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  • 10 Essential Money-Saving Tools

    By Kara Reinhardt,

    Every day, it seems, a new digital destination promises to save consumers money. But who has time to cycle through a lengthy roster of bookmarks in search of deals? The latest issue of ShopSmart magazine winnows the field to 10 indispensable sites (well, 20 if you count a sidebar with 10 honorable mentions).

    Related: What's the best daily deals app

    Savvy bargain hunters will already know some of the featured websites well, but there's no denying they are tried-and-true sources for low prices. In some cases, ShopSmart drills down past a high-profile home page to spotlight a resource such as Amazon's coupon section, where customers can "clip" coupons that are automatically applied at checkout.

    "We thought this was a really interesting new development," said Jody Rohlena, the magazine's deputy editor. She pointed to the eBay Deals page, full of discounted items with free shipping, as another example of an established player coming up with a new

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  • Declutter Your Bills: 3 Steps to Save You Money

    By Louis DeNicola,

    Are you sitting in the midst of stacks of documents and receipts, trying to get organized before filing your income tax return? As you wade through the data, you might find yourself shocked at how much you paid for insurance, phone service, and the cable connection. You can't go back in time and change things, but it's never too late to take steps to change the future. With just a few simple actions you can lower the prices you pay for subscriptions and organize the bills and papers that quickly pile up.

    Related: 10 easy tax write-offs for the self-employed

    Get Your Papers in Order. Set aside a day, or two, to get rid of your paper pileup. Investing in a good scanner or spending a few dollars on a smartphone scanning app, such as DocScanner or ScannerPro, is the first step. Next, you'll organize papers into three piles: file, scan, and toss.

    • File. This pile is for the must-save documents, like birth certificates and passports. Buy a
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  • 7 Steps to Landing a College Scholarship

    By Emily Lugg,

    There is such a thing as free money when it comes to paying for college -- if you know where to look. Between merit-based scholarships and grants for students in financial need, there is an abundance of college scholarships available to both rising and current students. A little time and dedication may pay off in the form of funding for a significant portion of your college tuition. Just remember that grants and scholarships are free, whereas loans must be paid back.

    Related: Where and how to get the best deals on college textbooks

    Contact your high school guidance counselor. If you are an upcoming first-year student, make a date with your high school guidance counselor. He or she can point you towards the best resources for identifying scholarships you may be eligible for based on your geographic region, grades, and achievements. The counselor may also have historical data on specific grants and scholarships that indicate previous students'

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  • Why Now is the Time to Sign Up for Amazon Prime

    By Emily Lugg,

    Amazon is upping the cost of a yearly Prime membership to $99 from $79, a 25 percent increase, and raising the Amazon Prime price for students to $49 from $39. Despite the higher prices, the benefits remain the same: free two-day shipping on "millions" of items, Prime Instant Video (Amazon's answer to Netflix), and access to the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. Still, a membership is worth the higher fee for many consumers -- and there are ways around the price hike if you act fast.

    For starters, customers who sign up for a free 30-day trial by March 19 can secure the $79 rate for one year. Current memberships that expire before April 17 also carry the option of one more year at the $79 price. If your membership comes up for renewal after that date, however, your next bill will reflect the increase.

    Related: Online shipping: which retailer has the best rates?

    We've seen some creative suggestions for circumventing the hike, if only temporarily. A

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  • 4 Ways to Teach Your Kids About Frugality

    By Elizabeth Sheer,

    "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" was, at one time, the modus operandi of many families in America. Since then, we've become a consumer-oriented, throw-away society that is prompting some pushback. In the face of rampant consumerism, how can we teach our kids to save?

    Be a Role Model. Imparting thriftiness, says Dr. Adrienne Gans, a clinical psychologist in New York City, involves setting an example. "It means self-control and self-regulation as opposed to immediate gratification," she explains. "Learning to be frugal entails absorbing the internal qualities rather than the outward behaviors."

