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  • Will a Smart Thermostat Pay for Itself?

    By Elizabeth Sheer,

    Most Americans are likely to pay more to heat their homes this year than they did last winter, according to a recent Energy Department report, because of an expected rise in fuel costs. Common theory says that a programmable thermostat can help counteract those high utility bills. But what about the relatively new breed of smart thermostats, including the much-buzzed-about Nest? Do their additional features deliver enough additional energy savings to justify a price tag of $250 or more? The answer may depend more on you than on them.

    Related: Inexpensive space heater reviews and recommendations

    According to the Department of Energy, consumers can knock as much as 1 percent off their heating bill for every degree they turn back the thermostat when they're not at home for eight hours at a stretch. This sounds great, but most people don't diligently turn the temperature up and down during their comings and goings during the day. That's where a

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  • National Food Holiday Calendar: Get Discounts Year-Round

    By Raechel Conover,

    Related: Best hotel chains for budget travelers
    Related: Best wines under $10 a bottle

    Did you know that almost every day of the year is a national food day? From National Doughnut Day to National Bagels and Lox Day, this means big savings on some of your favorites. If you know which food holidays fall in each month, you can keep an eye out for the deals and freebies to pop up as each one approaches. Click through the slides for a quick rundown to help you take advantage of discounted or even free food all year.

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  • The Best Way to Transport a Car Cross Country

    By Louis DeNicola,

    Once you decide to ship a car from one place to another, you need to find a safe and affordable car transport service. The choices range from door-to-door transport via large trailer truck to hiring someone to drive the vehicle to its destination to placing it on a train. After evaluating all the options, you might wonder whether simply driving the car yourself is the most economical way to go.

    People who need to transport a car generally fall into two broad categories: those moving to a new location and those taking an extended trip. This second group, sometimes referred to as "snow birds," often includes older folks who move south for the winter and then back north when the weather warms up. There's such demand for car transport services by snow birds that rates jump on north-south migration routes during the relevant months.

    Related: Best cheap hotel chains

    Considering transporting your car to a different locale?

    We homed in on the group that relocates for the long haul and tried to find the

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  • Best Budget Cruises for Under $65 a Night

    By Louis DeNicola,

    Related: What are the best cheap airlines?
    Related: Best space heaters under $35

    Cruises offer the convenience of entertainment, meals, and activities served up while you sail among magnificent destinations. Because of shifting weather patterns and a lull between summer and holiday travel, October and November are historically low-cost times for taking a cruise. Add to that a couple of years of bad PR for the cruise industry and you get prices that sink even lower than usual. MarketWatch points out that procuring a stateroom on some recent cruises has cost less than staying at a Motel 6.

    Related: Inexpensive car rental companies reviews and recommendations researched cruise ships with modern amenities and many positive recommendations from experts and passengers before narrowing down the fleet to four options that start at less than $65 per person per night. That's the price for an interior stateroom with double occupancy.

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  • Save Money with Simple DIY Car Repairs

    By Louis DeNicola,

    Do-it-yourself car repairs can help you stay on the road and save you hundreds of dollars. That's not chump change when set against the average $3,200 a year it costs to own a car after accounting for taxes, gasoline, insurance -- and, you guessed it -- repairs.

    We spoke with car repair experts and learned that there are several easy fixes you can do at home in a couple of hours, some in less than 30 minutes. With hourly labor rates for mechanics ranging from $50 to more than $120, the savings mount up quickly. Of course, you'll need to buy the parts and perhaps a basic socket or wrench set. The latter will set you back $20-$50, while prices of the former depend on the vehicle, the quality of the parts purchased, and the vendor. But in general, asserts Scotty Kilmer, who runs a YouTube channel with how-to videos and hosts a live Q&A session on Google Hangout with car owners every Saturday morning, DIY auto repairs can save you 50-80 percent of

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  • Live Off the Dollar Store for a Week on a $50 Budget

    By Tahirah Blanding,

    College, unemployment, or an unexpected change in your life situation can mean learning to live off the dollar store. These are times when a major cut in spending is required as you plan how to survive from week to week. We found that it's possible to take care of the essentials, with a dollop of comfort thrown in, for less than $50 a week by shopping at the local dollar store.

