Get The Most Miles Per Gallon For Your Vehicle

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With the price of gas falling to the lowest level in nearly a decade Americans now have more income to pay bills and save their hard earned money.  The decline in gasoline prices adds about $1 billion to household income.  Drivers have truly enjoyed the price drop paying less at the pump with more gas in their vehicles.  However, oil prices most likely will go up sometime in the future so consumers should prepare to find other alternatives to driving more and paying less.  Those that have fuel-efficient hatchbacks such as Ford Focus Electric, Nissan Leaf SL, Chevrolet Volt, etc. don’t have to worry as much because of their high overall mpg. For the rest of society that have low to average miles per gallon vehicles, there are still many strategies to improve gas mileage.  One of the best ways is to drive the speed limit.  Forbes.com says drivers that speed tend to overpay at the pump and one can save 10 cents per gallon just by driving the speed limit.  The sudden acceleration and breaking of speedy drivers are the reason why they overpay at the pump.  The slower you drive the less gas driver’s will use. (It is boring but effective) Having heavy items in your vehicle also decreases gas mileage because of the increase in weight.  Any items that are not necessary in your vehicle should be taken out and put back into your house.  Cleaning certain car parts will affect gas mileage as well.  For example, a dirty air flow sensor sends out inaccurate information to the engine computer affecting fuel economy.  Another is replacing spark plugs to provide better results with regard to the engine running cleaner.

To increase gas mileage special attention is needed for your tires especially the amount of air pressure.  Watch out for low tire pressures in the winter because cold tends to reduce tire pressure.  Low tire pressure burns about 3% more gas because of an increase in rolling resistance. Make sure the wheels are aligned properly to reduce rolling resistance, while improve handling and breaking.  All-season tires are recommended over winter and summer tires and limit your 4-wheel drive as much as possible because it wastes more fuel.  The last strategy some individuals do is to set a dollar limit for gas.  This may not work for people required to drive long distances, but for those that have options set a $20 or $30 limit for every time you pay at the pump.   When prices are low you pay that amount and when prices are high you pay the same amount.  The logic is to average it out and you know exactly how much you’re paying at the pump.  Some of the strategies above may work for you while others may not.  It is wise at least to think about these strategies because even though the price at the pump is low now, it does not mean it will be low in the future……

Prepaid Mobile Phone Review

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The most common type of mobile phones is prepaid/non-contract and contract plans. Prepaid cell phone plans don’t require a monthly contract but users pay for a certain amount of minutes every month. The minutes are available until expiration typically up to three months of initial purchase. Contract phones are different because the process involves credit checks and an initial deposit. There are early termination fees but the purchase of the phone cost less or it’s free as an inventive to get shoppers to sign up. There are other deals as well for contractual phones such as family plans, cost efficient long distance phone calls, and some even offer roadside assistance. For those that do not want any commitment or cancellation fees prepaid phones is best. Common traditional mobile phone service requires a one or two-year commitment. Going the prepaid route requires no personal information and the individual pays as they go. The no-contract plan is based on a monthly or daily set rate for unlimited use. Cell phone plans get confusing at times because of the monthly charges, data fees, text messaging, and apps. Some prefer the non-contract route because it’s easier for them to determine what their limitations and payments are. The four top cell phone carriers are AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint. Below are competitive rates for shoppers to think about based on prepaid cell phone plans for the top phone carriers. (The rates may be different based on where you live and go to the actual site for full details) The best one and two-year contract plans for mobile phones will be on a later post in the near future.

AT&T: The GoPhone Plans – No Credit Check and Pre-Paid Smart-Phone Plan: $60/monthly for unlimited talk and text. It includes 2.5 GB of high-speed data. $55/monthly for U.S., Mexico, and Canada. Unlimited Nationwide Talk, Text, and Data Storage. $45 monthly for Talk and Text with 1GB of high-speed data. $40 monthly for 500 minutes of talk and unlimited text. $25 monthly for 200 minutes of talk and unlimited text. For basic phones and no contract there is $55/monthly, $45/monthly, $25/monthly, $2/day, and $.10/minute.

