Thursday, January 5, 2012

Professor Warns Of $200 Per Barrel Oil This Decade

Oil prices could reach more than $200 per barrel—resulting in gas prices as high as $10—over the next five to 10 years, according to University of Alaska Fairbank's Doug Reynolds (via

Speaking to the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce, Reynold explained how increasing demand for oil from developing nations like India coupled with diminishing production will cause oil prices to skyrocket.

As the price of oil goes up, indirect costs from energy production, taxes, and labor also climb translating into to higher numbers at the pump.

Reynolds said small Alaskan communities like Fairbanks can expect 10-20% higher gas prices compared to other U.S. cities because costs must be spread out over a much smaller market and naturally, there is less competition.

World’s Biggest Economies Face $7.6T Debt Led by Japan $3 trillion, U.S. $2.8 trillion; Rollover Problems in Japan and Europe

With everyone watching debt rollovers in Europe, let’s instead take a look at the total global debt rollover and debt issuance problem.

Bloomberg reports World’s Biggest Economies Face $7.6T Debt

Governments of the world’s leading economies have more than $7.6 trillion of debt maturing this year, with most facing a rise in borrowing costs.

Led by Japan’s $3 trillion and the U.S.’s $2.8 trillion, the amount coming due for the Group of Seven nations and Brazil, Russia, India and China is up from $7.4 trillion at this time last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The amount needing to be refinanced rises to more than $8 trillion when interest payments are included. Coming after a year in which Standard & Poor’s cut the U.S.’s rating to AA+ from AAA and put 15 European nations on notice for possible downgrades, the competition to find buyers is heating up.

2012 Debt Rollovers and Interest Payments

Country 2012 Bond, Bill Redemptions ($) Coupon Payments
Japan 3000 billion 117 billion
U.S. 2783 billion 212 billion
Italy 428 billion 72 billion
France 367 billion 54 billion
Germany 285 billion 45 billion
Canada 221 billion 14 billion
Brazil 169 billion 31 billion
U.K. 165 billion 67 billion
China 121 billion 41 billion
India 57 billion 39 billion
Russia 13 billion 9 billion

Japan’s Problem

Remarkably, rolling over US debt is unlikely to be a problem. The same cannot be said for Japan. Because of demographics, pension plans will be net sellers of Japanese bonds. Unless balance of trade or tax revenues increase enough in 2012 Japan will not be able to roll this debt over at 1%. A rise to 3% would consume nearly all of Japanese revenues.

Europe’s Problem

The ECB elected to kick the can down the road with a 3-year long-term refinance operation (LTRO).

For example, please consider Spanish banks use ECB cash to cover maturing debt-sources

MADRID, Dec 22 (Reuters) – Spanish banks will use the majority of the cheap long-term cash from the European Central Bank to cover steep 2012 debt maturities, market and banking sources said on Thursday.

Spain’s banks face a massive spike in their funding needs next year with around 130 billion euros ($170 billion) of debt coming to maturity. Many banks took on 3-year, government-guaranteed debt in 2008, making up a large part of borrowing.

“The banks that have taken part in the auction have primarily done so to finance the hefty maturities that fall next year, mostly in the first half,” said one savings bank source.

Also consider Italy banks almost halfway to 2012 funding needs

MILAN, Dec 22 (Reuters) – Italy’s banks are almost halfway towards meeting their funding needs for 2012 after they tapped 116 billion euros of cheap long-term cash from the European Central Bank on Wednesday.

The ECB’s first ever offer of three-year loans on Wednesday drew heavy demand of 489 billion euros from 523 banks, raising hopes a credit crunch can be avoided and that the money could be used to buy Italian and Spanish bonds.

The ECB will follow up with another similar operation in February in a move designed to directly help banks which need to raise capital.

A study by local broker Intermonte said 42-44 percent of total Italian bank funding and 75-80 percent of wholesale funding for next year had been raised on Wednesday.

