Posted on 6/17/2013 13:38 EST
With a free navigation app guiding your way, say sayonara to getting lost. Whether you're an Android or iPhone user, at least one of these apps should meet your directional needs. And in many situations, a navigation app beats out the GPS alternative.
Google Maps App.
The Google Maps app is a multipurpose navigation platform that gives turn-by-turn
voice prompts and clues you in about where to stop with reviews of restaurants, bars, retailers, etc. It provides routes for walking, driving, and public transit, as well as live traffic reports with an accurate view of where you are or where you're heading. With the iPhone version you should be able to sign into your Google account to sync searches, directions, and favorite places between computer and mobile phone.
PC Mag gives Google Maps App a score of 4 out of 5, a level the editors deem "excellent." They note that the car navigation could use some work (e.g., speed limit display and lane assistance would be useful), but other features (e.g., accurate routing for walkers and drivers, sharp street views) make it a best pick among iPhone navigation apps. Reviewers for the Android version who posted at Google Play award this app an average 4.4 out of 5. Most applaud the accuracy but grumble about its memory-hogging
Photo by visuall2/Shutterstock
Scout GPS Navigation and Traffic App.
The Scout GPS Navigation and Traffic App claims to be as much about the journey as the destination. This free navigation app provides commute times, up-to-date
traffic information, and voice turn-by-turn
directions and lets you choose routes without tolls or highways. If using Scout while driving, you can keep your focus on the road by speaking to the app and asking to view saved maps or directions. You can also let folks know your estimated time of arrival with a tap on "share ETA." Of course, the app is loaded with plenty of POIs.
The experts at PC Mag assign it a "good" rating (3.5 out of 5) and list it as one of the best navigation app for iPhones. The review lauds the timely voice prompts, clear visual cues, and easy-to-understand
interface but notes the absence of aids like walking directions and 3D lane assist; it calls the voice prompts "choppy." At Google Play, Android users give the free navigation app an average 4.3 out of 5. Many reviewers assert it makes traveling more fun and is driver-friendly
, although complaints about frequent crashes are common.
Waze Social GPS Maps & Traffic App.
Waze is a bit different from the other free navigations apps listed here -- this one is community-driven
, which means some 50 million users update the app about road incidents, such as accidents, hazards, police activity, and current traffic conditions. Waze automatically reroutes you based on the data and pinpoints the cheapest gas stations based on your location.
Once a favorite free iPhone navigation app of the reviewer at Lifehacker, Waze has been displaced Google Maps. The reviewer reports that it can seem cluttered and some users aren't keen on the directions, but he high-fives
traffic information. iPhone users give the latest version 4.5 stars out of 5 and users of the Android app rate it a 4.6, noting how it helps them avoid bad road conditions. Users also appreciate the opportunity to give back by providing real-time
updates. One downside: Android users report frequent crashes.
HopStop Transit Directions Map.
HopStop veers away from the free navigation apps crowd with its purpose of getting you to your destination via public transportation, be it bus, subway, taxi -- or foot. Using this app you'll find the nearest station and the cost of taxis, get biking directions in select cities (New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, and San Francisco), locate handicap-accessible
routes, and see the number of calories you're burning and the amount of carbon emissions you're saving. And for good measure, you can save your searches.
Android users give HopStop Transit Directions App a score of 4.2 at Google Play. Many tourists who visited major cities, such as New York and Chicago, claim the app helped them get around almost like a native. Locals, on the other hand, say the app doesn't always list the most efficient routes. Another gripe concerns crashes and error messages. At the iTunes store, iPhone users assign it 4.5 out of 5 stars and say the app never steers them wrong.
Posted on 6/14/2013 14:56 EST
Don't forget Father's Day this weekend -- surprise dad with a cooking accessory for the grill. Get ready for a summer road-trip with money saving gas apps and hit the beach along the way with a pair of cheap water shoes. Stay connected on the road with data and Wi-Fi while browsing free job search websites for a new career path upon return.
Find your next job with the help of a good free job search website, your own hard work and perseverance. Our brief review identifies the top websites and describes important features.
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When playing in the sand or diving into water sports, make sure your feet are properly protected. Check our roundup of the top cheap water shoes and sandals for men, women, and kids.
Whether you're traveling domestically or abroad there are cheap and free Wi-Fi
and data options available. Find out how to stay connected during your trip.
The right accessories make grilling all the more enjoyable. We found five cheap and useful utensils that even grill aficionados can appreciate.
Cruise down the hi-ways
this summer without busting the bank. These five gas apps help steer you towards the cheapest nearby gas stations.