Verizon: Pre-Paid Smart Phone Plans: $45/month for unlimited talk and text with 500 MB. There is an option to add more data for up to 90 days. Basic monthly plans on all prepaid devices start at $35/month with unlimited text and 500 anytime minutes. There is 500 MB of data. The other option is $45/month basic plan with unlimited anytime minutes, text messaging, and text to Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

T-Mobile: Offers prepaid monthly plans for $80/month, $70/month, $60/month, and $50/month. There is an option for pay as you go daily phone plan that is $3/month for 30 minutes of talk or 30 text messages. The pay by the day plan has a service of $2/day and $3/day.

Sprint: The Sprint prepaid phones and plans include $55/month for unlimited talk and text with 6GB of data, $45/month for unlimited talk and text with 3 GB of data, and $35/month for unlimited talk and text with 1 Gb of data. There is no activation or hidden fees. The bills are predictable with no annual service contracts.

Save On Cooking Expenses

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The best way to save while cooking is to invest in a Crock-Pot. It is known as slow cooking without much looking. Everyone wants to eat healthier but it can get pricey real fast if you don’t prepare and understand what to purchase. Crock-Pot’s have been a savior for many to counter the high prices of healthy eating. By using Crock-Pots you don’t need to purchase extra-tender and extra pricey meats because Crock-Pots are known for slow cooking. Shoppers can now purchase rougher less pricey cuts of meats and use the long-hours, slow cooking, and low temperature of Crock-Pots to make the meats softer. By preparing in advance and looking for sales one can prepare in bulk and cook their favorite meals. Just leave the finished meals in your fridge or freezer to stock up for lunches and dinners! What people do is put the meats in the crock-pot in the morning, have it cook while they are working, and then come home to a well-prepared meal for dinner. This replaces pricey take out meals for dining out. Another benefit of slow cookers is leftover meals that are used for lunches and dinners. Crock-Pot’s are also used for steel-cut oatmeal’s and vegetable stock. If you don’t have a Crock-Pot it’s wise to invest in one.

To eat healthy, lose weight, and save money one needs to prepare adequately when they go grocery shopping. You get more for your money if you purchase nutrient value foods. Replacing sodas with less expensive sparkling water and cranberry juice is just one step of making a healthy choice. Other popular trends among people are to purchase produce at local farmers market, low-fat yogurt, brown bagging meals, and inexpensive foods. What exactly are inexpensive foods? Experienced shoppers go for beans, eggs, tofu, fish, and smaller portions of lean cut meats. Also, never waste food that you purchase. People waste millions of tons of food every year by throwing food away in the garbage. Anyone can save money by using leftovers as future replacement meals. It just takes proper planning and being creative!

The Differences In Laptop Brands

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People enjoy using laptops because it’s a personal computer that is portable. Those that enjoy writing or need to work online will find laptops more convenient. It is easier to show your work to clients through your laptop and more convenient for school or to play on at a friend’s house. For people that are musically inclined laptops are used for recording and listening to music. There typically is a built in microphone, camera, and music programs to mix and record. Gaming may be a bit difficult with a laptop because of smaller gigabytes and inferior video card, but it is still popular among gamers. The wires are limited on a laptop and if charged properly one can work without any wires for 3+ hours. People that have small rooms enjoy laptops because they consume smaller space and it’s easier to clean. So what laptop is best for you? Based on your personality and why you need a laptop (work, school, entertainment) you should be able to find the perfect brand. The best work laptops are known as Apple MacBook’s, HP, Dell, Lenovo, and Toshiba. Techradar.com says you can’t go wrong with Toshiba, Dell, MacBook Air, and Lenovo for school. If it’s entertainment laptops such as Asus, Acer, Lenovo, and Sony are known to be strong. Below are popular brand name laptops and why consumers similar to you purchase them. The rankings are from Laptopmag.com.