The euro zone banks also have about 920 billion euros of liquidity existing with the ECB which indicates Italian banks could have some 230 billion.

On top of this are funds the banks can raise through the wide range of cash operations offered by the ECB.

Dollar Swaps Soar

That “wide range of cash options” no doubt includes the fact that European banks can borrow money from the Fed at a cheaper rate than US banks can. Please consider Demand for Dollars from Fed’s Discount Window Swells in Europe by 12,735% After Fed Cut Rates on Dollar Swap Lines

There is considerable debate as to whether European banks are using cash from the ECB to purchase sovereign debt and capitalize on massive spreads but Italian banks deny the charge as noted by this clip from Reuters:

There is speculation that some banks will use the ECB funds not to boost the real economy but for carry trades on investment in high-yielding government bonds. “We intend to support the real economy as far as is possible given the stiff ties imposed by EBA,” the CEO of UBI Banca Victor Massiah told Reuters.”

There is also debate as to whether or not the LTRO can stop contagion. For a detailed discussion, please consider European Bank-to-Bank Lending Mistrust Hits Second Consecutive High; ECB’s LTRO Won’t Stop Collateral Contagion.

For now, massive Fed dollar swaps coupled with the ECB’s first ever 3-year LTRO have temporarily calmed European debt markets, how long that lasts remains to be seen.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Todays Big Stock Trade: Encana ECA

EnCana Corporation is a natural gas producing company. EnCana operates in two divisions: Canadian Division and USA Division. EnCana’s operations are focused on exploiting North American natural gas formations, including tight gas, shales and coal bed methane. EnCana’s operations are primarily located in Canada and the United States. All of Encana’s reserves and production are located in North America. During the year ended December 31, 2010, the company completed the acquisition of various lands and properties that complement existing assets within Encana’s portfolio. Encana’s produced natural gas is primarily marketed to local distribution companies, industrials, other producers, and energy marketing companies.

To review EnCana’s stock, please take a look at the 1-year chart of ECA (EnCana Corporation) below with my added notations:

ECA has created a couple of short-term price levels over the last (3) months. First, the stock has formed a clear support level at $18 (navy). In addition, the stock has also been forming a down trending resistance level (l. blue). These two levels combined have ECA stuck within a common chart pattern known as a Descending Triangle that will eventually have to break one way or another. This is the 2nd Descending Triangle ECA has formed in the last (5) months. In the previous case, you can see the result of the stock’s break down out of the pattern.

Another important point to note is the recent high the stock has formed this past week. You can see that this most recent high is lower than the high the stock hit earlier in December. What makes this most recent “lower high” relevant is the fact the overall stock market has hit a higher level than it did back in the beginning of December. In short, this stock has been underperforming the market. This could be a sign that the stock is poised to break lower yet again.

The Tale of the Tape: ECA is currently stuck between two very important levels for the stock: The down trending resistance and the $18 support. A long trade could be made on a break above the down trending resistance with a stop placed under the breakout point. On the other side, you could enter a short trade on ECA if the stock breaks below the $18 support level. In that case, a stop should be placed above the level of entry.

Before making any trading decision, decide which side of the trade you believe gives you the highest probability of success. Do you prefer the short side of the market, long side, or do you want to be in the market at all? If you haven’t thought about it, review the overall indices themselves. For example, take a look at the S&P 500. Is it trending higher or lower? Has it recently broken through a key resistance or support level? Making these decisions ahead of time will help you decide which side of the trade you believe gives you the best opportunities.

No matter what your strategy or when you decide to enter, always remember to use protective stops and you’ll be around for the next trade. Capital preservation is always key!

