they could give it to me ahead of schedule, and once more, luckily, they said yes. By early April, I had saved $13,000. And then I got lucky again.

My savings push coincided with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. My classes suddenly switched to an online format and I no longer needed to be physically present on campus, so in April I broke my lease and moved back in with my family out of state.

Thousands of dollars in expenses — rent, groceries, internet, electricity, gas — evaporated or steeply diminished overnight. The CARES Act put my monthly student loan payments into forbearance, so now I don’t have to pay until the fall. It also provided me with a one-time economic stimulus check of $1,200.

I started putting $1,000 from each paycheck into my savings account. Where I was previously struggling to save $2,000 a year, I was now saving $2,000 a month through no actions of my own. The coronavirus has devastated people all over the world; this is a painful time and in no way am I suggesting that it was “lucky” for millions of people to die and lose their jobs. Rather, I’m pointing out that unpredictable events completely out of my control, as well as the unearned privilege of being able to live with my family, allowed me to save an additional $7,000 in the span of three months.

Hard work should merit rewards, but that’s not our reality

Here’s the thing — the conditions that made it possible for me to save so quickly and to start building a house were a series of unforeseeable events that had nothing to do with me. Many of us are shut out of homeownership without our family’s generational wealth or some six-figure job. I have neither. What I had was luck.

You shouldn’t have to be lucky to become financially stable. Hard work should be enough, but it’s not. The fact that that’s the case is a damning reflection of the myth of American meritocracy, and underscores that we need to change how we value, pay, and support workers in all professions.

From January to June, my savings went from $749.99 to $20,000 through pure, unadulterated luck. Any narrative that suggests that folks can save tens of thousands of dollars if they’re savvy enough, or frugal enough, or responsible enough is a lie. It is impossible to build wealth without family support, luck, or some combination of the two. This tells us that the solution to wealth inequality is not simply for the poor to work harder; you cannot budget your way out of poverty. To say otherwise is irresponsible, dangerous, and cruel.

The system is rigged to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. The majority of American workers are employed by companies that use a traditional capitalist model of labor, under which CEOs and executives make millions, if not billions, while paying warehouse stockers, grocery store clerks, and waiters less than $15 an hour.

The middle- and upper-middle classes, too, are victimized under this model. Many of those who comfortably earn $60,000 a year justify enormous income inequality because they’ve been seduced by the impossible possibility of also becoming millionaires or billionaires one day, if they only work hard enough. No executive works thousands of times harder than their employees; no executive can reasonably justify making absurd amounts of money while their lowest-paid workers struggle to feed their families. Popular cultural attitudes have allowed this pervasive trend to go unchecked, all while emphasizing that there’s a special “secret” to upward mobility.

There is no cheat code.

You can’t pull yourself up by the bootstraps if you don’t have boots in the first place. In my case, I stumbled into some boots and they happened to fit. Any economic system that relies on luck, privilege, and generational wealth is deeply flawed. There has to be a better way, and it’s up to us to find it. 

Dr. Nneka D. Dennie is an assistant professor of history. When she’s not in the classroom, you can find her writing about Black feminism, trying new recipes, or watching the latest Netflix craze.

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7 Summer Road Trip Budget Tips | Business | kenoshanews.com

Many U.S. households have put a pause on air travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic and families are instead hitting the open roads to enjoy a getaway while staying safe and saving money this summer. In fact, AAA forecasts that Americans will take 700 million trips this season and road trips will account for 97% of this travel. Car trips will actually see the smallest decrease in travel volume during the pandemic of just 3% year-over-year compared to traveling by plane, which will be down 74%. It is’ clear consumers are itching to take a vacation.

If a summer road trip is on your radar, don’t let the false sense of savings security fool you into blowing your budget. Even though driving is cheaper than flying, it’s still important to mind your budget as every small expense adds up quickly.

Here are seven savvy road trip tips to help you make the most of your summer travels on a budget.

1. Keep financial accounts safe.

Road trippers are often targeted by thieves looking to steal credit card information when they least suspect it. That’s why financial companies take extra precautions to protect customers against fraud, especially if they notice unusual spending activity in new cities or out of state. However, this can be problematic for you if your accounts get locked and you can’t access your money when you need it. You can avoid this scenario by alerting your bank and credit card company ahead of your trip, indicating the various cities you plan to visit.

Paying with cash at rest stops and inspecting any credit card machines for potential tampering are other ways to protect against skimming and fraud when you’re on the road. Let MoneyTips protect your credit and your identity with a free trial.

