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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.

How to Travel the World for Free Using Customer Loyalty Programs

By Jason Steele

punch drunk love puddingThink you have to travel often to acquire frequent flyer miles? Think again.

In the 2002 movie, Punch Drunk Love, Adam Sandler plays a quirky character who finds a way to earn millions of frequent flyer miles without leaving home in order to travel with his paramour. He realizes that there’s a promotion to earn frequent flyer miles with each purchase of Healthy Choice pudding. He then determines that the value of the mileage far exceeds the cost of the pudding, so he buys the pudding by the truckload, collects the miles, and donates the product to a food bank in order to claim tax deductions.

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Should I Buy a New Car? 6 Reasons to Buy a New Car over a Used Car

By Jason Steele

Despite big promotional events and appealing advertisements, new cars come with hefty price tags and lose their value very quickly due to depreciation. In fact, there are many benefits to buying a used car for cheap over a brand new one.

However, there are a few specific occasions when a new car isn’t just a luxury indulgence and a way to pamper yourself. It actually makes more sense to buy new in these cases.

In the six situations below, a new car might be the wise and worthwhile purchase for you.

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How to Set Up a Home Network – Equipment & Networking Basics Guide

By Jason Steele

home data networkRemember the first telephones? Well, you probably don’t remember actually using them, but I’m sure you know from history books how they worked: A central hub of operators would sit in one room, and a person would use their home phone to call up the central hub and tell them who they would like to be connected to.  The operator would then patch the call through.

Thanks to modern technology, not only do our phones do all the connecting themselves, but all of our other electronic devices can “talk” to each other when they’re linked up through a central hub. This hub is known as a network, and you can create one to link together all of your electronic gadgets at home in a few simple steps.

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Incandescent vs Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFL) – Energy Savings Worth the Cost?

By Jason Steele

cfl light bulbYou might know them as “those spiral light blubs,” or “the eco-friendly light bulbs.” They’re compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, and while they’ve had a reputation for lasting longer and using less energy for a couple of decades now, the government has recently started regulating their efficiency. With these new regulations and increasing efforts to save energy at home, lower utility bills, and find greener energy solutions, demand for CFLs is rapidly increasing.

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What Is Amazon Prime Review – Free Shipping Trial & Benefits

By Jason Steele

amazon shipping boxLoyalty cards, points, and miles all exist for a single purpose: to get you as a customer to return over and over again. From coffee shops to bookstores, grocery stores to pharmacies, it seems like everyone is trying to get in on the loyalty program trend. Wallets and key chains bulge with little loyalty cards, usually obtained simply by making a purchase and providing a little bit of personal information.

Traditional loyalty programs work by giving customers rewards based on the purchases they make. Amazon, however,  has been able to successfully market a program called Amazon Prime, where customers actually pay a fee to enjoy the benefits.

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HD Projector vs TV – How to Set Up & Install a Home Theater System

By Jason Steele

home theater projectorWhether it’s during the Super Bowl, March Madness, or awards shows, a few times a year everyone faces the temptation to go find the largest flat-screen LED TV and get the best deal on a new television.

Currently, you can buy a nice, 46″ flat screen television for around $1,000. While that price is significantly less than what you would have found for similar televisions just a few years ago, is it really the best you can do for the money?

What would you say if I told you that you could pay even less for an amazing picture that’s more than twice as big?

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How to Set Up a Home Media Center & Network – TV, Movies & Video on Demand

By Jason Steele

home theaterFrom family photos and wedding videos to our favorite songs and movies, we have a wealth of digital content on our computers. But while you may have invested in a high-quality external monitor, chances are you’re viewing images and video on a relatively small computer screen, and playing music and movies through your computer’s simple speakers. Imagine how great it would be view your digital files and the best of the web on your television screen or home theater projector –  as you lean back on your comfortable sofa.

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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.

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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