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10 Places Smart Students Look for Discounts

Posted on 8/4/2015 9:10 EST

A student ID can do more than just get you around campus -- it can save money at many businesses. Don't be shy about flashing your ID or .edu email address when making purchases. With these discounts, students on a budget can dress, eat, travel, and live better for less. Read More

Finding the Best Roadside Assistance Plan

Posted on 8/4/2015 8:43 EST

AAA may be the best-known provider of roadside assistance, with more than 50 million members, but it has plenty of competition. Numerous insurance firms, automakers, oil companies, and even cellphone service providers offer assistance plans for emergencies on the road. Most plans cover the basic problems, such as dead batteries, flat tires, empty gas tanks, lockouts, and mechanical breakdowns that require a tow. The fees and details for these services vary, though. Here's a closer look at some of the most popular plans -- including some coverage you may already have. Read More

When Is It Worth Buying Organic?

Posted on 8/4/2015 8:00 EST

Unlike food labels such as "natural" and "free range," use of the word "organic" is strictly regulated. The U.S. Department of Agriculture certifies products as organic if they meet a set of standards, including, but not limited to, using 100 percent organic feed for animals and zero use of synthetic fertilizers, certain pesticides, and genetically modified organisms for fruits and vegetables. Organic proponents generally tout benefits such as higher nutritional value and better taste; less contamination from toxins, chemicals, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria; and less damage to the environment. These claims are hard to verify and are subject to much debate. One factor about which there is no doubt: Organic products typically cost more. Is organic worth it? Read More

11 Online Consignment Stores You Need for Back-to-School

Posted on 8/3/2015 9:15 EST

Kids' clothes are a major expense that can drain parents' budgets faster than Legos, Monster High dolls, and junk food combined. Children outgrow their clothes well before they're worn out and sometimes even before the tags are removed. But with the new school year looming, parents can turn to a crop of online vendors that accept gently used and new clothing for resale and share the earnings. This also means like-new kids' clothes are available at budget prices. On these 11 sites, parents can consign what doesn't fit and buy what does. Read More

Should You Refinance Your Student Loans?

Posted on 8/3/2015 8:39 EST

Student loan debt has surpassed $1.2 trillion, ticking up several thousand dollars per second, according to FinAid.org. For recent graduates entering the workforce, the average loan for a bachelor's degree amounts to more than $35,000. Failure to repay can lower credit scores and lead to garnished wages and legal action; this debt can't be eliminated through bankruptcy. One way to make loans easier to manage, and potentially decrease the financial burden, is to refinance. Read More

Don't Miss 19 of America's Most Underrated National Parks

Posted on 8/3/2015 8:01 EST

From lush forests to surreal deserts, frozen glaciers to idyllic beaches, America's many national parks can give visitors a breath of fresh air -- or suffocate them with crowds. All-stars such as Yosemite and the Grand Canyon attract millions of people a year; Great Smoky Mountains National Park saw more than 10 million visitors in 2014. The incredible, underrated parks on this list welcome as few as 14,000 each year. Some are less popular because a remote location makes them harder to access, or their rugged terrain scares away newbies. Others are overshadowed by a more famous neighboring park. Still others are local favorites that remain hidden gems. Entrance fees are typically lower at these overlooked parks, and a fee-free day is coming up on Aug. 25. For the 2015-16 school year, the Every Kid in a Park program gives fourth-graders and their families free admission. Read More

Weekly Update: Back-to-School Savings and More

Posted on 7/31/2015 16:20 EST

School is starting to creep back into everyone's consciousness as July comes to a close. Start preparing by taking advantage of early deals and finding what you need to furnish a dorm room on the cheap. Still, there's plenty of time to revel in the last days of summer. Have you checked off everything on our list of 25 things to do? Also on the Cheapism blog this week: bizarre money-saving techniques, shopping at the farmers market, and more. Read More

What to Buy in August

Posted on 7/31/2015 9:05 EST

August is all about back-to-school deals. Even frugal shoppers without school-age kids know they can find big discounts this month on items such as laptop bundles and home office supplies. This is also the beginning of the end of summer, so August bargains include seasonal products. If your lawn mower has mowed its last, for example, add a new one to your list and buy it now. Cheapism.com identified a variety of items you'll find at cut-rate prices this month. Read More

6 Ways to Save on Essential Oils

Posted on 7/31/2015 8:47 EST

Essential oils are used most commonly for minor therapeutic purposes, from soothing an upset stomach to boosting energy to alleviating pain to inducing sleep, and so on. For consumers who abide by the oils' perceived powers, taking the cure requires no small investment. One 15ml bottle can run anywhere from $10 to nearly $100, with the average price hovering around $20. The cost of a few bottles adds up quickly, which puts a premium on getting the most out of each drop. These tips can help. Read More

12 Chains Where Drink Refills Are Free

Posted on 7/31/2015 7:55 EST

Soft drinks, coffees, and teas are key money makers for most restaurants. Marked up significantly to maximize revenues, beverages manage to drain customers' wallets at the same time. Most cheap guides to dining out recommend that you stick to tap water, but if you're at an establishment that offers free refills, a relatively pricey order instantly turns into a value buy. Read More

25 Things to Do Before the End of Summer

Posted on 7/30/2015 13:31 EST

Summer ends Sept. 22, and although it seems like the season flies by, there's still time for summery activities. Take advantage of free and low-cost offerings in your area, and get some practical stuff done. Here are 25 things to do before the weather turns and the school year starts. Read More

Spending Diary: Why I Shop at Farmers Markets

Posted on 7/30/2015 8:02 EST

The first sign of summer, to me, is strawberries. I don't eat fruit out of season, and come April I am thoroughly sick of oranges. By the time the first week of June rolls around, I have a strawberry jones so great that I would pay a fortune for a basket of fresh, red beauties. But I don't have to do that. All I have to do is go to the farmers market, where the first harvest this year set me back $7 for a quart basket. I can easily eat a quart in one sitting, and I ate half on the way to the car. By contrast, strawberries in the supermarket at that time were $6 a quart, with a special for a second quart at half price. Yes, the farmers market was more expensive, but there's no comparison in taste between those grown locally and those shipped thousands of miles from California. Read More

50 Tips for Back-to-School Savings

Posted on 7/29/2015 16:46 EST

American families plan to spend an average of about $630 this year on back-to-school expenses for kindergarten through high school kids, according to an annual survey by the National Retail Federation. Lump in college students, and total spending is projected to reach $68 billion. Cheapism.com has compiled a list of top savings tips to help shave some expenses in the months ahead. Read More

13 Steps to Painting a Room Like a Pro

Posted on 7/29/2015 8:38 EST

The easiest and cheapest way to renovate a room is to paint it, but hiring a professional can still cost $300 to $400. Homeowners can do the same job themselves for about $150. Sure, there's more to painting than just picking a color and slapping it on the wall. It's best to take a day to prep before you start to paint, for example; you want walls to be in the best possible shape before they see a new color. But with the proper prep work and a few tips, a DIY job can look perfect and last for years. Read More

How to Furnish a Dorm Room on a Budget

Posted on 7/28/2015 10:30 EST

After paying for books, not to mention school itself, there isn't much left over for dorm room décor. But consider this a lesson in practicality: Once May rolls around, everything in the room must be cleared out, which is a giant incentive to decorate on the cheap. Many retailers are now running “back to college” specials. Here’s where to find 10 dorm room essentials on a budget. Read More

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