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How to Use a 21-Day Financial Fast to Improve Spending Habits

By Jacqueline Curtis

saving moneyIn “The 21-Day Financial Fast: Your Path to Financial Peace and Freedom,” financial advisor and Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary outlines the “financial fast,” a sort of money diet that promises to break bad spending habits, create a plan to become debt free, and set yourself on a better financial course for the future. While on a financial fast, you can’t spend any unnecessary money – at all. Unless it’s food, shelter, or something else essential to survival, you’re committing to making do with what you already have.

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8 Best Mobile Coupon Apps to Save Money Shopping With Your Smartphone

By Jacqueline Curtis

using a smartphone while shoppingExtreme couponing can save you a lot of money, but it can also take a lot of energy. Fumbling through newspapers, clipping the best deals, and waiting for them to scan at checkout can make any quick supermarket trip an epic errand. People with kids or full-time jobs typically don’t have the time to scour the Internet and print out, organize, and use anything more than the occasional coupon.

That’s where couponing apps can come to the rescue. The ability to upload, “clip,” and scan coupons directly on your smartphone can make the process a lot more efficient.

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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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Obamacare History – Winners & Losers of the Affordable Care Act

By Michael Lewis

obamacareThe Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, otherwise known as “Obamacare,” is destined to be one of the most controversial legislative acts of the 21st century. It is both a symbol of compassion and good intentions, as well as a monument to the complexity of a modern society with conflicting goals and philosophies.

Supporters claim that it can lead to affordable healthcare for all Americans for the first time in the nation’s history, while detractors believe it may destroy the national healthcare system and bankrupt the country. What is the truth?

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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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10 Beautiful Home Decorating Ideas for Warm Weather on a Budget

By Mary McCoy

springtimeEach year, at the end of a long, cold winter, millions of Americans breathe a collective sigh of relief with the dawn of spring. For many, warmer temperatures equate to spring cleaning, open windows, fresh breezes, and a blurred line between indoor and outdoor decor.

No matter how you celebrate the arrival of warm weather, make sure you update your home so that you and your family can enjoy the energy and vitality of the turning seasons. You don’t have to spend a fortune with these inexpensive and classic updates that will leave your home looking fresh and bright.

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10 Weighted Body Bar Exercises You Can Do at Home

By Laura Williams

body bar exercisesOne of the best ways to shape up and add muscle definition to your body is to start strength training. This doesn’t mean you need to head to the closest gym and start training for a body building competition – all this means is that you should use some form of weight, whether it’s your own body weight or an external source of added weight, during exercise at least two times per week.

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10 Best Cities to Buy a Home – Buyer’s Markets in the United States

By Brian Martucci

portland, maineIf you owned a home between 2005 and 2009, there is a strong chance that you lost a good chunk of change on your investment. If you were lucky enough to sell at the top of the bubble and rent during the subsequent downturn, you’re probably still reveling in the afterglow of your fortuitous decision.

Fortunately, many U.S. housing markets have recovered (at least somewhat) from the trauma of the late 2000s. Some pockets of weakness remain, and while just one-sixth of U.S. markets have recovered to pre-recession price levels, things are looking up.

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10 Affordable Travel Tips to Stay Within Your Vacation Budget

By Jacqueline Curtis

travelIt seems like every time I log into Facebook or Instagram, I’m hit with a barrage of pictures from friends traveling the world. Whether they’re backpacking across Europe, sightseeing in Asia, or exploring South American jungles, it’s hard for me not to get a little travel envy. With two kids and a mortgage, though, dropping everything to jet set around the world just isn’t in the cards – or in our budget.

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What’s the Best Online Tax Preparation Software? TaxACT vs TurboTax vs H&R Block

By Kira Botkin

taxes-online-computerAround February 1st, advertisements for tax preparation services start flooding TVs, radios, and newspapers. Every company wants you to know how great its services are, and that it can get you a bigger refund and will make tax filing easier for you. Essentially, tax preparation companies tell you anything they think will appeal to you and get you to use their service.

However, not all tax services are created equal. Many have significant benefits and drawbacks when compared to other services and for different tax situations. What follows is a comparison of three of the largest tax prep services: H&R Block, TurboTax, and TaxACT.

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Get Answers to Your Tax Questions from Money Crashers & Cricket Wireless

By Money Crashers

Have specific questions related to filing your taxes this year? Money Crashers experts are taking time this Friday, March 14th, to delve into your questions. Ask anything tax-related so you can make sure that you get the biggest refund possible this year and save a ton of money!

Click through to this post: Ask the Experts: “Tax Tips” Featuring Money Crashers. Leave your questions as comments on that post as soon as possible, then come back on Friday to see the answers!

cricket tips tax

TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express – Review

By Christina Majaski

american express trueearnings cardMany credit cards provide rewards for purchases made at supermarkets, but specifically exclude those made at shopping warehouses and superstores. The TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express is an exception. It provides minimal rewards for such purchases, and if you shop frequently at Costco or want to earn cash back on gasoline purchases, you may want to give it serious consideration.

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IRS Tax Form 1099-MISC – Instructions for Small Businesses & Contractors

By Kira Botkin

In an effort to help make filing taxes easier this year, we are breaking down the various IRS tax forms to help you know if you need them, and how to use them.

1099 misc tax formIf you’re a freelancer or run a small business and use independent contractors, you’re probably familiar with the 1099-MISC form. This form is used to report income to freelancers, independent contractors, and other self-employed individuals who, as their own employer, are generally responsible for paying the employer’s and employee’s portion of taxes.

Thanks to its versatility, businesses and clients use the 1099-MISC form for many different kinds of transactions. It’s very useful, but also potentially confusing because of all the data it can hold.

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14 Tips to Increase Productivity & Avoid Distractions When Working at Home

By Jacqueline Curtis

work at homeAccording to the U.S. Census, nearly six million Americans work primarily from home. If you’re looking to become one of them, it’s crucial to watch out for the pitfalls.

I’ve been working from home for the past eight years. And while I definitely am now comfortable doing so, there were a lot of growing pains early on. I once locked myself in the bathroom to have an uninterrupted conference call with a client – not quite the epitome of professionalism. However, if you take the time to prepare to work from home and create an atmosphere conducive to professionalism and productivity, it’s more than possible to build a thriving career.

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