McAlvany Weekly Commentary

The Battle for 2012: Constitutional Encroachment

A Look At This Week’s Show:
-Maintaining financial vigilance
-Fighting the National Defense Authorization Act
-Calibrating your personal strategy for 2012

Lindsey Williams Predictions for 2012

Lindsey Williams - Jeff Rense Radio - 02 Jan 2012 : Lindsey Williams tells Jeff Rense about the crisis now threatening to erupt in the Middle East and the possibility of skyrocketing oil prices that will decimate national economies.some key points are : the financial collapse won't happen now but it will happen , the war with Iran will happen in the coming months , The End of The Middle East and American Sovereignty the US dollar will be devalued by 40 percent , The Elite are scared because We are waking up ON CHRISTMAS DAY 2011 THE FEDERAL RESERVE GAVE EUROPE 600 BILLION AMERICAN DOLLARS AT AMERICA'S EXPENSE . The Banksters have a few more 'tricks' to be played.
Below is Governor Bernanke's speech of 2002 where all the buzz words can be found according to Lindsey Williams :

Watch S&P’s 200-Day Moving Average Like a Hawk

Of all the signals that could provide a clue regarding the direction of the U.S. stock market in 2012, one of the most important could be the behavior of the S&P 500 with respect to its 200-day moving average.

Since breaking below its 200-day MA in August, the S&P has made three attempts at regaining this level with no success as of yet. At the same time, the 200-day MA has formed a broad, rounding top and has been headed downward for the past four months. While the S&P finally broke above its 200-day in explosive fashion Tuesday, investors still need to pay careful attention to what happens next. The last two times we saw a similar setup — 2000 and 2008 — the market was just months away from melting down. In another — 1994 — stocks were preparing for an explosive move higher.

First, the parameters: We’re looking for occasions when a quick selloff (the first downward-facing arrow in the charts below) was accompanied by a “death cross” — i.e., a collapse in the 50-day MA below the 200 — a messy W-shaped bottom (upward arrow), and a subsequent retest of the 200-day (the second downward arrow).

Click to Enlarge
This type of setup has occurred four times in the past 17 years. In the first instance, 1994-95, the S&P bounced around a falling 200-day moving average for nearly seven months — and experienced a death cross in the process — before breaking out of a potentially ugly formation and beginning a five-year bull market.

Click to Enlarge
On the next two occasions, this same series of technical events foretold the beginning of a major bear market. The next two charts show how this played out in the period from mid-1999 through the end of 2001, and again in 2007-08.

Take this with the appropriate grain of salt, since the current period is characterized by better valuations, lower interest rates and stronger corporate balance sheets than it was in either of these two cases.

Click to Enlarge
This brings us to the current chart of the S&P 500. All the parameters laid out above have been met, and we might be nearing the point where we find out whether the market will experience a sustained move above its 200-day moving average or fail yet again. If the index can surmount the falling 200-day MA or at least stay within 5% to 10% of it — as it did in 1994 — the most recent volatility might prove to be just a blip in the longer-term, post-2008 uptrend. The positive trend would gain further confirmation with a breakout above the July high of 1,370. At the same time, a failure here — which would occur in conjunction with a break below the 20- and 50-day MAs — would signal increased danger of an extended downturn that could take the market back below its October low.

One additional consideration: Don’t put too much stock in Tuesday’s breakout in the S&P 500 above its 200-day until it is confirmed by a similar move in the Nasdaq 100, Mid Cap 400 and Russell 2000, all of which closed the year further from their 200-day MAs than the S&P 500.

The bottom line: Keep a close eye on the 200-day moving average as January progresses and trading volume begins to pick up again. This is likely to be one of the key technical developments in the stock market during the weeks ahead.

Bob Doll’s 10 Predictions for 2012

by Bob Doll, Chief Equity Strategist, Fundamental Equities, Blackrock

The Frustrations of 2011

2011 was a volatile and disappointing year for most investors. Expectations entering 2011 featured a continuation of economic recovery around the world from the Great Recession, despite ongoing deleveraging and residual debt and credit concerns. Debt and credit issues, however, obviously exploded over the past year, particularly in Europe. The investment landscape was one driven by fear and anxiety and while earnings were up in most places, multiples were down, causing equity markets to struggle.