    Related: 7 tips to help your family save for a summer vacation

    Case in point: As a child, Lilly Slaydon longed for an American Girl doll, which her parents could not afford. The Los Angeles resident says she saved her allowance and birthday and holiday money and performed assorted chores for close to two years until accumulating

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  • 4 Best Upright Vacuum Cleaners Under $150

    By Louis DeNicola,

    Related: Best smartphones under $50

    Knock, knock. If you're not expecting a guest or package or pizza delivery, do you answer the door? It could be a Girl Scout selling $5 cookies -- or it could be a salesman selling a $1,500 vacuum. It's hard to justify spending that much no matter how well the vacuum works. Consumers on the lookout for a new cleaning machine can find many good choices for a fraction of the price.

    Related: Which home super-store is better : Lowe's or Home Depot? compared features and reviews of upright vacuums to find the best models available for less than $150. All four recommended vacuums include hose attachments, such as crevice tools and dusting brushes, as well as extension wands to help users vacuum hard-to-reach spots. Two models use bags to collect debris and the other two are bagless. Each type has its advantages, and the choice comes down to personal preference: Some shoppers would rather have a

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  • 10 Free Prom Apps to Help You Plan a Perfect Night

    By Elizabeth Sheer,

    For students of a certain age, the end of the school year is synonymous with prom. Whether attending this penultimate high school event in a group or with a date, it's a can't-miss opportunity to glam yourself up. Making a statement is what it's all about, and for most girls that starts with the dress. But it doesn't end there. The guys need a tux (or suit) and the entire evening needs a plan. We found several free prom apps that can get you there in style and on budget.

    One caveat: Our research revealed that most free prom apps have problems loading, force close, or black out at times. The reviews we read indicate that these issues are particularly notable on Android devices. We tested all the apps mentioned here and didn't have any problems, but even if you do, these are free prom apps so you have nothing to lose by giving them a whirl.

    Related: 7 tips to help prep your teen for prom

    Prom Plans. Before you do anything else, you'll have to

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  • 7 Tips to Help You Save for a Summer Vacation

    By Emily Lugg,

    Planning ahead for your summer vacation can save you money and simultaneously make the costs more manageable. If you budget year-round for the family summer vacation, you won't find yourself scrounging to cover the expenses all at once.

    The following tips can help you set aside funds all year and may even open the door to vacation options you didn't think you could afford.

    Related: 8 cheap summer family vacation ideas

    Set up a separate savings account. Put the money you're saving for summer vacation in a separate bank account and leave it untouched until vacation bills come due. You may be able to set up an automatic deposit from your paycheck directly into the summer savings account. This is a safeguard against forgetting to put money into the proverbial cookie jar every pay period or choosing to spend it on something else.

    Skip one dinner out a week. Even saving $20 a week by forgoing that casual restaurant meal adds up to an impressive sum

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  • How to Dress like a Hipster on the Cheap

    By Jeremy Bender,

    The hipster image arose when the latest generation of cool kids cultivated a style outside the mainstream. Now that style has, ironically, gone mainstream. Trappings that used to be alternative have turned up in malls across America, priced at a premium. Let's just say that if you're shopping for "hipster" gear at a mass-market retailer, you're doing it wrong (unless you're buying something "normal" and uncool -- it gets confusing). Here are some tips to help you pull off the look cheaply and easily.

    Related: What HBO's 'Girls' can teach fans about frugality

    Avoid the major shopping outlets. To look like a bona fide hipster, no special brands or items are required. Rather, a general attitude and look are the defining elements. This means that any aspiring hipster should skip right on past the pricey name-brand stores. Counterintuitively, it also means steering clear of the thrift stores that get attention and draw in the crowds. Although these

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  • Online Shipping: Which Retailer Has the Best Rates

    By Elizabeth Sheer,

    The online shopper's lament: You find a world-class bargain and then reality hits at checkout, where you discover that shipping charges add so much to the total that you're saving no money at all. And if you choose express or expedited shipping, the fee may cost more than the item itself. Adding to the general sense of dismay, neither shipping costs nor delivery times are standardized in the e-commerce world. So what's a shopper to do?

    Related: 7 keys to successful price-matching

    We researched shipping fees and policies at 10 of the largest retailers to help you wade through the morass. We looked into costs, minimum order size that qualifies for free shipping, availability of free in-store pickup, estimated delivery time, and information transparency. After considering these factors we determined that Best Buy holds a whisker-thin edge with the most customer-friendly fees and policies, including no-charge delivery on orders greater than $25

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