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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.

Collecting & Investing in Wine – Costs, Risks, How to Buy

By Brian Martucci

wineWhen you hear the phrase “wine cellar,” what pops into your mind? I picture a climate-controlled bunker attached to a gaudy beachfront mansion. Sure, wine collecting and investing is a popular hobby among the wealthy elite and has a certain snobbish connotation – but that’s not the whole story. In recent years, it has become feasible and potentially lucrative for members of the middle class to invest in wine – in other words, to collect wine with the goal of selling it for a profit in the future.

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Do I Need Flood Insurance? – What It Covers & Policy Costs

By Brian Martucci

flood zoneI grew up in a rugged, semi-rural area. My childhood home sat on a hillside above a narrow but energetic river. From our front window, the river was barely visible amid the trees. I remember it mostly as the centerpiece of a popular nature preserve within walking distance of our house.

Our neighbor, whose house sat right along the riverbank downstream from the preserve, had a very different experience. When circumstances were right – a big snowstorm followed by a sudden warmup or a succession of heavy spring rains – his entire yard turned into a lake. Sometimes it took days to drain. When it finally did, it was often a mess. After the worst deluges, the water would spill over his property lines and flood the main road, temporarily cutting off the immediate area. Fortunately, our house was always well above the waterline.

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How to Prepare for a Long-Distance Wilderness Hike – Equipment & Safety

By Brian Martucci

hikeWhen was the last time you got away – as in, really got away? If you’re looking for a change of scenery or pace and you don’t mind physical exertion, a long-distance wilderness hike might be a good option. The continental United States harbors countless miles of well-maintained hiking trails, including many long-distance trails that stretch for hundreds or even thousands of miles.

Whether you’re planning a day-long jaunt through the forest or a multi-week expedition across a mountain range, there are probably more options than you realize within easy driving distance of your home base.

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10 Best Long-Distance Hiking Trails in the U.S. to Escape Civilization

By Brian Martucci

long-distance hikingI’m always looking for ways to lead a healthier, happier life, whether it’s making sensible changes to my eating habits or finding time to fit a workout into my day. But I’m also a big believer in disconnecting from the daily grind occasionally, spending a few days, a week, or even longer away from the pressures and temptations of the modern world. One of the healthiest and most affordable ways to do this is to embark on a long-distance hike, taking advantage of the tens of thousands of miles of hiking and multi-use trails that crisscross the United States’ vast wilderness areas.

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What Is a Food Co-op and Is It Worth Joining? – Costs, Benefits & Drawbacks

By Brian Martucci

organic produceWhen my wife and I moved into our new neighborhood last year, one of the first things we did was walk down its main commercial drag. We were happy to find a diverse hodgepodge of restaurants, coffee shops, independently owned clothing stores, and professional offices.

One business stood out in particular: a grocery cooperative (co-op), a member-owned food and grocery store that welcomes all shoppers while offering special benefits (such as discounts and voting rights regarding operations) to members who buy a share in the business. Like CSAs, co-ops offer access to local, organically grown meats and produce that might not be available at regular grocery stores or supermarkets.

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Biking in the Winter & Cold Weather – Equipment, Safety, Cost & Health Benefits

By Brian Martucci

photo by Papa Bravo / Shutterstock.com According to a League of American Cyclists study, my adopted hometown (Minneapolis) is among the most popular U.S. cities for bike commuters. With numerous bodies of water within city limits, it also has a dense network of recreational trails, and new ones are constantly being built.

But there’s a catch. According to The Weather Channel, the Twin Cities comprise the coldest major metropolitan area in the United States, a place where snow cover can persist for six months out of the year and temperatures routinely drop below zero. So serious cyclists here need to have thick skin (and a lot of clothing to protect it).

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10 Best Outdoor Adventure Vacation Destinations on a Budget

By Brian Martucci

lake tahoeEven though I work full-time as a freelancer and can make my own hours, I find myself drawn to keeping a nine-to-five schedule, sometimes seven days a week. At the end of the day, I’m usually so tired of staring at a computer screen that browsing travel deal sites to find a cheap getaway isn’t high on my list of priorities.

It’s too bad, because I find that the best antidote to my workday blues is a little fresh air. If you love getting outside but work in a job that keeps you glued to the office, you probably know how I feel.