10 Predictions for 2012

Making predictions for a new year is always a difficult task, but this year the uncertainty associated with emerging markets growth, upcoming elections, and the European debt situation in particular, make the forecasting exercise especially precarious. Nevertheless, it is with this backdrop that we move forward with our predictions for 2012:

  1. The European debt crisis begins to ease, even as Europe experiences a recession
  2. The US economy continues to muddle through yet again
  3. Despite slowing growth, China and India contribute more than half of the world’s economic growth
  4. US earnings grow modestly, but fail to exceed estimates for the first time since the Great Recession
  5. Treasury rates rise and quality spreads fall
  6. US equities experience a double-digit percentage return as multiples rise modestly for the first time since the Great Recession
  7. US stocks outperform non-US stocks for the third year in a row
  8. Dividends and buybacks hit a record high
  9. Healthcare and energy outperform utilities and financials
  10. Republicans capture the Senate, retain the House, and defeat President Obama

A “Muddle-Through” World Should Allow Stocks to Outperform

We continue to operate in a post-credit bust world, a chief consequence of which is ongoing deleveraging. As a result, economic growth will likely be slow in 2012. Slow growth should be partially offset by the forces of accommodative monetary policy in much of the world, designed to provide the liquidity necessary for solvency and debt repayment. This combination of slow growth and debt repayment/deleveraging is likely to be a difficult one, fraught with occasional accidents and subject to low tolerance for policy errors.

A backdrop of slow, but positive, economic growth should allow for acceptable, but lackluster, earnings growth. Both “risk” and “safe” assets seem priced for such an environment, but not for a “left-tail” event whereby financial contagion could do significant damage. Our mainline scenario assumes a continued “muddle-through” global environment, especially regarding the European debt problem. Whenever deflation is a risk factor for the global economy, equity valuations remain under pressure. Importantly, the US household sector has been steadily restructuring its balance sheet and lowering its debt service ratio. This positive step, combined with some increase in the pace of job creation, provides hope for a better year for equities.

On the “what can go right” front, we would list Europe moving toward resolution of its debt crisis, the United States heading toward fiscal responsibility, the emergence of a US manufacturing renaissance, a housing recovery, and/or an increase in confidence. The “what can go wrong” list would include a systemic banking crisis in Europe, a true double dip recession in the United States, a hard landing in China, a breakout of class warfare in the United States, and a Middle East flare-up that drives the price of oil to $150. Our “muddle through” base case avoids both extremes, but leaves much unresolved.

In summary, 2012 is likely to feature a slow-growth world that includes a recession in Europe. The United States faces headwinds, but manages to achieve growth of between 2% and 2.5%. China and India slow somewhat, but, along with the United States, make up two-thirds of global GDP growth. The big risk remains that of a financial breakdown in Europe, which would tip the developed world, if not the emerging world, into recession. Inflation should also continue to move lower. Should the muddle-through environment come to pass, we believe earnings and some improvement in confidence would allow equity markets to move higher, with US stocks leading the way.

The Great Zombie Stock of 2012… : Citigroup

What is the great zombie stock of 2012? It’s a stock that is pulling people in now and will break their heart – and perhaps their bank account – by yearend.

First, listen to Wall Street say, “It’s gotta come back.”

Then, ask yourself the subtext: Is it coming back for real reasons or because very-short-term traders assume it is coming back?

Finally, are “value” investors looking at the stock as a grand bargain over the next five years, forgetting that timing in life is everything, from stocks to meeting your spouse?