2. Get a tune up.

Schedule a routine maintenance check on your vehicle before hitting the road so you don’t run into any issues which can put a damper on your trip and also add a monumental roadside assistance bill to your total travel spending. Considering that 40% of passenger cars have at least one under-inflated tire, which can lead to damaged tires and lower fuel efficiency, it’s a good idea to get your car checked out for a small price now than a bigger fee and hassle if something unexpected happens in the middle of nowhere.

3. Pack food and drinks.

Pit stops for gas and restroom breaks are inevitable, but they can also become costly when you pop into the rest area’s mini mart to pick up a few drinks and snacks. Although these small purchases seem harmless, they can add up quickly.

Keep in mind, drinks, snacks, and meals will cost more at such convenience stops. Plan ahead by packing a cooler with water bottles and other drinks plus some sandwiches or other snacks to help lower your total food cost on the road. When it comes to fast food breaks, you can often find coupons for chain restaurants so run a quick search on your phone to see if any deals exist.

4. Stretch your gas dollars.

Budgeting for hotels and activities is a no brainer when planning your road trip, but a lot of people overlook the total they will spend on fuel during their travels. Budgeting for this expense is important, but you can also save by knowing where to fuel up for less. For instance, the GasBuddy app can help you pinpoint the best-priced gas stations wherever you go, usually those a bit off the highway.

It’s also a good idea to keep cash handy as you could pay 10-cents more per gallon when swiping a credit card. Don’t forget to sign up for grocery and gas reward programs to earn discounts on fuel. For instance, Exxon Mobil Rewards+ offers discounts on fuel based on your spending, while, Shell Fuel Rewards offers cash off when you fill up at the pump, as well as gas discounts for spending a certain amount at participating restaurants in the Shell Fuel Rewards dining program. Even your regular cash back card may offer extra points for purchases at select gas stations, so check details before fueling up.

5. Look for local pet sitters.

Most people want to bring pets on their trips, but it can be a hassle when you plan activities such as visiting a zoo or sunbathing on a beach that doesn’t allow dogs. This doesn’t mean that you have to leave your pet behind and pay a high price for a kennel. Luckily, you can find local doggy day care options based on the city you’re visiting via Rover.com, which connects you with loving pet sitters wherever you travel to. You can always schedule a meet and greet when you get to your destination to ensure it’s a great fit for all involved. Plus, the mobile app makes it easy for communication, handoff, and payment to be contactless – so you can stay safe.

6. Snag last-minute lodging for less.

If you don’t have a set plan or route for your road trip, planning hotels can be challenging. However, waiting until the last-minute like day-of bookings doesn’t have to be expensive. Apps like HotelTonight provide a listing of luxury accommodations based on your location at up to 70-percent off. Meanwhile, RoomerTravel.com is another great site to use which connects you with other

travelers who are stuck with a hotel reservation they can’t change, and facilitates your purchase of that reservation for up to 25% below market price.

7. Mind mobile data use.

On the road, you will be accessing maps for directions, playing music, uploading pictures on social media, watching videos and your data use can skyrocket, which can slow down your plans to snail speed. You could always purchase more data, but there are cheaper options. First, make sure you use free Wi-Fi for things like checking your email, updating social media posts, and reading restaurant reviews at rest stops or your hotel.

You can also download map directions and Netflix shows for your kids when hooked up to the Internet and access it later without a connection, you don’t need to pay for more data. Just be careful that you don’t share sensitive personal information such as your online banking login or credit card details when hooking up to a complimentary Internet source, as a hacker could be lurking.

If you would like to monitor your credit to prevent identity theft and see your credit reports and scores, join MoneyTips.

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Spare change goes digital | Business | swoknews.com

With close to 85% of purchases made with credit or debit cards, many people have forgotten the satisfying clinking sound of tossing a penny, nickel, dime or quarter into a glass jar of spare change. But all that is starting to change.

Clever new savings ideas

In today’s world of smartphones, several apps have digitized yesterday’s jar of coins by sweeping electronic spare change into a digital jar to increase savings balances or pay down debt. For example, if you make a purchase for $1.89, the app rounds up your purchase to $2.00 and transfers the extra 11 cents into the app’s account. Here are three of the more popular apps and how they work.

