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  • Cheap Ways to Spay or Neuter Your Pet

    By Raechel Conover,

    It's no secret that a new pet comes with heavy costs in the first year. One of the major expenses involves spaying (females) or neutering (males) your dog or cat. But frugal pet owners needn't fret. There are ways to get this procedure taken care of on the cheap.

    The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reports that dog owners spend roughly $1,300 to $1,850, depending on the animal's size, while cat owners spend about $1,035 during their first year as members of the household. A big chunk of that goes towards spaying and neutering; about $190 to $220 for dogs and $145 for cats.

    Related: How to save money at the vet

    Size and Gender Matter. If you're leaning towards a dog, you may want to forgo a large breed in favor of a small- or medium-size breed. Why? Costs associated with the procedure (sometimes referred to as being "altered") increase with the size of the dog. Lisa Bahr, director of operations for Centre

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  • 4 Best Frozen Diet Meals for Under $4: A Taste Test

    By Louis DeNicola,

    Related: Best low price treadmills

    After a long day, it's easy to reach for the phone and order delivery for dinner. After a month -- even a short one like February -- your credit card bill and scale will reveal the downsides of this habit. And what about the New Year's resolutions you promised to stick to this year? Frozen diet meals aren't always as satisfying, but they are a quick, easy, and relatively healthful solution.

    Related: 4 Best Diet Plans For Tight Budgets

    A tasting panel assembled by put two types of frozen diet cuisine -- pasta with red sauce and enchiladas -- to the test. True to the site's commitment to reviewing inexpensive goods, none of the entrees cost more than $4 and two of the top-rated choices cost only about $2 per serving. That may be more than a home-cooked meal, but it certainly beats takeout.

    More from Cheapism:
    Don't Fall for These 5 Weight-Loss Gimmicks
    5 Best weight-loss apps
    Best running

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  • 10 Subscription Boxes that Deliver the Best Value

    By Raechel Conover,

    Looking to spice up your life on the cheap? Sign up for a subscription box. It's a fun way to try new products (often sample-size) while remaining true to your frugal ways.

    But before proceeding, make sure you will actually use the contents of a subscription box. While they offer substantial value, they're a total waste of money if the items go unused. Also make sure you can cancel if you decide the subscription isn't worth it. And finally, check shipping rates, which can be expensive.

    For Men or Women:

    Birchbox: This is a subscription service that offers boxes for men and for women of sample-size products. Women receive a box of four to five beauty, skincare, and makeup items for $10 a month, while men get four or five grooming products, tech, and lifestyle accessories for $20 a month. Birchbox also maintains an online shop through which you can purchase full-size products if you like the sample. Shipping is free on the boxes and on

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  • Top 6 Free Texting and Messaging Apps

    By Josue Ledesma

    With the explosion of the mobile app market, a phone carrier's costly text messaging service can be replaced by free texting and messaging apps. Most allow users to send free messages only to other users of the same app, but a handful offer the capability to text any phone. The best ones also provide calling services and other expanded functionality beyond messaging. All you need is a data plan or Wi-Fi connection.

    Cheapism has rounded up six of the best free messaging and texting apps. They are ranked based on criteria such as user base, reviews across app stores, and added features such as voice calling. An honorable mention goes to WhatsApp, a popular messaging service with high ratings that's free only for the first year.

    Related: Ultra cheap cell phone plans comparison

    1. Viber. Viber claims more than 200 million users and offers the most functionality of the messaging apps we researched. You can text, call, and send photos and video

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  • 5 Affordable Spring Break Destinations that Are Fun

    By Emily Lugg,

    By the time spring break rolls around, most of us are ready for a change, especially given this winter's record-shattering weather. But the laws of supply and demand put the popular destinations off limits for frugal vacationers. There are deals to be found nonetheless, and here's our list of off-the-beaten track destinations for your well-deserved spring break getaway.

    Related: Best travel sites to score deals

    Curacao, Southern Caribbean

    Curacao, Southern Caribbean. An all-inclusive resort may be the ticket for keeping the tab manageable when travelling to a tropical locale, like Curacao. You know upfront how much you'll be spending and can expect few surprises. All your food, drink, and some recreational activities are included. Many resorts on this island also offer hotel and flight packages, which may save you even more. Run the numbers with airfare and without to ensure you're getting a deal. And when figuring out how far your budget will stretch, remember to factor in

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  • What's the Cheapest Car to Own?