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Bike Commuting: Health, Time & Safety Considerations of Biking to Work

By Brian Martucci

bike on roadAccording to the Alliance for Walking & Biking’s 2014 Benchmarking Report, 91.6% of American commuters drive to work. That compares to 5% who use public transit, 2.8% who walk, and just 0.6% who bike. In larger cities, walking and transit get a much larger share of total commutes: 17.2% and 5%, respectively. Biking is still the laggard, at just 1%. Of course car commuting remains the overwhelming favorite, making up more than three-quarters of all trips.

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What Is Pet Health Insurance – Cost, Policies & Coverage

By Brian Martucci

pet insurancePets are family members, which means they need to be cared for in every way. They need food, shelter, love, and, yes, their long-term health needs to be looked after. For many pet owners, though, medical care can be a big expense. So, how can you do right by your pets’ health in a fiscally responsible way?

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LOYAL3 Review – Buy & Sell Stocks Online for Free

By Brian Martucci

loyal3 logoThere are dozens of options for trading stocks online, but none quite like LOYAL3. This online trading platform caters to less experienced traders who want to demystify the stock market and own shares in recognizable companies.

It lacks many of the features of full-service brokerages, including stock screeners, retirement accounts, and securities other than stocks. However, LOYAL3 boasts several rare features: It makes it easy for relative novices to get in on corporate IPOs, it makes fractional shares of stock available for purchase, and it never charges commissions to buy or sell stocks.

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How to Make Hard Cider at Home – Brewing Process, Supplies & Cost

By Brian Martucci

ciderFor the past several years, I’ve been riding the homebrewing and craft beer bandwagons, sampling too many styles to count. My interest in cider, however, is a more recent development. Before I visited England a couple of years ago, I didn’t even realize alcoholic cider was a thing. To me, “cider” was that dark, cinnamon-tasting stuff that appeared in my supermarket’s produce section every fall.

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:DentalPlans.com Review – Find Discount Dental Insurance Alternatives

By Brian Martucci

Limited Time Offer: Click here and sign up for DentalPlans.com using coupon code MONEYCRASHERS to get 10% off any plan and 1 month extra free.

dentalplans logoHow often do you go to the dentist or eye doctor? If you’re like me, probably not often enough. Sometimes, though, whether you simply need a routine checkup or a more serious issue demands treatment, you’ve got to get your teeth and eyes examined by a professional.

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USAA Review – Financial Products for U.S. Military Members & Veterans

By Brian Martucci

usaa logoFor nearly a century, USAA (full name: United Services Automobile Association) has offered an ever-growing suite of financial products to active-duty and retired members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their family members. According to its website, the San Antonio-based private organization was started, back in 1922, by 25 military officers who couldn’t find an insurance company willing to cover their vehicles.

Today, USAA hawks everything from brokerage and retirement accounts to flood insurance, through about a dozen subsidiaries. USAA itself – the parent company of these subsidiaries – is member-owned, structured under Texas law as an inter-insurance exchange. This is a cooperative model, as opposed to a traditional corporation. All members can purchase insurance through this structure. As a member who owns a slice of the company, you’re eligible to receive a share of USAA’s annual profits.

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How to Make Beer at Home – Brewing Process, Supplies & Cost

By Brian Martucci

homebrewI live in Minnesota, one of the few states that bans Sunday alcohol sales – with the exception of specially brewed “near beer” varieties that have less than 3.2% alcohol by weight, or about 4% alcohol by volume. The limitation extends to retailers including grocery stores and gas stations, and the state legislature only just passed a law allowing breweries and distilleries to have onsite taprooms. Despite these restrictive statutes, or perhaps because of them, we’ve seen an explosion in the number of homegrown craft breweries since the beginning of 2010.

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What Is the Sharing Economy – Example Companies, Definition, Pros & Cons

By Brian Martucci

shared economyAn emerging, highly flexible economic network known as the sharing economy allows people to share resources – such as equipment, services, and skills – with one another, often at significantly lower cost than traditional retail or employment arrangements. You can now get a loan directly from your peers, share the same office space with dozens of different companies, and stay at a stranger’s house instead of a hotel when you’re traveling out of town.

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