Dell: Dell laptops are ranked 5th out of 9th overall with a total score of 75. Dell was ranked middle of the pack and has improved customer satisfaction from the past. It also improved with tech support but trails with innovation and software categories. The apps are fairly basic such as My Dell, Dell Audio, and Dell’s Power Manager.

Acer: Overall rank of Acer is 8th out of 9th with a total score of 67. Acer had not improved much from previous years and does have a poor customer satisfaction. Their keyboard and preloaded software need an upgrade with fairly decent tech support. Acer is affordable, thin, and has an attractive design. It does have a poor battery life and sluggish performance.

HP: HP has an overall rank of 4th and a total score of 78. This is the same rank as last year but is known for its innovation such as the motion control, touchpad design, and hybrids. The tech support needs improvement but people still like HP’s design, keyboard, and selection. HP is a brand many trust.

Apple: Apple is ranked 1st with an overall score of 89. It has been known over the years to satisfy its customers, superb tech support, light weight, thin, attractive, impressive battery life, excellent design, and keyboard/touchpad. Value and selection needs improvement because it is difficult to purchase a notebook for under $800.

Lenovo: Lenovo is ranked second with an overall score of 80. The prices of its laptops are all over the map but are known for good tech support and keyboard/touchpad. It is powerful with good performance and graphics. However, Lenovo is known for running hot while gaming and for its plain design.

Samsung: Samsung is ranked 6th with a score of 74. It had a big improvement from last year because of its tech support and Samsung SideSync software that allows people to run phone apps and respond to messages on the big screen. The battery life, performance, and card reader needs improvement.

Sony: Sony ended up last place with a score of 65. The company is leaving the laptop business and Sony sold the VAIO division to another firm. Sony is known for its tech support but does need to work on their keyboard. Sony’s laptop is generally brighter than a standard notebook but still lacks in innovation. It’s difficult to purchase a Sony laptop for $500 because most are around $1,000. For the ones that are on a budget people can find better and cheaper laptops with other brands. Most Sony laptops are super light, great full-HD touch display, superb audio, battery life, and fast SSD. On the downside Sony laptops have poor webcams, the bottom runs hot and occasional fan noise.

Toshiba: Toshiba was 7th with an overall score of 68. The company improved from the past and is known for its display and audio category. It does have good value and selection but is poor with regard to keyboards and tech support. Toshiba has great full screen cinemascope videos, stylish, light weight, and split screen multi-tasking. Toshiba has poor keyboards that dent easily, poor memory card reader if at all, and touch pads missing taps.

Asus: Is ranked 3rd with an overall score of 79. Asus missed a second place tie with Lenovo by only one point. It is known for its innovation, good looking designs, and tech support. Asus also has good touch screens, quick boot up, and full ultra-book specs. What Asus lacks is with its poor battery life, USB ports, and Fn key may be used for volume/brightness.

Use Mint To Budget Your Finances

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With over 15 million users Mint.com is one of the best free personal finance software’s available to consumers. It is similar to Quicken because both are Intuit products. However, the difference is that Mint is an online personal finance software that requires login IDs and passwords. Many enjoy the website because all of their financial information is tracked on one place. Users link their credit cards, bank accounts, loan information, investment transactions, and input goals on a single user interface in hopes of paying their bills on time and having a better financial picture. Mint does most of the work for you because after the login your financial data updates regularly for new transactions and deposits. Mint will keep track of your bills that are currently due and is helpful for budgeting. Using Mint properly will make it difficult to miss another bill payment and an updated cash flow will help with regard to which bills to pay first. It enables you to set spending caps, overspend notifications are present, and advice regarding how to manage your money more efficiently.

