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Jason Steele
Jason has been writing about personal finance, travel, and other topics on blogs across the Internet. When he is not writing, he has a career in information technology and is also a commercially rated pilot. Jason lives in Colorado with his wife and young daughter where he enjoys parenting, cycling, and other extreme sports.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card Review – Travel Rewards Card from American Express

By Jason Steele

starwood amex credit cardAmong the frequent traveler community there is one credit card that has obtained almost mythical status, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (a Money Crashers partner).

Let’s look at all the details of this card, and then you might understand why nearly all of the top collectors of frequent flyer miles use this card wherever it is accepted.

For every dollar spent on this American Express card, you will receive a single Starpoint in the Starwood Preferred Guest Program. These points can be redeemed for hotel stays (Starwood operates Westin, Sheraton, and other boutique hotel brands) or transferred to miles in one of many airlines’ frequent flyer programs. There is an annual fee of $65 that is waived your first year.

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How to Watch Free HDTV Channels in Your Area with a Digital TV Antenna

By Jason Steele

outdoor tv antennaTwo years ago, I looked at my cable television bill and I decided that I had had enough. I multiplied my bill by twelve and thought of all the things that I could have spent a year’s worth of cable TV on. My family wasn’t ready to cancel cable and stop watching TV altogether, but we wanted to stop throwing our money away on all of the lousy content that was on most of the channels.

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Sport Pilot License – Training, Cost & Requirements to Fly Light Sport Aircraft

By Jason Steele

plane cockpitWhen you hear that someone flies planes as a hobby, what’s the first thing you think about that person? That they’re extremely wealthy?

Until recently you’d probably be right, since earning a Private Pilot License costs more than $10,000 and can take months of time that average people simply can’t spare.

But now, nearly everyone with dreams of being a pilot can make them a reality with the new Sport Pilot rule. How so? Read on to learn more about the Sport Pilot License (SPL) and how it works.

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5 Creative Ways to Lower Your Monthly Cell Phone Bills

By Jason Steele

smartphone buttonWhen I first signed up for wireless service, my bill was under $30 a month for plenty of minutes and the short list of features I needed. Nowadays, carriers know that most people require a cell plan for their everyday routine, and they’re able to charge a lot more. Sure, phones are more powerful, but they also come with costs and fees for features I don’t need. My bill is nearly $90 a month, and it’s quickly becoming one of my family’s largest monthly expenses.

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New vs. Used Car – 6 Benefits of Buying a Slightly Used Car for Cheap

By Jason Steele

used car dealershipOther than your home, your car might be the most expensive purchase that you ever make. I love nice cars, but I also try to manage my finances responsibly. As a result, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that a new car is an unnecessary expense.

Sure, you can find overpriced used cars and bargain buys on brand-new vehicles, but it’s not just the sticker price that makes a new car a waste. The associated fees, subsequent costs, and losses in value (i.e. depreciation) add up to thousands of dollars over the first few years of new car ownership. This is especially bad news if you end up upside down on your car loan.

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5 Tips & Tricks to Beat Out Customer Service Strategies and Get Past No

By Jason Steele

customer service tipsLately, it seems as if most customer service representatives are either not empowered to help you, or that they have actually been instructed not to. It has gotten to the point where getting a company to give you the service you deserve is not just a challenge, but almost a sport. We all know how to lose our temper or ask for a supervisor, but what if you want to take your customer service game to the next level?

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How to Use a Credit Card & Rewards Wisely – 6 Tricks to Outsmart Credit Card Companies

By Jason Steele

credit card manDue to the recent economic recession, people have become more and more displeased with their banks. High interest rates, credit card fees, and poor customer service have left them clamoring for change and better treatment. The recent Credit CARD Act of 2009 is a step in the right direction, but it’s not an all encompassing fix.

Luckily, there is minority of people who have found ways to outsmart their credit card issuers and make the system, flaws and all, work for them. As one of those knowledgeable few, allow me to share a few credit card tricks I’ve learned along the way.

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7 Benefits of Live Online Customer Service Chat – Save Time, Money & Aggravation

By Jason Steele

customer service chatDealing with customer service is the bane of my existence. If I could pay someone to do it for me I probably would.

There are only so many ways to contact a company, and each one has severe drawbacks. When you try a telephone call, you risk spending valuable time navigating phone trees and waiting on hold, only to try explaining the problem to someone who may not understand your issue, may not know the finer points of English, or just may not be able to help. When you try email, you may have to wait days to receive a form letter that doesn’t even address your problem. Using the fax machine or sending a letter only increases the odds of an unsatisfactory or untimely response.

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4 Bank Errors & Mistakes Waiting To Happen

By Jason Steele

angry money manLike most people, I rely on the wonders of banking technology to receive my pay checks and pay my bills. Banks offer the near magical feature of having money just appear in your bank account (i.e. direct deposit) or having bills paid on a schedule while you worry about other things.

Modern technology is often so seamless and convenient that it’s easy to forget that both computers, and the people using them, are not perfect. It would be nice to think that our banking system is failsafe. However, that would be ignorant, and, in the case of finances, ignorance is far from bliss.

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5 Computer Hardware Upgrades to Improve Speed, Memory & Performance

By Jason Steele

computer dual monitorsWhen I first began my career in IT in the mid ’90s, we generally expected new computers to be obsolete within a few years. Thanks to improving technology however, we can now get a few more years out of computers before they break down or can’t keep up. That’s good news for your budget.

Even better, rather than investing in a completely new machine every time you want to make an improvement, you can snap up some new innovative tech products that will act as sensible and affordable upgrades on their own.

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5 Rental Car Insurance Coverage Loopholes to Avoid with Credit Cards

By Jason Steele

rental car girlOne of the most frequently repeated bits of travel advice is to avoid being coerced into paying extra for additional rental car insurance. When you pay with a credit card, you are usually covered by the policy that is included by the network that your card is affiliated with.

This advice, while generally true, glosses over a much more complicated insurance picture.

Many travelers think that they are covered by their credit card’s policy only to find out after a car accident that they were not.

Here are six common situations where you might think you are covered, but you’re really not.

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Ride Your Bike to Work – How Bicycle Commuting & Cycling Saves Money, Mind & Planet

By Jason Steele

bike to work cityI’ve enjoyed cycling for most of my life, but I’ve always considered it just a sport. I rode mountain and road bikes alike, but always for fun and fitness, not for conventional transportation. Any time I considered joining the gang of people who biked to work, I’d always find a good reason – or excuse – not to.

Last year I finally went from finding problems with the idea of practical cycling to finding solutions. The results exceeded my expectations.

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How to Save Money on Baby Expenses – Strollers, Car Seats & Furniture

By Jason Steele

baby strollerWhen my wife and I were expecting our first daughter, we spent  hours poring over product reviews, polling friends and family, and researching the very best baby gear that would keep our little bundle safe, healthy, and happy.

The good news? There are literally millions of quality baby products to choose from.

The bad news? It can cost the equivalent of your child’s future college education to furnish a new nursery. Ultimately (and fortunately), we came to the conclusion that many of the less expensive products actually performed as well or even better than the more costly versions.

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6 Simple Ways to Save Money With Your High-Speed Internet Service Provider

By Jason Steele

high speed internetIt has been a long time since having high-speed broadband Internet service went from being a point of geeky pride to an essential utility.

And like all utility providers, Internet service providers will do everything they can to extract the most revenue from each of their customers.

Fortunately, there are six tactics savvy customers can employ to enjoy broadband service at the lowest possible price.

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