Popular digital savings players

• Acorns. Acorns was the first app to jump on the idea of rounding up your purchase and stashing away the extra money. The app connects directly to your debit or credit card and sweeps the difference between the transaction amount and the next dollar amount into an investment account. Since its start, Acorns has added more products like checking accounts, debit cards, budgeting tools and IRA options. Fees range from $1 to $3 per month depending on the types of products you use. That may not sound like much, but it should if you calculate the effective cost for these small transaction levels. For instance, if the application collects $50 in a month and the Acorns fee is $2, you end up paying a fee of 4% per month for the digital savings account.

• Digit. Digit takes a different approach. Their algorithm tracks your spending and upcoming bills, then compares them against your checking account balance to figure out how much you can save. The app then automatically transfers that amount from your checking account to your savings account. You can establish three different savings goals with Digit. The app will then distribute the amount it sweeps from your checking account into each of the three savings buckets depending on how you prioritize them. Worried about overdrafts? You can set a minimum checking balance, so transfers won’t be made if you don’t have enough in the account. If that fails, Digit will reimburse you for the overdraft fees. At $5 per month, it’s one of the more expensive micro-savings apps. If interested, they offer a 30-day trial to test drive their digital savings tool.

• Qoins. Looking to pay down debt? Qoins might be the app for you. Like Acorns, Qoins takes the difference between each transaction and the next dollar amount, then aggregates the amount over the course of a month. But instead of investing this amount, Qoins makes a monthly payment to pay down the principal of a student loan, credit card or other debt. Qoins charges a fee of $2 for every monthly payment, so if you have many accounts, the monthly fee can add up quickly. In most cases, the interest expense saved on paying down debt early is more than the interest you can currently earn in a savings account.

The area of digital money saving applications is rapidly evolving. Before using any of these apps, it is important to understand their costs and risks involved, compared to other ways of saving money. One of my primary objectives is to help you achieve your financial goals through a holistic approach that is also tax efficient in my wealth management practice.

For more information visit www.fredtfoxiii.com.

Cheap Grilling Ideas: 5 Tips From Master Griller Mark Bittman

It’s summertime, and the livin’ is easy.

The American cookout is in season, and savory staples like hot dogs, hamburgers and corn on the cob are roasting on grills across the country.

Between beers, burgers and potato salad, hosting a backyard barbecue can burn a hole straight through your wallet.

So how can you save money this summer? We consulted an expert.

5 Cheap Grilling Ideas for Summer

Mark Bittman, author of 20 books including “How to Grill Everything,” knows his way around a grill. The former New York Times columnist gave us some tips on how to break out the grill without breaking the bank.

1. Stick to the Basics When You Buy Grilling Accessories

Walk down any grilling aisle or peruse grilling goods online, and you’re bombarded with a trove of pricy accessories.

But Bittman said the only accessories you really need are long tongs, an oven thermometer for inside the grill, and a propane tank or lump charcoal.

That means you can skip the basting brushes, rotisserie, grill brushes, trays, skewers, gloves and grilling shears.

As for corn-on-the-cob holders? “I like to hold corn directly in my hands,” Bittman said.

He’s also a fan of sturdy baking sheets and cast iron skillets to bake and cook desserts on the grill. Fortunately, many kitchens have these items already.

2. Consider These Factors When Buying a Grill

Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

Want to fuel the fire among avid grillers? Ask them whether they prefer a gas or charcoal grill. They’re both pretty affordable in our book.

If you don’t have a grill or supplies already, score some during the summertime holiday sales.

The brand of a grill is less important than the size and cover, Bittman said. You want enough surface area to allow you to cook directly or indirectly over the fire.

“The lid should be at least a little domed to create an oven-like environment,” Bittman said.

To Bittman, what really matters is avoiding open-face hibachi or Santa Maria-style grills. They have limited uses, so he advises staying away from them to get the most bang for your grill buck.

3. Explore Meatless Options

Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

Spice it up with meatless fare, especially if you’re grilling for lots of guests.

“One big money-saving tip is to shift the balance of your grilled meals toward more vegetables and less meat,” Bittman said.

For the budget barbecuer, “you can’t go wrong with vegetable main dishes.”

He suggests main dishes like chana chaat burgers, which turn chickpeas and potatoes into curried patties, or spaghetti squash with fresh tomato sauce, because the sauce is “the perfect foil for the smoky strands of squash.”

As for his favorite meatless options to grill? Those are okra, winter squash, eggplant, carrots and radishes. For protein, cheese, tofu and tempeh are all terrific in his book — cooked or smoked.

“Honestly, I can’t think of a vegetable that can’t be grilled,” he said.