Citigroup (C) fits this description:

  • Wall Street thinks the stock can trade back up to the mid-$30s — it is around $27 — simply because it is a trading vehicle with hundreds of thousands of options contracts outstanding. I am talking about yearend 2012, not tomorrow.
  • With short-term traders looking at charts, I am looking at fundamentals and they are lousy. Citi is a terribly managed company in the middle of a growing slowdown in the U.S., recession in Europe and a recession to hit Asia by the middle of the year. Management brags about how it is growing in markets around the world; well, most of them are slowing or will slow this year.
  • The company has an opaque balance sheet, monstrous off-balance-sheet obligations that are technically not obligations but should be seen as such, and continuing exposure to mortgage and commercial property problems. Profits in 2011 were sustained with reductions in loan loss reserves, perfectly legal, making even profit analysis opaque. With the economy softening, and mortgage delinquency rates at 6% (the historical average is 1.5%-2.0%), loan loss provisions will rise.
  • Value investors thinking very long term are looking at the breakup value of the enterprise, ignoring that the balance sheet is so complex it is probably not possible to break up – or get regulatory approval – to break up the company. And if broken up, some of the pieces cannot do very well or survive without the Citi brand or the foundation of the insured deposit base. Admittedly, announcement of a breakup would boost the stock, but over time I believe the parts are worth less than the current value of the company.
Citigroup’s weak chart

The charts do not help either. Citi is a very large player in a very weak sector, no help from the ETF or index traders, and the chart is very weak short term.

I have followed Citigroup since late 2007 and the stock, split adjusted, was $430 and change. It is now $27 or so. Meredith Whitney, the doyen of banking analysts but at the time relatively unknown, was holding forth in the makeup room at Fox Business and I don’t think I was ever quieter in my life – her life had just been threatened for saying the company would cut its dividend and the stock would take a hit. The one-year chart says short term there is room to fall so even if you are not thinking longer term, you may actually be looking at a short possibility.

C Chart The Great Zombie Stock of 2012...

Possible upside catalysts? The biggest would be restoration of the company dividend. That dividend is now meaningless and the Federal Reserve has yet to give the company permission to raise it given the state of the balance sheet, profits and the economy. Permission would boost the stock. Many expect it to happen in 2012; I do not.

The bottom line: At least stay away unless you day-trade the options. Think about shorting it if you are a speculator willing to buy puts.

Trading Lesson 3 :Technical Price Objectives

Traders who believe in price charts make them work.

Chartists try to find repetitive price patterns which have a high degree of accuracy and usually are self-fulfilling. Gaps and specific formations frequently meet these criteria.

Gaps are one of the most easily recognizable technical indicators. A gap is simply an empty spot formed on a chart when price lines don't overlap the previous day's price action. Sometimes market psychology changes overnight or over a weekend. That change in psychology forces prices to open and stay above or below the previous day's range.

Time-tested rule

'Gaps are filled' is another time-tested rule of the market. That is why gaps become future price objectives. Quite often, prices retreat to fill a gap in a bull market before continuing the move. Likewise, prices often rally in a bear market to fill gaps.

Gaps may serve one of three purposes. They are used to spot the beginning of a move, to measure a move and to signal the end. There are four different kinds of gaps: common or temporary, breakaway, measuring or runaway, and exhaustion.

The most frequently occurring gap is the common gap. When this gap occurs because of a slight change in psychology, traders expect it to be filled soon. Once a gap is filled, it no longer has significance.

The early portion of the soybean chart on this page shows common gaps during the December and January period which were later filled.

The breakaway gap on this chart occurred on May 7 and begins a major bull move. Breakaway gaps often occur after a stretch of sideways trading and in the leading days of an uptrend or downtrend. This type of gap remains unfilled for a long time.

It sometimes is difficult to tell right away that it's a breakaway gap and not a common gap. When the market fails to fill this gap after a couple of weeks, this confirms the breakaway gap.

Additional gaps

A measuring gap typically occurs in the middle of a price move and predicts how much farther the move will go. It is also called a midpoint gap and a runaway gap.

On this soybean chart, the measuring gap, which occurred on June 8, left an empty spot from $6.16 to $6.26. The April 5 low at $4.90 marked the beginning of this move. The distance from the low at $4.90 to the measuring gap is $1.26 to $1.36. Adding this distance to the measuring gap projects a move to at least $7.50. Whether you add the distance to the top, bottom or middle of the measuring gap depends on your preference.