People that have used Mint in the past say there is still a security risk. Mint is password protected but it does not change the fact that you’re sharing sensitive financial information online. Some other disadvantages of Mint are it does not reconcile accounts, has a difficult time to support multiple currencies, and the smart phone version of Mint is not fully developed so it lacks many charts and graphs. Even with its flaws Mint.com does work for people of all ages. The online and mobile apps are easy to use. It’s a helpful service that gives people a better sense of where their money is going. The Mint credit score feature tracking option is popular because it can show details regarding your credit score, payment history, age of credit accounts, and more. Mint does have great features such as weekly summaries via email, mobile app support, alerts via email, and goal setting. Is Mint budgeting finance service for you? It doesn’t hurt to try the free service before deciding if you want to stick with it or not.

How Patience Helps On eBay

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eBay is an online marketplace where buyers and sellers come together to trade items. It’s a website that helps facilitate millions of transactions on a daily basis. Users that want to purchase an item provide bids over a specific time period that is determined by the seller. There are guidelines and a minimum bid the seller is willing to accept. The buyer with the highest bid automatically wins. The new option feature on eBay allows buyers to purchase items right away if the price is right for the seller. Buyers enjoy eBay because they can purchase nearly anything at prices less than traditional online stores. Most on eBay do comparison shopping where one can see the same item side-by-side in different conditions and prices. Sellers are still on eBay because they can clean out their garage if they are flexible enough with their prices. For buyers it does not cost anything to become an eBay member and no additional fees aside from shipping and handling. However, sellers pay a service fee to list items on their site and another fee if the item is sold.

Patience is important for buyers and sellers when they are on eBay. For auction-style listings buyers should learn everything they can with regard to the item they want to purchase. Sellers often start with $.99 on items hoping buyers start a bidding war. However, many items go unspotted so always stick with low price bidding. If buyers have the patience to search long enough there are many items that are $1 or less that have auctions finishing within an hour. Double check the delivery charges and bid accordingly. With a bit of luck and timing buyers can purchase expensive items at a large discount. Buyers should also figure out the going rate for items they want to purchase by using the search box. Type the item of interest and click on completed items. The search will provide a list of prices with the lowest first. Red indicates no purchase and green means the items are sold. Determine what the average is and don’t pay anything more than the going rate. Also, there is nothing wrong with asking for discounts on eBay. If you spot an item that you really like contact the seller by clicking on “ask a question.” Be polite and the seller may provide a discount if they are having a difficult time selling the item. Auctions that finish late at night typically have fewer bids and better prices than auctions that end during normal business hours. Buy it now items may have bargains as well because some sellers do not know the value of their items. They are sitting on treasure and list items at a fixed price below market value!

Sellers can benefit on eBay by having patience and fully completing their profile. Complete the “About Me” section, join eBay groups, and create a blog to draw more traffic to your store and auction. Seasonal items typically help sellers with more sales because they can provide discounts and promotions on an item based on the holiday coming up. Be smart regarding listing your items by never using $5.00 for example. It is better to list the same item for $4.99 because even though $4.99 is close to $5.00, people see the $4 more than relating it to $5.00. Always use $.99 or $.50 at the end of the price on items. Most say it is better to buy on eBay first before selling an item to get a better understanding of the platform and how eBay looks from the buyer’s perspective. Sellers that are most successful master a niche that buyer always come to because the seller has the most experience in that one area. Figure out what your most interested in and sell those items on eBay. The last and most important aspect every sellers needs to do is be HONEST. Remove any doubt from buyers by doing things the right way. Post accurate pictures even if dents are present, provide a detailed description, mail items quickly to paid buyers, and provide feedback to any customers that have questions. Doing things the right way will create more trust with your potential buyers that will result in success and more sales.