“How to Grill Everything” offers tons of ideas for vegetable main and side dishes to grill.

4. Grind Your Own Food and Buy Bone-In

Many pay extra for those premade patties and prepackaged cuts. Not Bittman.

“Whenever possible for burgers, I try to grind my own meat — as well as poultry, chicken, fish, tofu or beans — in a food processor,” he said. “That’s the most economical.”

Cheap meat grinders run from $15 to $40, while a high-end one costs about $200. It could be a worthy investment, especially if you’re going for expert griller status.

As for your non-burger meats? Chicken breasts and pork chops are grill classics, yet people often seem to forgo the bones.

“Bone-in cuts are always more flavorful to grill than boneless, since they usually take longer to cook through,” Bittman said.

Bone-in cuts are generally cheaper everywhere from supermarkets to butcher shops, plus they hold in extra flavor and keep the meat from drying out.

5. Don’t Let Anything Go to Waste

Kitchen food waste is a big deal in our country. Using everything you have can mean big savings — and delicious meals — when it comes to grilling.

“Avoiding food waste is a big priority, so I always find a way to use stale bread,” he said. “You can save bits and pieces in the freezer until you have enough to make bread pudding with mushrooms.”

The savory and satisfying casserole can be made ahead of time and cooked on the grill. There’s a whole world of unusual foods you can grill to prevent food waste and liven up a backyard shindig.

Now there’s only one thing left to do: Crack open a cold brewski and bask in the tradition of the outdoor barbecue.

Grill, baby, grill.

Stephanie Bolling is a former staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. 

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

STUFF WE LIKE: Thursday, July 30, 2020 | Lifestyle

DO JUST ONE THING

Simple, easy and money-saving ideas that also do something positive for the environment:

Don’t overlamp light fixtures

Did you know that if you use a lightbulb that has a higher wattage output than your light fixture can handle, it can lead to something called overlamping? The constant overheating and excess flow of electricity can create problems for the light socket, the light fixture and the insulation of the wires. In a worst-case scenario, it can create property fires. This is why switching to energy-efficient LED bulbs is a safer option: It’s nearly impossible for overlamping to occur in LEDs.

Clean refrigerator drawers

It may not be possible to give the inside of your refrigerator a thorough cleaning on a frequent basis, so if you do just one thing, stick to the drawers that hold meats and vegetables. Over time, these drawers can become a breeding ground for things like salmonella, E.coli, mold and other harmful bacteria. When substances drip into the drawers, they cling onto the textured grooves and crevices in these refrigerated bins, which are an ideal location for them to thrive and multiply. Simply remove the drawers and give them a good cleaning with warm water and soap, then wipe dry.

LIST-MANIA

Cereals with the most sugar

Wondering just which of those colorful and cleverly named cereals in the grocery aisle have the most sugar?

According to info from Harvard School of Public Health Breakfast Cereal Sugar Content List and Environmental Working Group, these are the top offenders, based on sheer percentages of sugar.

1. Honey Smacks (56%)

2. Post Golden Crisp (52%)

3. Kellogg’s Froot Loops Marshmallow (48%)

4. Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s OOPS! All Berries (47%)

5. Cap’n Crunch, Cocoa Puffs, Count Chocula, Quaker Oats Oh!s (44%)

6. Apple Jacks, Smorz (43%)

7. Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries (42%)

8. Corn Pops, Froot Loops, Lucky Charms, Reese’s Puffs (41%)

9. Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, Waffle Crisp (40%)

10. Cocoa Krispies (39%)

NEWS OF THE WEIRD

By Chuck Sheppard

Police Report: Angel Castro, 39, was arrested in Schenectady, New York, on June 9 after police found him and a missing golf course beverage cart at the Kelsey Commons apartment complex. Police spokesman Sgt. Nick Mannix told The Daily Gazette a worker at the Stadium Golf Club had driven the beverage cart up to the clubhouse to restock it with drinks when the suspect jumped inside and took off. Castro was charged with felony grand larceny.

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How to Save Money on Your Wedding | Personal Finance | US News

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Best Washer and Dryer: Updated July 2020

Sure, you could go to the laundromat every weekend to wash your clothes. But buying a good washer and dryer is a way better investment in the long run. It’s also much easier on your back.

