Blog Posts by Cheapism.com

  • Too Hot to Cook? Try These Cheap Summer Recipes

    By Louis DeNicola, Cheapism.com

    The best, and cheapest, summer recipes don't require turning on the oven or stovetop but still result in delicious and refreshing dishes. Take advantage of freshly harvested vegetables and fruits and savor the colors, smells, and flavors they bring to the table. We've gathered tasty dishes from several sources and combined them into a full-meal menu, minus the cooking bits.

    Use seasonal ingredients to make delicious meals.

    Related: Cheap cookware buying guide

    Salad. For the starter we found a black-bean-based salad recipe on ForTheLoveOfCooking.net that incorporates avocado, tomatoes, red onion, and cilantro. This dish earns top billing in terms of ingredients and maximum 10-minute preparation time. The recipe suggests proportions for a dish that serves six, but the basis of this salad can be easily expanded and used for a party of any size. A can of black beans, avocados, grape tomatoes, and red onion constitute the heartiest portion of the salad. Lime juice, garlic, and fresh cilantro kick

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  • Best GPS Devices for Frugal Drivers

    By Louis DeNicola, Cheapism.com

    These days, if you ask someone for directions, they're likely to pull out a smartphone and fire up a mapping application. But as Apple's "mapgate" showed, smartphones don't always deliver the best navigation solutions. This is especially true when driving, which is why many people stick with GPS units designed specifically for navigating roadways. Moreover, in places where it's illegal to talk or text on a mobile device while driving, using a navigation app without a mount or a helpful passenger can lead to a hefty fine.

    A cheap GPS navigational system can take you anywhere.

    Related: Cheap kid's clothes buying guide

    Still, it doesn't always make sense to spend big money on a dedicated GPS device, so take the budget route instead. Cheapism.com has identified three options, all modestly priced below $120 and designed to provide driving directions loud and clear:

    The Garmin Nuvi 40LM (starting at $90) is considered the best of the entry-level Garmin GPS units by some expert reviewers. Consumers

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  • Beat the Heat: Cheap and Refreshing Summer Drinks

    By Raechel Conover, Cheapism.com

    In the heat of summer, nothing tastes better than a cold summer drink -- not necessarily an alcoholic beverage, which will only dehydrate you more, but a simple, cold, refreshing brew. The summer drinks we have in mind are made with water, fruits, and herbs -- surprisingly tasty, very low cost, and guaranteed to slake your thirst throughout the hot months.

    Related: Our cheap sunglasses buying guide

    Flavored Water. Flavored water (we're talking here about the homemade kind, with real ingredients) is all the rage this summer and for good reason: It's easy and cheap to make, it spices up plain old water, and it promotes hydration and well being. This summer drink also lacks all the artificial flavorings found in the store-bought variety.

    Flavored water is an excellent summer drink.

    Anyone can make flavored water. Use the fruits and herbs you have on hand and you can't go wrong. But if you're in need of inspiration, The Yummy Life serves up several summer drink recipes for you to try,

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  • Considering a Chromebook? Read This First

    By Michael Sweet, Cheapism.com

    Consumers will see attractively priced Chromebooks on a lot more store shelves this summer. The portable computers, which feature an operating system from Google and hardware from the likes of HP and Samsung, have arrived at retailers including Walmart and Staples. Google announced in mid-June that Walmart would sell Acer's newest C7 Chromebook for a mere $199. Office Depot, OfficeMax, and other retailers are also joining the Chromebook crew, which already includes Best Buy and online outlets such as Amazon.

    A Chromebook might better suit your needs.

    Related: Best cheap laptops recommendations

    What is a Chromebook, exactly? Chromebooks are not your usual budget laptops. They use Google's Chrome operating system (basically a fancy version of the company's Chrome web browser) and are designed to be online devices closely integrated with the Google universe (Gmail, Google Drive, etc.). Users store most of their files on the company's cloud servers and use Chrome apps or extensions and

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  • How to Beat the Heat and Keep the Paycheck

    By Louis DeNicola, Cheapism.com

    It seems that every week we hear of another record breaking high temperature. Beating the heat over the summer while keeping a lid on the air conditioning bill can be a challenge. We researched ways to stay cool without the aid of AC and then reached out to Suzanne Jones, vice president of the Association of Energy Service Professionals for further tips.

    Related: Cheap air conditioners buying guide

    Draw the shades… when the sun is shining into the house. Investing in dark curtains may be worthwhile, especially if your windows are now bare. Jones also suggests solar screens, which can be installed and removed easily and have a variety of ratings for how much light and heat they let through. The upfront cost may be outweighed by savings on energy bills.

    Beat the heat with an inexpensive air conditioner.