How To Safely Buy And Sell On Craigslist

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Craigslist is popular because it’s easy to navigate with straightforward categories. Everyone knows someone that used the website in the past to find an apartment, purchase an item, or sell an item. All the individual has to do is click on their city to find what they’re looking for. There are no subscription requirements or questions to answer before getting to the content. The website has not changed much since 1995 because there really is not much reason to. Craigslist is popular because the “for sale” category is free. There are no fees to purchase or sell on the website which makes it the preferred method over Amazon, eBay, etc. Also, many like it because no credit card information is needed or registration with PayPal. There is a lot one can do on the website and most use Craigslist to purchase and sell items.

Craigslist has millions of users on a daily basis and as a result have some bad apples. Over the years the website has been known for scams and tragedies committed using the free classified ads section. To avoid this from happening to you always bring another person to the public place for the transaction. Never meet anyone at their house or somewhere secluded. The transaction should occur where there are many people such as the mall, coffee shop, fast food restaurant, etc. This will minimize the chance of a robbery. Both buyers and sellers should always bring a cell phone along and let someone know from home or to a friend where they are going. For a safe transaction meet local buyers and sellers only. Someone out of state is more likely to steal and has a lot more red flags. Never provide your home address or email on the ad because you don’t know who is reading the content. Craigslist has an option to use their proxy e-mail address instead of your true e-mail address. It is wise to use Craigslist proxy email to keep spammers away from your real email address. Always meet in person preferably with cash because most scammers do not want to meet in person and waste resources getting to the location. Meeting in person will avoid 98% of all scam attempts. Avoid wire transfers because criminals prefer this method. Also, remember the pictures you see on the ad may not look as good in real life. It is better to see and touch the item in real life to determine any defects before purchasing anything on Craigslist. If you are not qualified enough to evaluate the item during the sale, it is better to purchase the same item on a different website. Some common red flags on Craigslist are many spelling mistakes on the ad, generic photos, an item that’s too good to be true, multiple daily ads, and any free item ads. Hope the tips help and good luck on your next transaction using Craigslist!

Tips For Reducing Higher Education Costs

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The price of college is rising at alarming rates. Even a low-tuition school is expensive if the student does not have a scholarship to change their financial situation. For a student that enrolls into a four-year college the average years for graduation have increased to five and a half years. Research from the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems indicates only about 55.5% of students from average four-year college’s graduate in six years. Most state financial-aid programs cover four years and the elite college and universities do not have the program at all. The cost of college is more than people think because of hidden costs that add up while attending school. People pay more now for all types of higher education. The costs for tuition, room and board, and other fees can easily get a student in debt after graduation. Rising college costs push more students to trade schools. Enrollment is on the rise because trade schools are for all ages. Trade schools enrollment include high school students, four-year college grads, and adults returning to schools for an upgrade in their skills. Trade schools are an option for students that want to start their career sooner with less debt.

For most high school students that plan on going the traditional route by enrolling into a four-year college, there are many ways to save. To reduce the fees for college students can start early in high school. Every public or private high school offers college classes for students to receive credits before entering college. The fewer classes the student is required to take in college the less expensive it will be. Another option is to enroll in a community college for two years to complete general education classes. This is a good way for them to receive good grades while figuring out what major to specialize in. After two years most transfer to a 4-year school that accepts their credits from community colleges. If community college is not ideal, consider enrolling into a 4-year college where you can commute from home. This will save the fees from room and board or living off campus in an apartment. Other ways to save are to use all of your meal plan, purchase old text books, get a part-time job, apply for scholarships, explore all financial aid options, older students may receive a bargain, some offer a discount for recruiting other students, taking classes in the summer at community colleges and then transferring over the credits, stay in-state or nearby, and go to local shops and restaurants that offer student discounts.

5 Insurance Policies People Should Consider

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Insurance is important because it helps protect individuals from extreme financial loss or from responsibility when the worst-case scenario happens. No one can predict unfortunate accidents and negative unforeseen events. Insurance protects people from financial devastation. Doing research and choosing the appropriate insurance policies are important because purchasing insurance is expensive. There are plenty of insurance policies you don’t need such as mortgage life insurance, disease insurance, life insurance for kids, flight insurance, credit life insurance, and wedding insurance. To determine which insurance policy is best for you Insurance.com is highly recommended. It’s an informative independent website allowing users to evaluate the 5 essential insurance policies of automobile insurance, health insurance, homeowners insurance, life insurance, and long-term disability insurance.