Even if your home or apartment is already equipped with a washer and dryer, it might be worth considering an upgrade, especially because many new models come with energy-saving features that are good for the environment and your power bill. There are also various features to consider now, such as whether you want big drum size (helpful if you have a large family, or want to be able to wash blankets and loads of towels) or if you want to be able to control the device from your phone. Also, make sure your machine comes with a gentle and cold cycle (for your nicer items) and a quick cycle, for when you only want to wash one or two items.

Before you make your selection for what is going to work for you and your family, here are a few factors to keep in mind, courtesy of Jon Gibbons, a UK-based cleaning expert and consultant for Smart Vacuums.

• Make sure your new appliances are the right size for the space you have at home. (Speaking of which, where will you be doing laundry in your home? You’ll need a water source for the washing machine, and most dryers need a spot to vent.)

• Check that it has all the different wash programs and spin types you want.

• Ensure your washer and dryer both have a good RPM (Revolutions Per Minute), of around 1000 or higher. (The higher the RPM, the faster it will be for the dryer to get your clothes dry.)

• Check out the noise levels so you know if you will be comfortable when the appliances are running.

• Check how much water the washing machines uses and how eco-friendly it is.

Should You Buy a Washer-Dryer Combo or Separate Appliances?

Washers and dryers are typically sold separately, but if you’re short on space, there are models available that both wash and dry in one unit.

“There are pros and cons to buying a separate washer and dryer compared to one unit that does both and it all depends on your space, budget and how many loads you do per week. When you have a smaller space available, a unit that both washes and dries will cut the amount of space you need for a washer and dryer in half,” says Bailey Carson, Head of Cleaning at Handy, the New-York based online marketplace for home services. “It’s also best for someone that does around one or two loads of laundry a week. While there are benefits, a combo unit can be more expensive than buying two separate units so you’ll want to take that into consideration. Having two separate units does require more space but it allows you to finish doing your laundry quicker since you can run both machines at once.”

One more piece of advice, courtesy of Handy’s Carson: “Lint that’s sitting in your dryer can clog it and also push air back into it, leaving your clothes hot and damp. This would then require you to run your dryer two or three times in order to fully dry your clothes,” she says.

“Before you run the dryer, check the lint trap and remove any lint build up with your hand or a dry cloth,” Carson says. “You can also rinse the filter after wiping it clean under room temperature water. Make sure to let it dry before putting it back. By simply cleaning the lint trap each time, you’ll have dry clothes after one cycle, which will help you save on energy costs.”

We love to ask experts for recommendations about the best products to buy, especially when it comes to big-ticket items like beds, home appliances, and treadmills. With that idea in mind, here are suggestions from cleaning and household experts about the best washers and dryers for your money.

Best Washer and Dryer Sets: Look for July 4th Sales

LG WM3700HWA White 4.5 cu.ft. Smart wi-fi Enabled Front Load Washer: $648 at Home Depot (list price $999)

LG DLE3500W 7.4 Cu. Ft. White Electric Dryer: $628 at Home Depot (list price $899)

It’s a common occurrence in the modern world. You’re trucking along for years, perfectly content with your household staple. But then it’s time to get a new electric toothbrush, oven, TV or, in this case, washer and dryer, and you discover that things have gotten way fancier and more smartphone-y than you perhaps realized. This isn’t a bad thing, but it can be startling to realize that, sure, you can use your phone to do your laundry.

Gladys Connelly is a Hastings, Florida-based housekeeping technical writer at thehousewire.com. “With my years of experience, I can say that washers and dryers play one of the most important roles in tidying up the entire house,” she says. “But finding the best ones without taking up too much on the budget might be a little tough.” That’s why she recommends the pairing of LG WM3700HWA “as your washer,” and the LG DLE3500W “for your dryer.”

“LG WM3700HWA provides the most water and energy-efficient way of washing your clothes. Also, what I love the most about this product is how I can do my laundry with simple voice commands, since it utilizes AI technology and works well with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa,” she says. “Using its LG SmartThinQ app, I can also control the machine using my smartphone.”

The LG dryer Connelly recommends “also has the same AI technology feature with the washer that can be manipulated using their app. Additionally, it has an option where it allows you to keep your clothes wrinkle-free. This is very convenient especially for those people like me who always forget to remove clothes from the dryer afterward.”

Miele WWH860WCS W1 Washer ($1,999) and Miele TWi180WP Dryer With Steam ($1,899)

Maryana Grinshpun is an architectural designer in New York City and the owner of Mammoth Projects, which works with residential and commercial clients on projects at varying scales. Even if you don’t live in New York, you might have a relatively small living area, and perhaps you have concluded that you don’t have enough space for a washer and a dryer. But Grinshpun says that compact options are available.