    Close windows… except at night. Opening windows at night lets cool air in while closing them in the morning (before the sun comes up, if possible) can help beat the heat during the day.

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  • Best Inexpensive Riding Mowers for Summer 2013

    By Louis DeNicola, Cheapism.com

    Lawn care is a non-stop chore. For anything more than a small patch of green out front or back in need of weekly (or more) trimming, hopping on a riding mower or lawn tractor might actually make the task fun. This alternative to a push mower can be pricey -- some models cost more than a motorcycle -- but Cheapism.com hacked its way through the brush to find several lawn tractors that garner positive reviews from drivers and go for $1,500 or less.

    Use a riding lawn mower to cut grass in a big yard.

    Related: Cheap garden centers buying guide

    The Ariens 960460056 (starting at $1,399) lets riders sit back and relax while the machine moseys along in cruise control at a top speed of 5.2 mph. The steel-based mower's 46-inch cutting deck is backed by a V-twin Briggs & Stratton 22 hp engine (most budget riding mowers come with single-cylinder engines) that makes cutting the grass a breeze, according to online reviews. The deck washout port allows for easy cleaning and the 16-inch turning radius and

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  • Best Things to Buy in July

    By Raechel Conover, Cheapism.com

    In case you're wondering, there are simple answers for what to buy in July. The Independence Day holiday is a turning point and once past, retailers start setting their sights on fall, which makes July a good shopping month to snatch up deals on mattresses, paint, jewelry, grills, and more. July is also National Ice Cream Month, as well as the height of the summer fruit and vegetable season. If you want to be really frugal and enjoy fresh produce for months to come, stock up now and freeze for later. Not sure how? Check out our Freezing Food to Save Money blog post.

    Swimwear prices are starting to drop.

    Related: Cheap air conditioner reviews and recommendations

    Furniture and Mattresses. Come August, the second semi-annual wave of new furniture models will hit stores. To make room on the showroom floor, furniture retailers must rid themselves of current inventory. Look for big discounts on furniture this month.

    As far as mattresses go, just like Memorial Day and Labor Day, the 4th of July

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  • Tired of Fees? Which Airlines to Fly

    By Louis DeNicola, Cheapism.com

    Online services have made it easy to compare airfares and find the lowest ticket prices. But for travelers who don't factor in fees for "optional services," the overall cost of a flight can be surprisingly high. What used to come standard -- a carry-on bag or beverage, for instance -- may now come at a cost.
    Related: Best cheap airlines
    This summer Frontier Airlines will become the latest to start charging for those amenities. At the same time, existing fees are rising. United Airlines, US Airways, Delta Air Lines, and American Airlines have all hiked their domestic change fees to $200 -- reason enough to do a little research before you buy. Cheapism.com has compiled detailed charts comparing a range of airline fees levied by 12 U.S. carriers and picked the best and worst when it comes to extra charges. Here are the rankings, with fees listed for domestic flights in the lowest fare class.
    More from Cheapism:

    Top travel sites to grab deals

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  • How to Avoid Overdraft Fees

    By Louis DeNicola, Cheapism.com

    Bank customers who overdraw their accounts pay an average of $225 per year in fees, according to a recent government report. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has released findings from an inquiry into overdraft protection programs, which allow transactions to be approved even when there isn't enough money in a consumer's checking account to cover them. It's rare to find a bank with no overdraft fees, but consumers can take a simple measure to avoid these charges: Don't opt in.

    Related: Our cheap eyeglasses guide

    In 2010 the Federal Reserve started requiring banks to let consumers decide whether or not they wanted to opt in to overdraft protection. "Protection" is a bit of a misnomer; in reality consumers are opting in to "overdraft allowance." They're giving the bank the go-ahead to approve a debit-card purchase, for instance, even when there aren't sufficient funds available and transfer money from a savings account or credit card to

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  • 6 Cheap Pets to Keep You Company

    By Louis DeNicola, Cheapism.com

    If you're looking for a new best friend, consider a cheap pet. A pet provides companionship, entertainment, and love. And while the expected cost of care may seem like a burden, some pets that are cheap to own are sure to delight children.

    Cheapism's list of six pets that won't devour the household budget includes insects, reptiles, fish, and even a crustacean. They're all relatively low maintenance, as most cheap pets are, but will provide years of affection and camaraderie.

    Goldfish

    Related: Best cheap handheld vacuum cleaners

    Goldfish. A classic first pet, a goldfish adds life and beauty to the room without requiring much attention from its owners. Goldfish can live for more than 20 years, have a memory-span of at least three months, and can be taught to perform tricks. Their vision is surprisingly sharp and allows them to distinguish between people and eventually learn who you are; don't be surprised if, after a while, they swim over to ask for

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