Rachel Kaufman - The Penny Hoarder

Your freezer can be an incredible source of savings, or it can be the black hole where mushy vegetables and half-eaten pints of ice cream go to die.

To help you remember how long foods keep and how to properly freeze them, The Huffington Post shared this great infographic on freezing food. Who knew you could freeze yogurt? Who knew fried chicken is still good after a third of a year in the deep freeze?

With the power of this chart, you can stock up when you have coupons, during a sale or when produce is in-season, stretching your grocery budget and helping you save money.

Of course, your ability to save depends on actually using the food you freeze, and the likelihood you'll do that is directly related to how good the food tastes after it thaws. Here are some tips to make sure your freezer food tastes like food, not freezerburn.

A Guide to Freezing Food

Don't put hot or warm food in the freezer; you should always wait until your food is cool, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's extension office.

Pack your goodies into freezer bags, which are thicker than regular zip-top bags. Don't use Tupperware or other plastic containers, since those won't let you remove all air from the container. Flatten out the bag until the contents freeze, and then stack it with other freezer bags or even store the bag vertically on its edge.

Don't forget to label your bags with the name of the food, the date you froze it and any other helpful information, such as measurements.

What to Freeze

You can freeze almost anything, from raw meat (between three and 12 months depending on the type of meat), to milk (three to six months) and even cookie dough (three months).

To make mealtimes easier, consider freezing pre-cooked items, like pasta sauce (12-18 months, according to the University of Minnesota's extension office) or full meals you've prepped in advance, like casseroles and enchiladas.

You can either pre-bake the meals and freeze them for up to three months, or assemble them without baking and pop them straight into the freezer. They keep two to four months this way, according to the University of Wisconsin, and you can cook them without even thawing afterwards by doubling the original cook time and subtracting about 10 minutes.

For example, if a casserole was originally supposed to be baked for 30 minutes, try baking it for 50 minutes, but set a timer to check on it in about 40 minutes to make sure nothing is burning.

What Not to Freeze

Some things just don't freeze well. Potato salad or chicken salad are on that list, as are raw and hard-boiled eggs -- though you can freeze raw egg whites or egg yolks once you crack the shells open. Mayonnaise will "break" as it thaws and the eggs and oil separate, which is gross. Half-and-half will also "break" if frozen, but heavy cream is OK.

Don't freeze any liquids in glass containers, because the liquid will expand as it freezes and perhaps break the glass, and don't -- no matter what anyone tells you -- keep coffee in the freezer, unless you like your coffee to taste like the freezer smells.

Using your freezer to store food takes a small amount of planning and work, but it's all worth it when you pull out a pan full of manicotti or lasagna and have dinner ready with almost no effort -- and for pennies per serving.

For more information on what -- and what not -- to freeze, read the full infographic on HuffPo.

Your Turn: What are your favorite meals to freeze?

Rachel Kaufman may or may not be two dozen hamsters masquerading as one human in a trench coat.

As a college student, you probably thought about majoring in business or communications or engineering, or something else broad. You might even have really shocked your parents by majoring in art or philosophy.

But Mom and Dad might have been really surprised to find out you were majoring in puppetry or bowling industry management.

Yet those majors do exist, along with other "weird" and specialized courses of study. These weird college majors, which are only offered at a few schools, can lead to weird jobs that are highly specialized -- and pay decent salaries, according to CheatSheet.

Would you pick any of these weird majors?

Puppetry

Offered at only a couple schools, this major (and master's-level program) is extremely competitive, requiring not just an application but a portfolio and an audition.

Once you graduate, you can expect to earn around $40,000 a year. If you’re great, you could earn significantly more; Caroll Spinney, the man who has played Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on “Sesame Street” since 1969, earns more than $300,000 a year.

Bowling Industry Management

Apparently, running a bowling alley is more complicated than other forms of entertainment -- you don't see many universities offering movie theater management.

Bowling alley managers earn between $39,000 and $56,000, according to CheatSheet. Bonus: You can finish this degree in two years.

Racetrack Management

The University of Arizona is home to the country's only degree-offering program for racetrack management, and in fact, the program has two tracks: one for the business side of racetracks and the other that focuses on caring for horses.

Should you choose the latter, you'll take classes like Equine Nutrition and Management and Introduction to Horsemanship Programs. This degree qualifies you to work at the more than 100 racetracks in the U.S., as well as at related businesses like state racing boards. Graduates earn an average of $41,000 yearly for entry-level jobs, and that number increases to $70,000 or more for those with at least 20 years' experience.

Bonus: Mortuary Science

This major didn’t make the list and might not qualify as "weird" since many schools offer it, but people in the programs do say that others often regard them as weird.