An exhaustion gap shows frustrated bears giving up and aggressive bulls trying to make the market go their way. It is the first sign of sputtering before the end.

Though prices may go higher after an exhaustion gap at the top, the rally will not last long before the market dies. An extreme exhaustion gap may form an island reversal.

What about gaps that remain unfilled? They become future chart objectives.If gaps are unfilled when a futures contract expires, there are usually corresponding gaps on the charts of subsequent contract months.

Gaps also appear on longer-term charts such as weekly commodity charts, but gaps on monthly charts are rare because they generally are constructed to avoid gaps caused by contract changeover. Like those on the daily charts, gaps on weekly charts are also "made to be filled".

A downtrend may slide to a slow, gradual halt in the saucer bottom formation. Open interest and volume follow the same pattern as prices in this formation, reflecting speculator disinterest in a market with little action and little profit potential. Our example on the monthly cocoa chart took three years to form.

Saucer bottoms on daily charts may take at least four weeks to become visible.

Although this bottom formation doesn't meet the requirements of other bottom formations, it's just as significant in signaling a trend change. Usually, the longer it takes to form a saucer bottom, the more violently prices will rise out of their lows.

Key reversals

One of the most easily recognizable technical signals in trend change is the key reversal. A key reversal often has an unusually wide trading range. Its requirements are a day's range outside the previous day's range with a close higher than the previous close for an upward turnaround and a lower close for a downward turn.

Here again, this chart formation reflects market psychology. A key reversal is the climax of a period of buying or selling fever. In extremely volatile markets, two or more key reversals may occur. The key reversal on the silver chart defined the top of its rally and signaled a fall in prices.

To be a valid key reversal top, trading volume must be heavy and the daily trading range should be wide. Prices first surge to new highs, but fall back and close lower for the day.

For a key reversal bottom, the characteristics are the same. The selling climax has to have heavy volume with a wide trading range which first breaks to new lows, rebounds above the previous day's high and closes higher. Frequently, the highest trading volume and the highest or lowest price of the year will be set on a key reversal day.

An island reversal takes gaps to the extreme. It receives its name for obvious reasons. An island reversal can be only one day or a few days of trading above (or below) the previous and following day's trading activity The action is isolated by gaps on both sides. Thus, it leaves a day or a few days of price action surrounded by empty space.

The Japanese yen chart shows two island reversals. The 1-day island top of marked the climax of a bull move and the beginning of falling prices. The 3-day island reversal bottom in mid-May signaled a halt to the decline and the Island reversal beginning of a bear market rally.

Island reversals occur less frequently than key reversals. The exhaustion gap which marks the beginning of the island reversal will remain unfilled for a lengthy period because the island reversal is usually the climax to an existing trend.

Technical analysis is not an absolute tool. Because it is more an art than a science, individuals will interpret formations and trends differently.

"Thin markets" - those with very low open interest and trading volume - will create false technical signals. These markets, as well as deferred contracts which also have low open interest, should be avoided by inexperienced traders.

Despite these cautions, technical analysis is a powerful tool and if used with common sense, can enhance a trader's perspective and profits.

Now it's your turn - can you spot the Key Reversal in this chart from the MarketClub member's area:

MUST LISTEN: Ann Barnhardt – The Financial System a House of Cards Ready to Topple

Living on Borrowed Time


Jim welcomes back Ann Barnhardt for another compelling conversation. Going beyond the MF Global collapse, Barnhardt believes that the financial system is at risk, and we are living on borrowed time. She also adds that it’s time to go on strike against the big Wall Street firms.

Click Here to Listen to the Interview

10 New Year’s Resolutions To Cut Costs In Your Home

People often use the coming of a New Year as a springboard for self-improvement, whether it's quitting a bad habit, or shedding a few excess pounds of weight. Why not use the same principle for a little home improvement? The New Year is a great time to start working on those home improvements, repairs and maintenance projects that you might have been putting off, before things escalate to unmanageable costs and expenditures.

