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Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci is a freelance journalist and branding consultant who loves to provide practical personal finance advice for regular people. When he’s not writing about frugal living, long-term investing, or consumer-friendly financial products, he’s probably out exploring a new trail or sampling a novel cuisine.

What Is a D-U-N-S Number and What Is It Used For? (Dun & Bradstreet)

By Brian Martucci

d-u-n-s-Everyone born in the United States receives a unique, nine-digit Social Security number at birth. Without this identifier, you can’t enjoy many of the perks that American citizens and legal residents take for granted, including retired and disabled worker benefits. Of course, you also need a Social Security number to file your taxes.

Business entities don’t get – or need – Social Security numbers. However, they can obtain a unique, nine-digit identifying number through a system that’s nearly as ubiquitous as Social Security: the Data Universal Numbering System, or D-U-N-S. If you own your own business or are thinking about starting one, you should know more about the uses, benefits, and drawbacks of having a D-U-N-S number.

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How to Save Money on a Wedding – Top 10 Ways

By Brian Martucci

weddingIn May 2014, after what seemed like an eternity of planning and worry, my wife and I got married in a small-town Iowa church, just steps from her old high school. Our reception was a few miles down the road in a beautiful river valley with a hundred-year-old barn.

We were blessed to have a huge crowd of our friends and family, many of whom traveled from the coasts and the Deep South, to celebrate with us. The ceremony went off without a hitch, and aside from a brief, violent thunderstorm at the very beginning, the outdoor reception was an absolute blast. I don’t get emotional often, but I certainly did that day.

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11 Ways to Save on the Cost of Owning a Cat

By Brian Martucci

cat and ownerMy family currently has two cats. One is an orange barn cat that was foisted onto my wife’s parents, and then onto my wife, by a proverbial cat lady. He’s seven years old, give or take. The other is a former stray who appeared on our doorstep, cold and hungry, about four years ago. Our vet estimates her age at six or seven.

We find the experience of owning two cats to be manageable and emotionally rewarding, and we wouldn’t trade our particular two for the world. However, we’re also budget-conscious, which means we’ve developed some strategies for controlling the cost of owning cats without sacrificing their quality of life.

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What Is an Exchange-Traded Note (ETN) – How They Differ From ETFs

By Brian Martucci

investingLike a bond, an exchange-traded note (ETN) is a debt instrument with a set maturity date upon which its issuer promises to repay your investment. However, unlike a bond, it does not accrue interest or guarantee to pay a fixed percentage of your initial outlay. Instead, it tracks an underlying index or asset class, without actually granting ownership in any of its components.

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10 Best American Vacation Towns to Live In Year-Round

By Brian Martucci

tourist town livingWhile many major population centers are blessed with beautiful surroundings, big cities also have many drawbacks, such as soul-crushing traffic and long commute times, pressure to conform to social expectations, and high living costs. For some, these tradeoffs are worth it. For others, the lure of a slower pace and quieter surroundings wins out. Every year, thousands of working-age people move from big cities to smaller cities, often in scenic areas, that are better known for drawing seasonal tourists and retirees.

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What Is Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) – Comparison to Store-Bought Produce

By Brian Martucci

csaMy longtime girlfriend and I recently took a brief break from our busy lives to tie the knot. The whole experience was unforgettable, but one of the highlights was the amazing outpouring of generosity from our friends and family members, many of whom we hadn’t always been good about keeping in touch with. We got all sorts of presents, some of which are still sitting in storage as we get moved into our new place.

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7 Hotel Booking Websites With Private Sales & Exclusive Deals

By Brian Martucci

hotelThough changing technology and the digital revolution have put many travel agencies out of business, it has been a boon for the lodging industry. Thanks to travel booking sites such as Hotels.com, Hotwire, and Kayak, you can seamlessly book hotel rooms in every corner of the world without picking up the phone. With so many travel booking resources at your disposal, it’s easy to compare prices and accommodations at different sites to ensure that you’re getting the best deal.

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Ride Sharing and Car Sharing – Cheaper Than Owning a Car?

By Brian Martucci

carsharing and ridesharingI own a car, a bike, and two legs. When the weather is nice and I need to run to my neighborhood store or get to an appointment in another part of the city, I walk or bike. If the weather’s bad and I’m not in a rush, I take public transportation. And if I need to buy a lot of stuff at the grocery store or make a suburban rendezvous, I use my own car.

Lately, for a variety of reasons, I’ve been driving less. But since I like to feel mobile and want to keep my transportation options open, I’ve been reluctant to get rid of my trusty automobile.