Posted on 6/14/2013 11:36 EST
This week's picks for top travel deals include a Dublin & London vacation and a beach resort.
1. Dublin & London Vacation 30% Off
Get to know London and Dublin at your own pace on this eight-day vacation. Deal includes roundtrip airfare and hotel accommodations.
Dublin & London Vacation
(Groupon $1,399, 30% off from $1,999 - $600 savings)
2. Beach Resort 52% Off
Escape from everyday responsibilities to this beach resort in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Deal includes a couples massage, three daily meals, daily-refill mini bar, daily alcoholic beverages and 24-hour room service.
(LivingSocial $799, 52% off from $1,666 - $867 savings)
Posted on 6/13/2013 13:05 EST
With summer travel in full swing, now's the time to get acquainted with the best money-saving gas apps. We took the guesswork out of choosing among the plentiful supply and compiled a list of the best gas apps. Each has its pros and cons, but any, or all, should have you speeding along cheaply to your summer destinations. Better yet, they're all free.
Unpassable in the fast lane of gas apps, GasBuddy helps you locate nearby gas stations and supplies real-time
gas prices. How are prices so accurate? This best gas app motivates the community of users to update prices with weekly offerings for the chance to win $250 worth of gas.
Pros and Cons:
GasBuddy garners nearly all positive reviews and a 5-star rating. iPhone users who commented in the iTunes store say the gas app is extremely user friendly, the navigation feature works like a charm, and prices are almost always accurate. Blackberry users who posted reviews on App World praise its accuracy and say the gas app saves them big time.
iPhone, Android, Blackberry
Zooming into the fast lane, Waze has already made a big impact on the driving community. As a social media driving app, Waze uses a community approach to "Outsmarting traffic, together" (its slogan) by asking users to report traffic issues; the navigation system then reroutes you when road conditions change. Waze also lets drivers report real-time
gas prices, which clears the path to taking the cheapest route. Additionally, Waze users get special discounts at select gas stations.
Pros and Cons:
Most app users are true Waze believers, and like how interactive and personalized it is. What makes this a best gas app is the opportunity to choose a route that avoids traffic and/or one that saves money on fuel.
A gas app that reports gas prices and helps you locate businesses, such as bars, restaurants, hotels, and doctors, YP Mobile (YP stands for Yellow Pages) is a best gas app that saves users money while on the go.
Pros and Cons:
YP Mobile gets mostly positive reviews at the Google Play app store, but some say this best gas app runs a little slow and occasionally lists businesses that have moved or shut down. Aside from these few gripes, most users report success in finding the lowest gas prices nearby.
iPhone, Android, Blackberry, other smartphone devices
Gas Guru, another app brought to you by YellowPages.com, focuses primarily on finding cheap gas prices. Based on your location (or your saved "favorite" location), the gas app identifies the cheapest gas stations and labels them best, good, or other. "Best" means the prices at that particular station are among the top 20 percent of cheapest gas stations, "good" means they're in the top 50 percent, and "other" means the station's prices fall outside the top 60 percent.
Pros and Cons:
Gas Guru gets a big nod of approval from Appolicious, which says this best gas app is very useful in scouting out cheap gas stations and can help drivers plan an entire outing based on the cheapest fuel stops. Most users applaud its accuracy but some reviewers report kinks with the GPS.
AAA Mobile encompasses the functions of three apps: AAA Discounts, AAA Roadside and AAA TripTik Mobile. The TripTik feature focuses on trip planning and directions, but also provides gas station locations and current fuel prices and helps users find accommodations, restaurants, attractions, and more. The AAA Mobile app lets users request roadside assistance if they're AAA members and can locate member discounts.
Pros and Cons:
AAA Mobile ranks last on our list because users in both the iTunes and Google Play app stores write that the gas app just doesn't meet AAA standards. Many users complain of frequent crashes and hard-to-use
Free (even for non-AAA
||iPhone, Android, Blackberry
||5 stars current version, 5 all versions
||4.6; 432,793 reviews
||4.5; 8,146 reviews
||5 stars current version, 4.5 all versions
||4.6; 601,151 reviews
|3. YP Mobile
||iPhone, Android, Blackberry, other
||4.5 current version, 4.5 all versions
||4.5; 74,200 reviews
||3.5; 91 reviews
|4. Gas Guru
||4.5 current version, 4.5 all versions
||4.4; 935 reviews
|5. AAA Mobile
||4 current version, 3 all versions
Posted on 6/13/2013 10:30 EST
This week's top picks for health, fashion and beauty deals include an ASICS women's track shoes deal, a nail shaping kit and a caffeine tablet lot.
