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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.

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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Ally Bank Review – Online Bank With No Minimum Balance Required

By Brian Martucci

ally bank logoOnline banks are powerful personal finance tools that offer convenient access to funds – but, not all are created equal. As one of the first online-only institutions, Ally Bank has developed a reputation for responsive customer service, high interest rates on checking and savings accounts, and reasonable fees. Like many online banks, it has no physical branches, but it is an FDIC member, which means its customers’ deposits are insured up to $250,000.

Since its spinoff from GMAC in 2009, Salt Lake City-based Ally has accumulated nearly a million customers. With $54 billion in total deposits, it’s currently the 29th largest U.S. bank.

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10 Social Media Etiquette Tips for Personal & Business Accounts

By Brian Martucci

social phoneSocial media use is exploding. Facebook has more than a billion global users, with Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn boasting hundreds of millions of active accounts. From preteens to senior citizens, every major age group is plugged in, whether they’re engaged in social media marketing, keeping in touch with old friends, or seeking out new connections.

Given today’s prolific social media environment, it’s hard to believe that just 10 years ago, social media barely existed. While it’s great to connect with friends and colleagues anywhere and at any time, this connectivity carries risks. A careless tweet or Facebook post can alienate your loved ones and jeopardize your job.

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ETF vs. Mutual Fund – 7 Key Differences Between Index Funds & ETFs

By Brian Martucci

investment chartsBuilding a balanced portfolio with individual stocks can be expensive and time-consuming. If you’re looking to save for retirement, or you hope to earn supplemental income by dipping your toes in the market, you probably can’t afford to purchase dozens of individual stocks in appreciable quantities. Not to mention, brokerage commissions on smaller purchases of individual stocks can add up quickly. For example, if you can only afford to purchase a few shares of a $25 stock, the typical $7 to $10 commission for your purchase would account for a significant piece of your total investment.

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11 Best Part-Time Jobs With Health Insurance Benefits

By Brian Martucci

starbucks part-time jobAccording to a 2013 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 85% of all U.S. full-time employees have access to employer-sponsored health insurance, and about 75% have access to retirement benefits. But millions of Americans don’t work full-time jobs, which is defined under the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA, popularly known as Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act) as working at least 30 hours per week at the same employer. And according to a report from The Census Bureau in 2013, just 24% of U.S. part-timers have access to employer-sponsored health insurance, and just 37% have access to retirement benefits.

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EverBank Review – Full Service Online Banking and Mortgages

By Brian Martucci

everbank logoEverBank is a Jacksonville, Florida-based bank that serves Florida customers through its network of physical branches and national customers through its online bank. The company offered its first product, the extant Yield Pledge Checking Account, in 1999. Since then, it has dramatically expanded its offerings to cater to retirement savers, high-asset clients, business owners, and advanced investors who want access to currencies and precious metals. It offers a robust lineup of banking services, as well as brokerage accounts for investors through EverTrade Direct Brokerage.

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Sharebuilder Review – Discount Broker for Long-Term Automatic Investing

By Brian Martucci

sharebuilderThe Internet age has radically changed the nature of investing, giving rise to low-cost online brokerages that cut out the middleman and allow nonprofessional retirement investors to buy and sell stocks, bonds, mutual funds, exchange traded funds, options, futures, and commodities. Sharebuilder is one such online brokerage.

As one of the oldest online trading platforms, Sharebuilder has been in operation for nearly 20 years, and is now a subsidiary of Capital One 360. Like other brokerages, Sharebuilder is a member organization of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), a public corporation that compensates investors for losses of cash and securities in the event that their brokerage declares bankruptcy. SIPC provides $250,000 in insurance for cash balances held in your brokerage account, and $500,000 in insurance for securities, with a total insurance cap of $500,000 in combined cash and securities.

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What Is a Corporate Bond – Types, Rates, and How to Buy

By Brian Martucci

corporate bondsSince March of 2009, the stock market has been on a tear. All three major U.S. indices have at least doubled their value, and retirement investors – not to mention those who make their living off the market – are breathing a long, collective sigh of relief. On paper, much of the damage of the late-2000s financial crisis has been undone.

However, many investors learned the hard way the value of diversifying their portfolio with low-to-moderate risk investment vehicles that provide an compromise between security and return on investment, or ROI.

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Capital One 360 Review – Online Checking & Savings Accounts

By Brian Martucci

capital one 360 logoCapital One is a well-known financial institution that made its name in the credit card business. Capital One 360, one of its major divisions, offers a related, if less sexy, suite of products: online banking and personal lending services. If you’re not satisfied with the brick-and-mortar banking options in your area – or you want to cast as wide a net as possible during your search for an attractive mortgage – then this institution should be on your radar.

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10 Best Affordable Spring Break Destinations on the Cheap

By Brian Martucci

outer banksDepending on where you live, spring can be a frustrating time of year. For folks in more temperate parts of the country, late March brings warm breezes and an explosion of color from early flowers and tree buds. But in the mountainous west, the U.S.’s northern tier, and most of Canada, winter’s grip remains tight, and cabin fever continues. And down south, March and April mark the return of the uncomfortable heat that can last through October.

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Series I Savings Bonds: What They Are and How to Buy Them

By Brian Martucci

savings bondsThe financial crisis of the late 2000s may be an increasingly distant memory, but it has left a persistent legacy: stubbornly low interest rates on low-risk, low-reward investment vehicles. Rates on savings accounts, money market funds and government bonds remain at or below the rate of inflation. Of course, interest rates on consumer-facing mortgages and auto loans remain historically low as well. Many economists believe that the American economy wouldn’t be doing nearly as well without this tailwind.

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How Much Renters Insurance Do I Need and What Does It Cover?

By Brian Martucci

insuranceIncredible real estate deals in select buyer’s markets notwithstanding, there are plenty of advantages to renting over buying. In most cases, renters enjoy more flexibility and mobility; they also avoid responsibility for the maintenance, repair, and renovation projects in which homeowners (and landlords) are obligated to invest.

But renters do face one apparent disadvantage: They’re not eligible for homeowners insurance. However, thanks to renters insurance, this is no big deal, as it provides many of the benefits of homeowners insurance, including protection from personal liability and coverage for damaged, destroyed, or stolen possessions. For people who don’t own a home, renters insurance is the answer to homeowners insurance.

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