Automobile Insurance: Everyone in the United States that drives a road vehicle is required to have automobile insurance. If you’re driving a vehicle and are responsible for causing a car accident the damages will add up. It is important to protect yourself from liability lawsuits and the investment purchased on the new/used vehicle. Just one accident can cause a great deal of financial stress. Automobile insurance is designed to provide financial protection against vehicle damage, vandalism, stolen vehicle, and much more.

Health Insurance: People do not think or plan on getting sick, but most do at some point in their life. Health Insurance protects the person from high medical costs. Even if you have good health having health insurance is needed because no one can predict the future. Eating healthy and working out will reduce the possibility of a major illness, but it does not completely eliminate the risk. There are many affordable plans for individuals on a budget just by spending 15 minutes doing research and comparing plans.

Homeowners Insurance: Unlike cars that depreciate over time, homes should increase in value. Even during a recession homes typically bounce back and are considered good investments. Lenders require homeowners to obtain insurance before providing a loan. Home insurance policies are designed to cover damages caused by fire, hurricane, lightning, vandalism, etc. Purchasing a home is an important investment and purchasing home insurance should be the second most important investment.

Life Insurance: This is not an enjoyable policy to discuss but is needed to protect your family, business, and legacy. No one knows when death is going to occur and funerals are expensive. The average cost of a burial ceremony is between $7,000 to $10,000. Life insurance isn’t just for people but also for businesses to protect it from financial loss, liabilities, or instability.

Long-Term Disability Insurance: Most people don’t think they need this insurance, but it is important to protect yourself during work when there is a injury or illness. If you do shop for this policy with various insurance companies remember to carefully look at the definition of disability. Some disability insurance policies pay if you can’t perform at your current job even if you can do another job. Check for the length of the benefits as well. There are some that pay for a few years and others until the age of 65.

How Groupon Can Help During Tough Times

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Groupon is a website that offers coupon deals that ranges from 50% to 90% discounts. The coupon is only valid if a certain number of people purchase the deal in a 24-hour period. Customers purchase the deal by entering their credit card information and the discounted price is paid up front. The price is split between the company offering the deal and Groupon. There are always two expiration dates for every Groupon coupon. The first limits how long the deal is available and second deadline is how long customers have to redeem the deal. After the redemption date expires, the coupon is worthless. Why do businesses offer coupons at Groupon? Coupons alone are difficult for companies to profit from. Companies offer coupons because the hope is to get more customers to the door and purchase additional items. The goal is to generate more traffic for more sales. Business owners like Groupon.com website because even though it’s a minimum return on investment, they do increase their popularity. For the coupons to work properly, ALWAYS read the fine print. It offers details and restrictions such as a specific date or day of the week the coupon is valid for. There are other coupon restrictions such as “for new clients only” so the store you frequently visit is not an option to use for that coupon.

The most common types of Groupon deals are for classes, hotels, restaurants, bars, yoga, spas, local retailers, and much more. Groupon has grown from 400 visitors in 2008 to over 40 million. It’s enterprise value is around 4.17 billion. Groupon is increasing its mobile penetration by introducing an app called Snap. It offers deals on related household products. They have a new pages feature for local merchants that display contact information, maps, and reviews. The Gnome is another feature that provides better insight for merchants regarding item-level sales and easier redemption by consumers. There are also time based deals on Groupon to take reservations or appointments for restaurants. Groupon is facing intense competition from other online companies that have the same business model such as LivingSocial and Tippr. If you’re looking for discounts during hard times when money is tight Groupon may help ease the pain.