Funeral directors often work long hours and have to deal with things that many find depressing or even repulsive, but job security is about as good as you can get. The median earning for funeral service workers was more than $53,000 per year in 2015.

Want to see more weird college majors? Check out the full list on CheatSheet.

Your Turn: Did you have a weird college major? Let us know in the comments below!

Rachel Kaufman may or may not be two-dozen hamsters masquerading as one human in a trenchcoat.

Graduating college with no student loan debt is a dream for many -- but graduating with no debt and thousands in savings? That's more like a fantasy.

Yet by combining winning scholarships, working through college and saving aggressively, Amanda Reaume managed to do just that: graduate college debt-free with $40,000 in the bank.

Want to follow her lead? She shared her tips for reaching your own audacious saving goal, whether it’s $100,000, $50,000 or even $20,000, on Credit.com.

1. Go to an Inexpensive College

Attending a less expensive school, or the one that gives you the most scholarships, will ensure you graduate with less debt. And for the most part -- University of Phoenix excepted -- nobody cares where you went to undergrad.

That’s one reason this student, who was accepted to all eight Ivy League schools, turned them all down -- he’d rather take a full-ride scholarship and save his cash to pay for medical school.

2. Pay Off Your Credit Cards in Full Every Month

Those interest charges are murder. Don’t open yourself up to the possibility of watching them spiral out of control.

3. Live Within Your Means, Even After You Graduate

Just because you're not in college anymore, doesn't mean you can start having steak every night.

Act as though you're still a broke college student -- whether that means living with roommates, taking public transit or looking for ways to save money on food -- and your savings will bloom.

4. If Your Employer Offers a 401(k) Match, Take It

It's free money!

5. Have a Side Hustle

If it's OK with your job #1, make some extra money on the side by freelancing or picking up odd jobs.

Think about writing blog posts, tutoring or whatever you're good at. For ideas, check out this post on side hustle inspiration, or this one on ways to make money on the side.

Do What Works for You

Not all these tips will work for everyone. Your boss might not be OK with your side hustle, and your job might not have a retirement match.

The point is, while saving $100,000 or even $40,000 may be out of reach, even having $10,000 more in the bank than you would otherwise have puts you in a much better financial position.

For the rest of Amanda’s strategies, check out the full story on Credit.com or pick up her book.

Your Turn: How much have you saved? What’s your savings goal?

Disclosure: We have a serious Taco Bell addiction around here. The affiliate links in this post help us order off the dollar menu. Thanks for your support!

Rachel Kaufman may or may not be two dozen hamsters masquerading as one human in a trench coat.

While the press laps up reports on how much Kimye's wedding cost or how dot-com millionaires spend ridiculous amounts of money, they don’t often focus on millionaires who live like normal people.

We’re talking about those members of the 1% who still shop sales, clip coupons and refuse to pay full price for anything.

To learn more about they’ve earned and maintained their fortunes, the New York Times spoke to a number of millionaires next door, whose wealth ranges from a few million to $10.86 million. Here are some of the most interesting habits these people had in common.

They Take Saving Seriously

The millionaires interviewed had earned their money through saving and investing, not by inheriting it, though many earned healthy salaries.

“They’ve come from the middle class, the working class, and they still believe they’re part of the 99 percent, no matter what, because that’s how they identify themselves," Paula Polito, chief client strategy officer at UBS Wealth Management Americas, told the Times.

These self-made millionaires picked up saving habits through their lifetimes. Though they’re now financially secure, they maintain those healthy money habits.

Many of the millionaires interviewed buy inexpensive cars and drive them for a long time. They also live in smaller houses, buy all their clothing on sale and even darn their own socks.

They Prioritize Their Spending

While several of the millionaires mentioned big purchases, they emphasized how they specifically chose expenditures that were important to them.

For example, one couple purchased the empty lots next to their home so they could keep their privacy. Another couple said they’ll buy art when they’re on vacation. In fact, many couples said they don't regret splurging on their vacations.

By being strategic with their spending, these former 99-percenters were able to catapult themselves into the upper echelon of wealth in America.

Want to know the full story? Read more about their frugal habits in the New York Times.

Your Turn: What money habits would you retain if you were a millionaire? Or do you think you’d be ready to live large?

Rachel Kaufman may or may not be two dozen hamsters masquerading as one human in a trench coat.

As college costs in the U.S. skyrocket, students everywhere are looking for ways to cut costs. Here’s one unusual way you might not have considered: Go abroad.

At least seven countries not only offer free or low-cost education to international students, according to The Washington Post. Many of the courses are in English, and quite a few are full four-year programs -- meaning you could get a free college degree and an international travel experience.