Get an Energy Audit
One of the first things on your to-do-list should be an energy audit. Hiring a professional energy auditor to assess your home's energy consumption may seem like an unnecessary expenditure. However, making your home more energy efficient can lead to more money saved over time. An energy auditor can point out poor insulation and air leaks throughout the home, which are common causes of increased utility bills over the winter.

Improve Your Insulation
As stated above, poor insulation can be quite costly, especially during the winter months. What many people fail to realize is that poor insulation affects utility bills in the summer, as well. If your home is not properly insulated, you will end up spending more money on gas and electricity trying to keep it warm over the winter and cool during the summer. This makes insulation improvements an important task on your New Year's to-do-list for cutting costs in your home.

Look for Drafts
The final step in weatherizing your home for this New Year's home improvements is to check for drafts around walls, ceilings, doors and windows. After locating any air leaks, begin plugging them up with caulk, foam, tape or some other form of weather-stripping material. If you don't feel confident in doing it yourself, you can hire a contractor to do the job for you.

Start Buying Energy Efficient Appliances
According to the United States Department of Energy , home appliances and electronics make up 20% of your energy bill. From the living room television, to the refrigerator in the kitchen, replacing old appliances with new, Energy Star rated appliances can help save you money over time. Not only will you be saving money on your electric bill, but you'll also be saving the environment as well. Now that's a New Year's resolution worth making.

Get Organized and Ditch the Rental Storage Space
Many people find the need to rent a monthly storage space to store anything they can't fit in their home. In reality, most of these people would have sufficient space at home if they just took the time to do a little organizing. Consider clearing out the clutter in your garage and closets by having a yard sale. You can also donate any furniture, clothing or other household items that have been gathering dust in the attic to create more storage space.

Go Green
This New Year, embrace Green Living by making your home more eco-friendly. Instead of tossing glass, aluminum and plastic bottles or containers in the trash, keep them in separated bins. Then, head down to your local recycling center and get a couple bucks back for being environmentally conscious. Also consider going paperless to minimize waste. You can pay bills and manage your banking online, while utilizing email instead of snail mail to make your home paper-free.

Stop Buying Bottled Water and Get a Water Filter
Cut costs on your grocery bill by installing a water filter on your kitchen sink for drinking water instead of buying bottled water. While city tap water is regulated and should be safe enough to drink by itself, a water filter can provide that fresh, clean taste without having to spend as much on bottled cases of water. This is another New Year's task that can save you money while you save the environment by minimizing plastic pollution.

Refresh Your Home by Repainting a Room
Instead of going for a full remodel, you can refresh and update an old home with a simple paint job. Painting a room with a bold color, or multiple colors can bring new life to a ho-hum interior. If you feel reluctant about using loud colors that aren't typically on your home palette, do a little experimenting by painting an accent wall instead of the entire room. Worst case scenario, you can simply repaint the wall to match the original color scheme.

Improve Your Home Safety
Remember when you took the batteries out of the smoke detector for the TV remote in the living room? The New Year is a great time to make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly. While you're at it, check and see that the fire extinguisher you've had since the 1980s still works. These tasks can prove to be invaluable on the off chance a real emergency like a gas leak or fire occurs.

Plan out Dinner Menus for the Upcoming Year
Your final task for your New Year's home improvement list is to start planning out your dinners for the upcoming year. Many people find themselves eating out more when they have no idea what to prepare for themselves at home. Even consider buying yourself new cooking tools to experiment with dishes you've never served at home before, like a deep-fryer or slow-cooker. That way, you can add more variety to your dinner menu.

The Bottom Line
Your New Year's home improvement list does not need to be limited to these 10 tasks. Take a quick tour of your home and inspect areas that you've been purposely avoiding, ignoring or hiding. For example, that stain on the carpet under the living room rug, or the draft you noticed around the rear sliding door. Use the coming of the New Year to help motivate you into doing something that benefits yourself and your family by properly maintaining your home.