1. ASICS Women's Track Shoes 55% Off
These stylish lightweight ASICS track shoes are built with sprinters and jumpers in mind. Choose from 2 styles with free shipping and returns.
ASICS Women's Track Shoes
(Groupon $44.99, 55% off from $99.99 - $55.00 savings)
2. Nail Shaping Kit 55% Off
3. Caffeine Tablet Lot 45% Off
Get two 100-count Prolab bottles for the price of one. Each tablet has 200mg of pure caffeine.
Caffeine Tablet Lot
(Groupon $11.99, 45% off from $21.98 - $9.99 savings)
Posted on 6/12/2013 13:37 EST
To make your outdoor cooking experience even more enjoyable, load up with these cheap grilling accessories. We found five helpful grilling utensils for less than $12 and one for nearly double that.
Weber 6432 Silicone Basting Brush
The Weber 6432 Silicone Basting Brush is a penny shy of $10 and a best seller in the "meat & poultry basters" category at Amazon. A cheap grilling accessory that wins 4.7 stars out of 5, this stainless steel basting brush has silicone bristles and safely goes in the dishwasher. Reviewers say it comes at a very reasonable price given the stainless steel handle and easy clean up. And, it neatly holds the juices and flavors that you'll be slathering on food as it grills.
Brinkmann Stainless Steel Grilling Tongs get a cool grip, for just $5, on whatever you happen to be grilling. Made of stainless steel with hardwood handles, the tongs are easy to clean and can be locked when not in use. This cheap grilling accessory garners a 5-star rating at Home Depot.
Fire Wire Stainless Steel Flexible Grilling Skewers hold more meat and vegetables than you could possibly string on a traditional straight skewer. Each skewer is curved and flexible, so you can bend it to fit the grill and leave the ends hanging over the sides; the ends stay cool for easy flipping and lifting off the grate. Although somewhat odd looking, according to many reviews at Amazon, these cheap grilling utensils are effective. Reviewers note they fit almost any shape or size grill and are a snap to clean. Ten dollars gets you a set of two kebab skewers, which boast a 4.7 out of 5 rating at Amazon. Tip: Depending how you place the skewers on the grill, veggies and meat might not cook evenly; check carefully before consuming.
OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel BBQ Turner
OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel BBQ Turner is a hair short of being a 5-star winner at Amazon, where one user deems it "almost perfect." Reviews for the $11 grilling accessory rave about the sharp serrated edge, which makes it easy to flip or lift whatever is on the grill. The spatula comes with an extra-long handle that users say feels very sturdy in your hand. It's also dishwasher-safe and has a hole for hanging.
OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Barbecue Fork is another $11 product from OXO that finds favor with grill cooks. As one reviewer explains on Amazon, the prongs on this cheap grilling accessory are flat enough to roll hot dogs but can also be used to lift hardy meats. As with the BBQ Turner, the long handle keeps the heat at a distance and the utensil cleans up nicely in the sink or dishwasher.
Additional Hard Anodized GrillGrate Panel helps distribute heat evenly and prevents flare-ups. Reviews posted at Amazon say this cheap grilling accessory lives up to its marketing claims and award it 4.8 stars. According to the manufacturer, juices cook with the meat while fat drains off, leaving a moist finished product. One review notes food is properly seared and doesn't stick to the surface and others laud the easy cleanup -- just place the $23 accessory in the sink and let the water run over it.
Posted on 6/11/2013 13:58 EST
Staying connected while traveling without going broke is as easy as finding an Internet connection. Internet cafes abound and basic smartphones accept hundreds of free or cheap apps that ensure connectivity while exploring the world. Some apps are so popular they've become household names -- Skype, for example -- while lesser known options claim a following within the travelling community.
But first things first. Always, always remember to turn off cellular data once you've boarded the plane for departure. Although you may be able to make calls or access 3G or LTE networks overseas, the roaming data and call charges could leave you with a phone bill that doubles the cost of your trip. Breathe deeply, though: There are plenty of ways to stay connected cheaply while traveling.
Photo by gui jun peng/Shutterstock
Establishing connectivity. Open Wi-Fi connections are common in most cities around the globe. In case your hostel or hotel comes up short, head for the local McDonalds or KFC (these chains really are everywhere); chances are they have open Wi-Fi service.