Want to be a globetrotting student? Here are a few of the countries to consider.

1. Germany

Last October, Lower Saxony became the last German state to make higher education free for citizens and foreigners -- so now the entire country’s college system is free.

You can choose from 900 undergraduate or graduate degrees, all in English, according to the Post. Ja, bitte!

2. Finland

Finland offers a number of programs in English, and charges no tuition, at least for now; a new government may introduce modest fees to fill a budget gap by 2016 or 2017. So if you’re planning to study there, consider going soon!

One cool feature? A Finnish bachelor’s degree takes only three years to earn, not four. So this option could save you both money and time.

3. France

France offers a range of programs, with a range of costs. Public institutions charge between €181 and €596 ($200-$665) per year; private schools charge more, but still less than many U.S. schools.

Foreign students must also prove they have €615 ($686) per month without working, to use for incidentals, so make sure to beef up your bank account before you move.

4. Norway

Norway’s colleges are free for international students. However, be ready for sticker shock: Norway has one of the highest costs of living for expats.

If you’re thinking about earning a degree abroad but want to return stateside to work, think about talking to potential employers about how they’d view your foreign degree. Consider lining up a credential evaluation, which helps U.S. employers understand whether your degree is from a reputable institution in its home country.

Want to learn more? Read the full post, including three more countries that offer free or low-cost college degrees.

Your Turn: Would you move to another country to save money on your education?

Rachel Kaufman may or may not be two dozen hamsters masquerading as one human in a trench coat.

This food blogger made $150,000 last year — and in a recent interview, she shared how she did it.

Mallory, who spoke with Yahoo Food anonymously, has what any foodie would consider a dream job: She’s paid to blog, Tweet, Instagram and Pin about her favorite recipes. She told Yahoo Food she made $150,000 from her blog in 2014, and she expects to earn more than $250,000 this year.

Here’s her best advice on how to make money blogging.

How a Food Blogger Earns $150,000 a Year

Mallory earns some money from ads, but most of her income comes from being paid to write about a recipe using a brand’s product. In the old days, a brand might pay $50 to a blogger. Mallory says her average is 100 times that: $5,000. “I won’t do a post for less than $3,500 now,” she told Yahoo Food.

And when you compare Mallory’s rates with the cost of buying an ad on TV or in a newspaper, you start to understand why Mallory and other food bloggers are so popular. A national, 30-second ad in 2011 cost almost $110,000 -- and a brand can’t even measure the ad’s full value.

On the other hand, Mallory has 300,000 followers combined across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, and she can tell a brand exactly how many impressions their sponsored post received. That makes $5,000 per post seem like a real bargain.

So there’s real money to be had here and, it seems, plenty to go around. How do you get your slice of the pie?

How to Make Money as a Food Blogger

Mallory told Yahoo she’s very active on all four social media platforms, posting multiple times every weekday, as well as posting two to three new blog posts per week.

She also works with other food bloggers to promote their posts; in exchange, they’ll promote hers.

Good photos are absolutely crucial. Pinterest-worthy food shots get retweeted and shared by followers, but they also get picked up by aggregators like Buzzfeed. “Being featured on BuzzFeed when you’re new? You get a ton of traffic and followers,” Mallory told Yahoo Food.

Once your blog is pro-level, it’s time to start pulling in the cash. Marketing agencies like Collectively, Tap Influence, Pollinate Media, Weave Made Media and CookIt Media connect brands with bloggers. Ad networks like BlogHer, Martha’s Circle or Google Adsense can help you start bringing in the dough.

Will You Make Money as a Blogger?

It’s important to remember that blogging is work, too. To make this kind of money, you’ll have to be super dedicated and put in the time.

“You’ve got to decide: Is this a personal thing or is this what I want to do to make a living?” Mallory told Yahoo Food.

Want to know more about how to make a living as a food blogger? Read the full story at Yahoo Food.

Your Turn: Would you like to make money as a food blogger?

Rachel Kaufman may or may not be two dozen hamsters masquerading as one human in a trench coat.

There’s upcycling, and then there’s upcycling, and Canadian artist David Irvine is doing the latter.

For over a decade Irvine has salvaged trashy paintings from thrift stores and updated the art by painting pop culture characters into them. Imagine the Death Star looming over a quaint river cabin or Doctor Who and his TARDIS appearing in a Thomas Kinkade work.

“I hate seeing waste, and when I see a painting collecting dust on a shelf, I see potential, not garbage,” Irvine told ABC News.

He’s not just decorating his home; he’s making some nice side cash, with each work selling for anywhere from $300 to $800.