    Sure, the dollar store is a pit stop for cheap snacks, cooking supplies, toys, and other small items, but it's also a source for food at one very low price. And yes, there may be a stigma attached to dollar store shopping for all your needs, but it's time to get over it.

    Related: Which cell phone carrier charges the lowest fees

    A dollar can go a long way.

    These super-discount chains can sell items cheaply because they follow a strategy that involves buying non-brand items that aren't backed by enormous advertising budgets, stocking items in smaller sizes, and buying products in bulk from companies that

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  • What Are the Best Dating Apps?

    By Elizabeth Sheer,

    If you're looking for love, it's OK to break up with your computer. The most popular dating sites now offer apps that let you search on the go. Some dating apps are mobile only and others are mobile editions of what were once strictly online sites. Mobile adds an extra fillip to online dating because you can do it anywhere, anytime; the GPS in your mobile device can signal matches that are nearby.

    Online dating is a $2 billion industry, with the mobile segment claiming about one-tenth of that but expected to top $400 million by 2018. Much of this revenue comes from the users, of course. While most dating apps download for free, making a connection usually costs. Subscription prices range from about $10 to $60 a month. Is the dough worth it?

    Related: Reviews and recommendations for the best cheap diet plans

    We spoke with several online daters of all ages (from 21 to 60-ish) and sexual orientations to learn about their experiences with

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  • What Are the Best Daily Deal Apps?

    By Louis DeNicola,

    Whether shopping at home or looking for a place to grab lunch, everyone loves a bargain. That's why daily deal apps are so popular. According to a report by BIA/Kelsey, Americans are expected to spend nearly $5.5 billion in 2016 on daily deal sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial. Such sites have expanded since their humble beginnings several years ago with offers on a wide variety of products, services, and experiences at steep discounts. They've also pushed into the mobile world, allowing users to buy and redeem deals quickly from smartphones.

    Related: What are the best cheap cruises?

    We checked reviews of some daily deal apps to find the best resources for consumers.

    Groupon is, without doubt, king of the daily deal sites. Launched in 2008 and taken public in late 2011, it operates internationally and features hundreds of deals every day.

    Grab a bargain with these daily deal apps.

    The free Groupon app is available for iOS, Android, Blackberry, and Windows phones. Once set up,

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  • Best Budget Laptops for $400 or Less

    By Louis DeNicola,

    Related: Cheap android tablet reviews

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    A consumer looking for a new laptop on a budget is blessed with many choices these days. But with so many configurations out there and expert reviewers focused mostly on pricier machines, it's hard to zero in on a single computer as a good value. The three budget laptops below have garnered enough positive feedback to be featured on as top picks for $400 or less. They may not have the chops for things like 3D gaming, but they're well-equipped for word processing, web surfing, and other everyday tasks.

    Related: Top inexpensive desktop computers

    In addition to the features mentioned, a laptop's weight and battery life are important to consider if you plan to carry it in a backpack or briefcase regularly. The Dell Inspiron 15 weighs 4.96 pounds and Lenovo's G500 totals 5.73 pounds. The Samsung Chromebook takes the cake in this regard, at only

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  • Which College Majors Pay the Least and Which Land You a Job?

    By Elizabeth Sheer,

    Related: Which phone carries offer the lowest fees
    Related: Best laptops under $500

    Many college freshmen have little or no idea what they want to do with their lives after graduation. And stories about the vast numbers of unemployed or underemployed graduates, especially in these post-recession years, do not allay parents' anxieties.

    Several studies, including one published in May by Georgetown University, point out that the choice of college major correlates with employment and earnings, which are both affected by economic cycles. Earning a degree in education, for example, may pave the way toward more job stability but lead to a lower salary than, say, architecture. Overall, students who confine their studies to the arts, humanities, and human services can expect to earn less than those who major in technical fields like engineering, math and computers, the sciences, and business.

    Click through to find out what recent college graduates

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