What if your itinerary takes you to a small town or rural area? A personal hotspot that provides a portable Wi-Fi connection, known as a Mi-Fi, keeps you connected any and everywhere. Available from companies like XCom Global for $14.95 a day, a Mi-Fi is not exactly cheap but is surely less costly than staying connected with your U.S. carrier's international data plan while traveling. Be careful about the data you send over open Wi-Fi signals, though, because anyone can snoop. A virtual private network (VPN), such as the HotSpot Shield app, keeps your information secure even on open networks and is highly recommended.
Local offerings for similar services may be available at a discount. For example, an advertorial post on Trip Advisor shares information about a company that rents Mi-Fi hotspots for about $12 a day to travelers visiting major Japanese cities. The company maintains booths at the airport or delivers the device to your hotel.
Regardless which path you take, save Internet updates until you're hooked into a free Wi-Fi connection.
Making the Most of Internet Connectivity. Once you've established a link to the Internet, you have several options for staying connected while traveling. Email is ever popular, but a favorite app among travelers is WhatsApp (99 cents for iPhone users; free download for other devices and an annual 99-cent subscription after the first year). Once installed, WhatsApp lets you send texts, pictures, videos, and voice messages at no cost. A Fulbright scholar who spent several years in Russia suggests a free alternative to WhatsApp called Viber. The one drawback to each of these apps is that the recipient must use the same platform.
Photo by Yuri Arcurs/Shutterstock
When it's time to actually call home, there's always Skype. Skype's rate of $2.99 a month for unlimited calls to U.S. and Canada cellphones or landlines is a real deal. All you need is an Internet connection to pull this off.
Staying connected in-country while traveling calls for a triband GSM phone. Swapping prepaid SIM cards into a phone is fairly common in much of the world. Rates are reasonable for local calls and in some places you'll only pay for outgoing calls and texts. You may already own a "world phone" such as the iPhone 5 or Galaxy S III, but you'll need to contact your carrier before heading overseas to unlock the phone so it can accept international SIM cards.
Other quick and easy tools for staying connected while traveling: Create a Dropbox account to store photo images. You can upload pictures directly from your phone into a gallery folder so that folks at home can view, but not edit or copy, them.
Skype maintains a fee-based Wi-Fi service that provides access to hotspots around the world.
Download any of the free "Wi-Fi finder" apps to point you towards the nearest hotspot.
The Google Translate app converts text or speech from one language to another, a handy device that lets you communicate (sort of) with locals. The Google Goggles app can be used to snap pictures of signs or menus and translate them into English.
Posted on 6/10/2013 13:31 EST
With beach season in full swing, there's no time like the present to pick up a pair or two of cheap water shoes or flip-flops. Proper foot attire at the shore protects feet against the blazing hot sand and debris embedded in the underwater floor.
Here are our picks for affordable beach footwear.
Photo by Narongsak Yaisumlee/Shutterstock
The ultimate in cheap summer flip-flops
is Old Navy's version of this all-time
classic. Prices start at a mere $3.94 a pair, and if you decide to purchase two or more, the price drops to $2.50 each. If your taste runs to a more stylish alternative, this retailer sells an abundance of options at reasonable prices. For an even cheaper buy, Kmart
sells classic and cheap flip-flops
for women at $1.99 a pair, available in six colors. Be sure to check out dollar store venues like the Dollar Tree, which offer these basics for a buck.
For a bit more flair, Target's in-house brand Mossimo flip-flops come in many stylish varieties for all members of the family and sell for less than $20 a pair. JC Penny carries lightweight Zori Print Flip Flops, available in fun and colorful prints, for only $3 a pair.
Cheap Sporty Water Shoes.
The best all-around
shoe for water activities protects both the top and bottom of the foot. The classic minimalist shoe is Vibram's Five Fingers, but with a starting price of $85 this shoe hardly counts as cheap.
Photo by pattarastock/Shutterstock
Fortunately there are a slew of cheap water shoes that serve the same purpose. OP Dominica, Wave Walker, Menhaten, and Footie varieties are available exclusively at Walmart and priced in the $10-and-under range for men, women, and kids. Consumer reviewers report this is an excellent lightweight, "water walker" shoe with a decent tread and ground feel. Kmart's in-store brand Athletech also features affordable water shoes for everyone in the family for less than $10.
Speedo water shoes are more sophisticated but still relatively cheap, with prices for men's and women's styles starting just below $20. Fans appreciate the durable rubber traction and overall comfort. An interesting fusion of water shoe/Croc is Target's Froggs, made of thermoplastic rubber and available in many colors for both sexes at $16.99 a pair.
Some outdoor enthusiasts prefer water sandals but these beach shoes are rarely available in the budget price range. We found one close substitute, an outdoor men's sandal from Kmart that goes for less than $10 and boasts some water-friendly attributes -- fine for boating, camping, and hanging around the shore but not designed for long periods of total immersion.
