Louis DeNicola

Louis DeNicola is a freelance personal finance writer who specializes in credit, debt, and practical money-saving tips. He loves stacking savings opportunities to get amazing deals, traveling for free using credit card rewards, and teaching others how to do the same. Connect with Louis by visiting louisdenicola.com.

  • Air Travel

    Best Cheap Airlines

    Legacy airlines such as United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and American Airlines are long-established and offer the benefits of scale -- more daily flights and destinations serviced, robust rewards programs and partnerships, airport lounges, etc. Budget airlines, also called low-cost carriers, or LCCs, cater to travelers willing to give up some of those added perks in order to take advantage of sometimes deeply discounted fares. But there's more to choosing a low-cost airline than the ticket price. To determine the best cheap airlines, we consulted assessments from the Department of Transportation, as well as industry experts, and hundreds of consumer reviews. This comparison of six carriers looks at costs, convenience, amenities, and overall flight experience.

  • Frugality

    Cheapest Shipping: FedEx, UPS, or the Post Office?

    The holidays bring the cost of shipping into sharp relief, as shoppers splurge on gifts for far-away family and friends and scramble to meet that Dec. 24 deadline. But consumers crave reliable, convenient, and cheap shipping options year-round. We've evaluated the three major carriers -- FedEx, United Parcel Service (UPS), and the U.S. Postal Service -- with the goal of identifying the best cheap shipping provider. We compared factors including cost, reliability, selection of services, and overall customer satisfaction.

  • Fitness

    Best Cheap Fitness Trackers

    Many consumers swear by fitness trackers for motivation to work out, as well as accurate and easily accessible overviews of their exercise habits and overall health. Sales more than doubled in 2015, according to the NPD Group, and the average selling price increased to $109. But some of the biggest names in the game, including Fitbit, Jawbone, and Misfit, offer fitness tracking devices (also commonly referred to as activity trackers or activity monitors) for less than half that price. To save some legwork for shoppers in search of good cheap fitness trackers, we've scoured expert reviews, consumer feedback, and product specifications to find the best offerings under $50.

  • Frugality

    Cell Phone Fees

    Mobile phone plans covering call minutes, text, and data are always in flux, but one annoying part of the bill is more or less constant -- cell phone fees. Consumers can be certain that no matter the sticker price for a phone plan with a service contract, the final tally will be higher once fees are added in. Some mobile phone charges are taxes, surcharges, and fees levied by the local, state, and national governments and thus unavoidable. The Verizon Wireless customer agreement warns that these alone can bump up your bill more than 40 percent depending on location. Others, such as activation fees and overage charges, vary by carrier and sometimes can be tamed by disciplined and determined users.

  • Frugality

    Store Return Policies

    Let's be honest: Some purchases and some gifts just cry out to be returned. Perhaps you discover a defect in the product or develop a case of buyer's remorse. Perhaps you receive a gift or give one that aims to please but doesn't. Most retailers maintain return policies to accommodate such situations and some are more understanding during the holiday season, when they institute special store return policies for items purchased in November and December. Every vendor adheres to its own set of rules, which makes the whole return thing quite complicated. Ever the frugal shopper's friend, Cheapism decided to pull together a consumer-friendly guide to the store return policies of 22 of the country's largest retailers.

  • Nutrition

    Best Cheap Diet Plans

    The weight-loss industry is big business in the U.S. Among the millions of people searching for a fast and easy way to drop extra pounds, many are also intent on finding a cheap diet plan. Fast and easy doesn't always mean success, and even the best cheap diet plan doesn't guarantee results. The key is committing to a program that's right for you -- one that helps you lose weight, maintain a target weight, and perhaps improve your overall fitness.

  • Air Travel

    Airline Fees

    Finding a cheap flight these days isn't as straightforward as finding the lowest fare; consumers must factor in airline fees, as well. In an industry pinched by low margins, airlines continually add and raise fees for what used to be considered the basics. Spirit Airlines charges fees of up to $100 for carry-on luggage and $2 to $3 for inflight refreshments such as coffee and soft drinks. United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, US Airways, and American Airlines raised their fees for canceling or changing a domestic flight to $200 in 2014. To help consumers keep up with the ever-changing costs, we've catalogued airline fees for 11 U.S. carriers. Compare baggage fees , change/cancellation fees , and other optional service charges in the charts on the following pages. Here's an overview of what we found.

  • Frugality

    Best Price-Matching Policies

    The idea behind price matching seems simple: You see that a store is advertising a sale on an item you want but you'd rather buy somewhere else -- maybe someplace closer to home, where you'll already be shopping anyway. Instead of driving the extra miles, you approach a nearby store with a price-match policy and offer to buy the item there if you can pay the lower price. Win-win, right? The retailer gets your business and you get the price you want. If only it were really that simple. Even the best price-match policies are rife with rules and exclusions. Each retailer's policy is different and ignoring the fine print can lead to frustration and wasted time.

  • Frugality

    Best Frequent Flyer Programs

    Whether you fly once a year or visit a new city every week, joining an airline's frequent flyer program is a smart idea. At a minimum you'll be rewarded for your travels with the prospect of a free flight in the future, and if you're a frequent traveler you can earn elite status, which entitles you to benefits ranging from free upgrades and snacks to priority boarding. We put 10 airlines' frequent flyer programs to the test to determine which ones deserve your loyalty.

  • Frugality

    Cheap Flower Delivery

    Whether it's for a birthday, promotion, or holiday, sending flowers shows someone you care. Online flower delivery sites make the process easy, letting you choose among hundreds of flower arrangements, vases, and accessories (chocolates and teddy bears, for example) from the comfort of home. We set out to determine which of the several well-known online providers offer the best cheap flowers for delivery by considering, in addition to price, customer service and the quality of the goods.

  • Taxes

    Best Free Online Tax Software

    Instead of paying a tax professional hundreds of dollars to prepare your income tax return, try the do-it-yourself approach with free tax software available online. There are often limitations associated with these free programs, such as income, age, and residency requirements, but most tax filers meet the criteria. We zeroed in on four recommended providers that can help eligible taxpayers prepare and e-file relatively straightforward federal returns for free and state returns for less than $20.

  • Electronics

    Best Cheap Streaming Media Players

    Cheap streaming media players let users enjoy online video and other content from providers such as Netflix on a TV screen instead of crowding around a computer monitor. Streaming devices have also nudged many consumers to unplug from costly cable or satellite TV service. But when comparing Google Chromecast vs. Roku players vs. Apple TV, as well as the newer Amazon Fire TV, which is best for the budget-conscious buyer?