    By Louis DeNicola,

    Searching for a new car? Take heed: Do your homework thoroughly and look beyond the sticker price and amenities to the long-term costs of ownership.

    Rank Cars and Manufacturers by Cost to Own. The exact long-term cost of owning a vehicle is impossible to determine in advance given differences in driving habits and geographic location. Still, useful guidelines, like the cost and frequency of repairs, can help savvy consumers narrow down the choices.

    Related: Toyota Camry hybrid car review

    CarMD ranked 10 carmakers and 100 models according to the number and cost of repairs associated with "check engine" warnings during the year beginning October, 2012; vehicles included in the research were manufactured between 2003 and 2013. Hyundai raced to the head of the pack, followed by Toyota, GM, Chrysler, and Honda. Although GM cars, on average, are cheapest to repair ($304.99 per incident), the higher frequency of repairs parked GM in third place.

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  • 4 Best Sites for Free Tax Online Tax Prep

    By Louis DeNicola,

    If you're dreading tax time because your papers aren't in order or a huge bill is looming, you're not alone. But if you're worried about shelling out extra money to pay for tax preparation software, there may be a free solution. Taxpayers who earned no more than $58,000 last year can access the Internal Revenue Service's Free File program and prepare and e-file federal tax returns online at no charge.

    About 100 million people (70 percent of American taxpayers) meet this requirement, according to the Free File Alliance, which counts 14 participating companies. Among them are well-known brands such as H&R Block and TurboTax. Each provider sets its own rules for who is eligible within the IRS income limit. Some set lower income levels and have age and location requirements. To avoid these restrictions, filers can opt for "value-added" versions of the software that aren't part of the Free File program. These still include free e-filing for federal

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  • 5 Best Ultra Cheap Chinese Smartphones

    By Josue Ledesma

    China's mobile phone tech sector is on the rise. Many brands are little known but synonymous with cheap prices. Indeed, several websites sell unlocked Chinese smartphones at prices far below what you'd normally pay for the hot sellers here. Some Chinese mobile phones are similar in appearance to those we know and love while others are completely original, with most, if not all, of the functionalities we crave.

    Related: Ultra-cheap cell phone plan comparison

    Although there are dirt-cheap Chinese-brand smartphones, our research found that prices on the devices you'd consider buying parallel the budget phones available in the United States -- with few improvements. The models discussed below feature at least 1GB of RAM (which lets the phone perform more functions at a reasonable speed) and run on the 4.2 Android operating system. (We could not find any with a 4.3 or 4.4 OS.) The brands are listed in rank order, starting with the best of the bunch.

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  • 3 Best Car Seats Under $100

    By Louis DeNicola,

    Related: 6 most affordable cities in the US to raise a family

    From diapers to clothing and all sorts of other necessities, raising a child drains your resources. Already strapped for cash, parents must purchase multiple car seats to comply with safety guidelines as children grow. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should ride in rear-facing seats until they are at least 2 years old -- long after they've outgrown a baby seat. With a convertible car seat, parents can safely ferry children around town facing backward and switch to a front-facing position when they're ready.

    Related: How to cut baby costs the second time around

    Just having the right car seat doesn't guarantee safety, however. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration links thousands of injuries and deaths to seats that have been installed incorrectly. Nearly all car seats, and all vehicles manufactured since 2002, come with the LATCH system. This

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  • 9 Contracts that Are Hard to Cancel (and How to Cancel Them)

    By Josue Ledesma

    Contracts are a standard part of doing business, one that obligates both parties to the stated terms. As customers know all too well, trying to end the relationship before the expiration date usually incurs a penalty, typically called an "early termination fee" (ETF). Adding insult to injury, some companies make it very difficult to cancel a contract.

    Here's a short guide to the cancellation policies adopted by mobile phone companies, gyms, and credit-reporting agencies.

    Mobile Phone Companies.

    AT&T: The early termination fee for smartphones starts at $325 and drops by $10 for each month of service completed. For feature phones, the initial ETF is $150 and falls by $4 a month.

    Related: How to save over $400 a month

    T-Mobile: The carrier's newest plans come with no contract and therefore no ETF, but customers are on the hook for the remaining cost of any (unsubsidized) phones they haven't already paid off. For customers with older

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