When Thrift Store Art Gets Upcycled

Irvine isn’t the only artist performing “involuntary collaborations” with thrift store work. Other impressive artists include Chris McMahon (who also does originals), Thryza Segal and Dave Pollot.

Clearly, as long as bad thrift-store art exists, talented artists will repurpose it for laughs and a little cash. If you like this idea and want to start your own business sticking monsters and Jedi into old paintings, make sure you come up with your own unique approach; Dave Pollot, for example, has an entire Futurama-themed series.

Not into pop culture or monsters? Take a cue from some of these creatives! Blogger Elsie Larson of A Beautiful Mess transformed a thrift store painting into a song lyric, and you could do the same with your favorite motivational quote. And blogger Ashley of Under the Sycamore turned an old still life into a paint-by-numbers-style pop art piece.

If you really get creative, you can sell your projects on your own website like some of the artists mentioned here, or lean on Etsy to make some cash. This crafty mom makes $70,000 a month on Etsy!

Need a source of materials? Check your local Goodwill or other thrift shop for paintings. Habitat for Humanity ReStore or other building material reuse centers have paint and other supplies. And your local Creative Reuse Center can hook you up with anything you can’t find at the other thrift stores.

Go ahead and get crafty -- your walls will thank you.

For more details on how Irvine turns old, unwanted thrift store paintings into in-demand art, read the full story on ABC News.

Your Turn: Have you ever upcycled art like this? Did you try to sell it?

Rachel Kaufman may or may not be two dozen hamsters masquerading as one human in a trench coat.

Tax day may be over, but debate about the “pink tax” rages on.

The pink tax is a subtle, maybe-not-even-noticeable-at-first price hike for women’s products that are identical to those made for men, like razors and shampoo.

Listen Money Matters compiled a number of examples where women’s versions (“pink products”) cost more than the same products marketed to men. And the Tumblr Woman Tax (only in French, sadly, but you don’t need to speak the language to understand these photos) is working to collect more examples.

How much money have you spent on the pink tax?

How Much is the Pink Tax Worth?

Many pink products cost more than otherwise identical products made for men. The price difference for each individual item is often only 50 cents or a couple of bucks, but it adds up to more than $1,300 a year.

Sometimes these price differences seem somewhat understandable. Women’s shirts cost more to launder than men’s shirts do because most industrial pressing machines are built for larger shirts, so women’s shirts often require hand-pressing. Though, as writer Amanda Oliver notes on Groundswell, why not invest in a smaller or unisex machine?

However, some of these price differences are mind-boggling. Why on earth would Excedrin Complete Menstrual cost more at Walgreens than Excedrin Extra Strength, despite having the exact same formulation of active ingredients? Why would pink razor blades cost more than the ones in “manly” colors? We’re not sure, other than the fact that many companies clearly think they can get away with it. (To be clear, in both these examples, the prices are set by the stores, not the manufacturers. But no matter who sets the price, women shouldn’t be getting ripped off.)

Can You Avoid the Pink Tax?

An easy solution to this problem is to buy the “men’s” version of the product, as long as you don’t mind a different scent or color.

But sometimes that isn’t possible. Women tend to pay more for car repairs than men, though the study noted that when both men and women had a general idea of how much the repair should cost, that gender difference disappeared. (And women who “leaned in” and asked for a discount were more likely to get one than men were -- so ladies, don’t be afraid to negotiate!)

And what about in games and apps? Even a 12-year-old noticed the gender disparity in her favorite game app, and called out its manufacturers in a Washington Post op-ed piece. Many free-to-play games have bonus content that players can either unlock through gameplay or by paying. And most of them, noticed avid gamer Madeline Messer, charge players money to play as a female character, even though male characters are typically free. The average price to buy a female character? $7.53. One Disney game charged almost $30 for the single available female character.

The good news is that based on Messer’s observations, her favorite game’s co-creator is adding a free female character, and Disney is lowering its price for the female avatar.

In the meantime, other than shopping in the men’s section, there’s not much you can do to avoid the pink tax. You could try to shop for certified feminist products, but only a few companies, like L’Oreal and IKEA, have been certified.

But the best way to avoid the pink tax is to help get rid of it. Don’t just shop with your wallet; call out companies when you notice discrepancies. Ask them why women’s products cost more than men’s. Blast them on Twitter or other social media.

The pink tax is not new, but it’s long overdue to disappear. Read more about how companies overcharge women at Listen Money Matters.

Your Turn: Have you noticed the pink tax in your own shopping? What’s the worst example you’ve seen?

Rachel Kaufman may or may not be two dozen hamsters masquerading as one human in a trench coat.