Posted on 6/7/2013 14:20 EST
Cruise into summer on a riding lawn mower. Surprise dad on Father's Day with a token gift or cement a friendship with refer-a-friend opportunities. Save money on used baby gear or use the cash-back from rewards credit cards towards something else on your wish list.
For homeowners with larger yards, a budget riding mower or lawn tractor will do just fine. See which models top our list and offer superior value-to-performance
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Father's Day is just one week away and there's no time to lose. Check out our suggestions for fun, inexpensive gifts.
programs can help you make a quick buck while helping out your pals. Learn about how these deals work and decide if you want to partake.
Baby gear is notoriously expensive but way less so if you're open to used stuff. Find out which items are suitable for reuse.
Rewards and cash-back
credit cards can be a boon to the disciplined and conservative shopper. Click through for the skinny on these credit card deals.
Posted on 6/6/2013 13:39 EST
In the right hands a frugal and disciplined shopper can use rewards credit cards to save on every purchase. Finding the best cash-back or rewards credit card for your shopping habits can be tricky, though. Each card comes with slightly different rules, unique rewards programs, and fees that can reach several hundred dollars a year. Luckily, consumers can turn to several resources to find the right card.
Sites like BankRate.com and NerdWallet.com offer filters that narrow the hundreds of credit card options to the few that best fit your situation. Your credit score is one factor that affects which cards or interest rates are available to you, a fact that CreditCards.com takes into account when helping you find the best cash-back or rewards credit card. By supplying your name, address, and Social Security number, the site returns a list of cards you qualify for. If you want the card with the most benefits and lowest fees, any of these sites can help.
Photo by stockyimages/Shutterstock
Regardless which card you choose, you should be earning something back on every purchase. The first decision to make regarding a new card is what type of rewards program you want. Rewards programs generally fall into three categories: cash back, miles for air travel, and points for hotels and consumer products. In each case you receive up to five percent of the amount spent using the card in the form of a reward. Cash back is clearly the most versatile option (you choose how to spend the money) but the miles and points programs often return greater value.
One of the better deals is Chase's Ultimate Rewards program, which covers consumers holding a variety of cards. Shoppers with the no-fee Chase Freedom card earn one percent cash back on every purchase, plus an additional four percent (up to $1,500 a quarter) on select categories, such as movie theaters and groceries, which rotate throughout the year. The percentage back is stored as points that can be redeemed for cash, gift cards, or consumer products. Chase Sapphire Preferred card holders (a rewards credit card with a $95 annual fee) earn points (two points for each dollar spent on dining and travel) that can be transferred to airline, hotel, or rental car programs in addition to a 20 discount (i.e., in required points) on travel booked through the Chase travel portal.
Similarly flexible programs are offered by American Express, Citibank, and Capital One. Barclays recently introduced several new cards and is slowly growing its credit card rewards program, which currently lets users apply earned points towards credit card payments.
Photo by Tatiana Popova/Shutterstock
Another type of rewards card is the store-specific credit card; think JC Penney, Macy's, Target and other brand-name credit cards. Some of these cards come with benefits at the associated stores, such as coupons, free shipping, or extended return periods. Several store cards also offer generous rewards programs. Frequent shoppers at Target get five percent off all Target purchases when using the company's REDcard, for example. Ace Hardware, Sony, and REI reward cardholders with one percent cash back on all purchases and a five percent cash reward for items purchased at the associated store.
For consumers who prefer a credit card with a low annual percentage rate (APR), rewards cards are not the best choice. Rewards credit cards often charge high interest rates, so it's costly to maintain a balance. If you happen to find yourself in debt to a credit card with a high APR, consider transferring the balance to a new card. Chase's Slate card has no annual fee, offers free balance transfers for the first 60 days the account is open, and a zero percent APR for 15 months. Heads up here: The interest rate can climb to 21.99 percent after that, so take advantage of the interest-free period and pay down your balance.
Savvy spenders use credit cards to earn thousands of dollars worth of rewards every year and know how to work around paying fees. But not everyone has the time or interest to track down all the information and execute the plays. If you're looking for a way to navigate the fine print, CompareWallet.com posts a credit card screener that lets you see the fees attached to which cards.
With any reward or cash-back credit card -- even the best -- avoid the temptation to spend what you don't have. Clearly there's a strong incentive to buy because you'll get as much as five percent back, but if you don't or can't pay the full bill on time you'll end up paying an extra 15 percent or more.