“In NYC, most units require stacking models, and ventilation isn’t always an option,” Grinshpun says. “For higher-end projects, we prefer Miele. These models are compact, reliable, and beautiful.”

Bosch 300 Series Washer: $989 at Home Depot (list price $1,099) and Bosch 300 Series Electric Dryer: $989 (list price $1,099)

If you have a small place and you like the idea of the Miele but not the price tag, then Grinshpun says “for a slightly less expensive option, we refer clients to Bosch. Again, we’ve found these to be reliable and attractive.”

Best Washer and Dryer Combos

Splendide WD2100XC White Vented Combo Washer/Dryer: $1,311.84 at Amazon

If you’ve got a big, active family, then Gibbons recommends the Splendide WD2100XC, which can hold a lot of clothes while getting the grass stains out.

“This washer-dryer has a fantastic RPM of 1200 for speedy cycles and clothes that feel drier after being washed. It has a great capacity of 15 pounds, which means you have more than enough space to wash clothes for the whole family,” Gibbons says. “It comes with a great selection of programs for you to use, including a sport one for kids who like to rough it up in the dirt. The water level is also adjusted automatically, saving you money on bills and making it an eco-friendly choice.”

The Splendide was primarily designed for use in RVs and other mobile homes. It does an exceptional job in these settings, but the beauty of this model lies within its versatility, Gibbons says. As a vented machine, it is not difficult to hook it up in your home and have it running there,” he says. “In fact, it is entirely possible to move it between each location — a washer/dryer that you can take with you when you are off on long road trips, as well as one that you can use in your home the rest of the year. It was designed for small spaces, and that includes the home as well as your RV, all without impacting its ability to wash and dry clothes.”

LG WM3997HWA Ventless 4.3 Cu. Ft. Capacity Steam Washer/Dryer: $1,695 at Amazon

The LG WM3997HWA Ventless has enough options that whether you want a gentle clean or a machine to really get in there, you should be able to find what you are looking for, according to Gibbons.

“From a top brand, this washer/dryer is packed with fantastic features like anti-vibration tech, TurboWash, and a Cold Wash that really reaches into fabrics and cleans them just as well as a warmer cycle,” Gibbons says. “There are 14 wash cycles in total as well as 4 dry cycles and 5 different temperatures to choose from, meaning that there is something for every occasion. It’s got a massive capacity for big loads, and the 1200RPM makes laundry a breeze.”

Best Smart Washing Machine

LG Front-Loading Smart Wi-Fi Washer with TurboWash and Steam: $1,618 at Home Depot

The more kids you have, the less time you have. So if you find you’re constantly having to wash clothes for your brood, then you’ll need something that can take care of a lot of clothes quickly. Luckily, Nicholas Holmes, the Singapore-based founder of ProductReview.com.au, has a suggestion.

“If you have a big family, this washing machine is best for you,” says Holmes of the Front-Loading Smart Wi-Fi Washer with TurboWash and Steam by LG. “Its TurboWash technology gives the big load the same great wash that it gives to the small quantity and washes the whole load in 30 minutes. It can bear up to 8 pounds weight, and the users can wash all their clothes in one turn, thus saving a lot of time for the day.

“Its 6Motion technology uses six different washing directions that provide the smart washing experience,” he adds. “In all directions, the clothes move gently, and even the hard stains go away with such quick washing. Its Allergiene technology uses the power of steam to kill dust mites and removes pet danders up to 95%. It’s a smart laundry machine that notifies you on your smartphone when it is done. It works best with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa that makes it easy to operate with simple voice commands.”

Best Portable Washing Machine

Portable Washing Machine TG23: $185.95 at Amazon (sold out)

If price and space are an issue, then Holmes recommends the ThinkGizmos Twin Tub Washer Machine with Wash and Spin Cycle Compartments. It’s compact and portable, and you can put it anywhere, as long as it has access to water. You can even bring it on a camping trip.

“The build is strong and durable, so it provides value for money. It does not need extra space because of compactness, and consumers only need to set it up near the access to water and draining area. Users can set the washing and spin timer according to their needs, i.e., up to 15 minutes and 5 minutes, respectively,” he says. “There are two modes – soft or normal; you can choose the one according to clothes fabric and cleaning requirements. Moreover, it comes with a ‘free’ Lint Filter that collects debris from the water in the washing tub.”

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