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GE Capital Bank Review – Online Banking for Savings & CD Accounts

By Brian Martucci

ge capital bankFrom Ally Bank to Capital One 360, online banks have made FDIC-insured banking more accessible to regular consumers and business owners. Offering savings accounts and CDs – but not offering loans – GE Capital Bank is one such online bank. It’s worth noting that GE Capital Bank is distinct from GE Capital Retail Bank, which offers its own suite of products, including loans.

GE Capital Bank, which is headquartered in the Salt Lake City area, provides FDIC insurance – up to a maximum of $250,000 per individual – on its clients’ deposit accounts. It lacks physical bank branches, but enables its customers to bank online or over the phone.

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SoFi Review – Refinance Your Student Loans Peer-to-Peer

By Brian Martucci

sofi logoEven college graduates who find great jobs can struggle with debt for years after leaving school, especially if they have expensive private student loans. And, for borrowers who can’t make ends meet, it’s nearly impossible to discharge student debts in bankruptcy. The result is an unending cascade, possibly decades long, of financial repercussions.

Social Finance, Inc., known as SoFi, looks to change this glum reality. Using peer-to-peer lending between members of the public and qualified student borrowers, it provides student loan refinancing for graduates of more than 2,000 U.S universities. Recently, SoFi has also delved into peer-to-peer personal loans, mortgages, and primary student loan markets.

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FreshBooks Review – Online Invoicing Software for Painless Billing

By Brian Martucci

freshbooks logoIf you work as a freelancer or run your own small business, you probably can’t afford a full-time accountant – but you also can’t trust your finances to manage themselves. Fortunately, there’s an app for that. With about five million global users, FreshBooks is one of the most popular cloud-based accounting programs available. It provides intuitive, non-technical tools to help with invoicing, expense tracking, timekeeping, and basic project management.

FreshBooks has many competitors in the crowded online accounting space, including Kashoo, Zoho Books, Xero, and Wave. With versatile payment options and automated accounting functions, unlike some of its cheaper competitors, it’s especially useful for busy entrepreneurs who can’t afford to devote time to manual accounting activities.

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10 Best Cities for Food Trucks and Quick, Cheap Eats

By Brian Martucci

food truckSome parts of the country have a longer relationship with food trucks – or their predecessors – than others. The first mobile kitchen, the chuckwagon, catered to cattle drivers on the High Plains of Texas and Oklahoma from the mid-19th century onwards. In urban areas, the first food carts sold hearty meals to third-shift workers, long after regular restaurants had closed for the night. New York’s ubiquitous hot dog carts are remnants of this past as well. And starting in the mid-20th century, taco trucks – serving cheap, homestyle food to the region’s booming Latino community – appeared in southern California cities.

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What Is Credit Counseling – How Debt Management Plans Work

By Brian Martucci

credit counselingThere are a number of reasons people get into debt. Whether you’ve dealt with insufficient income and mounting bills for years, or face a new, unexpected challenge such as a big medical expense or a lost job, it can be frustrating to watch the interest pile up on your unpaid obligations – and to wonder how you’re going to make ends meet each month.

A billion-dollar industry, led by nonprofits and government agencies as well as for-profit companies, exists to help Americans address their debt problems. Some of the services available to folks who struggle with debt include loan refinancing, debt consolidation loans, debt settlement services, and credit counseling.

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14 Best Freelance Websites to Find Jobs Online

By Brian Martucci

freelancerFreelancing is in vogue. Established firms remain slow to hire full-time staffers, preferring instead to work with temporary or contract workers they don’t have to entice with benefits – and with whom it’s easier to cut ties when projects are completed. As a result, a rapidly growing cohort of startups is leveraging on-demand freelance labor like never before. An entire cottage industry has emerged to provide guidance for these workers in the U.S. and abroad.

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What Are Debt Consolidation Loans – Benefits, Risks & Alternatives

By Brian Martucci

debt consolidationDealing with debt can be a frustrating, emotionally taxing experience. Whether you carry high credit card balances, persistent medical debt, or a crippling mortgage, your financial obligations can interfere with your ability to live a balanced life. If you feel like you just can’t pay off your debts on your own, you may be considering an option that has provided relief for hundreds of thousands of other Americans: a debt consolidation loan, also known as a refinancing loan.

These loans can be a big help to borrowers who owe significant money – but they do come with risks. It’s important to understand the drawbacks and consider all your alternatives before deciding if a debt consolidation loan is right for you.

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