Cheapism Staff

  • Frugality

    Weekly Update: Junk Food Secrets, Business Flops, Back to School, & More

    Junk food calls to us, but there's actually some worth listening to. We'll tell you not just which junk food is the least bad, but which supposedly healthy foods are the biggest liars. (And offer nearly 30 cheap, easy, and delicious recipes for truly good summer eating.) Similarly, we'll remind you of which attempts at capturing the stomachs, hearts, and wallets of consumers failed the most spectacularly in the past decades, and where to go with your nest egg if those historical flops sour you on investing in standard stocks, bonds, and businesses. Meanwhile, the school year is getting too close to ignore, and Cheapism has 90 tips for discounts and savings whether the student is headed for kindergarten or college, as well as a look at gadgets from calculators to drones that might make a difference in a child's grades. New and Updated Blog Posts: 10 Creative Abandoned Mall Makeovers Many indoor shopping malls are getting a new lease on life as office space, community colleges, health care venues, and even churches. 10 Gadgets to Make Your Child a Star This School Year A laptop under $250 and a tablet for kids are among the cool tech gadgets that make this list of top 10 electronics for back-to-school. 16 Best Small Cruises From Around the World Hop an eight-cabin boat floating down African rivers or a 2,000-person ship to Cabo and stop fighting for a deckchair on these peaceful cruises. 16 Cheap Emergency Essentials You Don't Want To Be Without A storm can knock out electricity, running water, and other utilities, but it doesn't cost much to prepare for an emergency with these essential supplies. 15 Quick and Easy Summer Dinners Don't waste time in the kitchen this summer. Instead, try these delicious, simple recipes that use ingredients probably already on hand. 50 Tips for Back-to-School Savings Start the year off right with Cheapism's list of top tips for saving money during the back-to-school rush. 40 College Student Discounts for Back-to-School Save 15 percent or more on everything from clothing to movie tickets with student ID discounts from national retailers, restaurants, and more. Not into Stocks and Bonds? Here are 12 Alternative Investments to Consider Not interested in buying bonds or putting your cash into the stock market? The good news is that there are other savvy ways to invest your money, including artwork, wine, and small businesses. 12 Cheap and Delicious Slow Cooker Recipes for Summer Spending time over a hot stove isn't necessary with these 12 slow cooker recipes, which incorporate summer produce to create inexpensive and satisfying meals. 10 International Work Benefits Americans Wish They Had What U.S. employees think of as perks, including shorter workweeks, pension plans, sick leave, and long vacations, are standard in much of the world. The 20 Least Unhealthy Junk Foods Not all junk food is created equal. Pretzels, beef jerky, and even pork rinds can be somewhat healthier alternatives to potato chips and other snacks. 12 Products with Meaningless Nutritional Claims Though abundantly emblazoned on many foods, terms such as "organic," "natural," and "free range" don't necessarily spell "healthy." Find out why not. 25 Biggest Product Launch Disasters Through the Years Consumers who paid $700 for a Juicero may be surprised at a long history of crazy product releases, from the Edsel automobile to a Cocaine drink. 20 Romantic Destinations for Seniors Romantic getaways for seniors may be closer and more affordable than you think, especially for AARP members. Check out these destinations. 10 Essential Tips for Enjoying Summer Safely Whether under the sun or beneath the stars, enjoying summer begins with knowing how to play and work safely. Here's How to Visit Iceland Without Spending a Fortune Iceland may be exotic and remote, but that doesn't mean it is out of reach for thrifty travelers. These 19 tips can help put it on your travel log. Amazon vs. Walmart vs. Jet: Who Is the Cheapest We compared prices on 75 items, along with shipping and return policies, to find out if smart consumers should shop online at Amazon, Walmart, or

  • Money

    Shop At Our Retail Partners

  • Cleaning

    Generic or Brand Name: When to Spend More on Cleaning Products

    Should I buy generic window cleaner or splurge on that bottle of Windex? Clorox or store brand bleach?

  • Careers

    Discount Resources for Nurses and Doctors

    You know all that money you spent on nursing or medical school? You can make some of it back in the form of discounts for various products, services, and activities. We've put together a list of resources nurses and doctors can use to get discounts and save money. AMA : American Medical Association members can save at Wells Fargo, Hertz, and other companies. NursesUSA : Members of NursesUSA can get ski resort tickets for as little as $8, CityPASS discounts in various cities, $3 off the major movie cinemas like AMC, and up to 30-percent off tickets to 60 zoos and theme parks, such as Busch Gardens, Six Flags, and Sea World. Aetna and ACS : Aetna has partnered with the American Cancer Society to offer up to 40-percent off books on cancer treatment and prevention. Eligible groups include nurses, doctors, and dietitians. AMSA : American Medical Student Association members can get discounts at Bank of America, Choice hotels, and National and Alamo car rental companies in addition to other cheap items like mobile medical apps. ASDA : If you're in school for dentistry, becoming a member of the American Student Dental Association can save you money on T-Mobile, GEICO, Kaplan testing products, Bank of America, and more. Disney World discounts : Nurses can get discounts at the Swan and Dolphin Disney World resort hotel. Identification and a recent pay stub are needed at time of check-in. You can book by calling the resort directly at (888) 828-8850 and asking for rate code NURSE. : This site offers discounts of up to 30 percent off books for health care professionals. Nurses and doctors can save big here. : American Society of Periodontology members can get discounts on Hertz car rentals and FedEx shipping in addition to insurance program and bank savings, medical journal discounts, and more. BirchhillHappenings : This site claims to offer "like" wholesale prices on items such as essential oils and aromatherapy products to massage therapists, spa owners, and various types of doctors. You must order online at the Minnesota-based site to cash in on the savings. HerbalaProducts : Nurses and doctors can save up to 35- percent off. Health care professionals and pharmacies also can get in on the savings. Jigsaw Health : Jigsaw Health offers wholesale pricing for health professionals. Nature's Gift : Nature's Gift supplies 10-percent discounts to licensed health care professionals. Theratape : Theratape, a major player in the field of taping products for rehabilitation and exercise improvement, gives discounts on products to licensed professionals in the health care field. Car rental discounts : This web site offers info on available discounts from the major car rental companies for medical professionals belonging to a wide variety of associations. Groups include the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, which can get discounts at Alamo, and the Academy of General Dentistry, eligible for savings at Avis and Budget. Members of other professional organizations that include nurses and doctors can save as well.

  • Apps & Software

    10 Best Shopping Apps

    In this week's app roundup, we bring you some shopping apps that can help you find the best products for the lowest price as you wrap up (or embark on) your holiday shopping.

  • Beverages

    Where to Find an Ice Chest for Less Cold, Hard Cash

    Believe it or not, it's possible to spend almost $800 on a cooler (a cooler!). But if you have no need for two-inch polyurethane foam insulation, a freezer-style sealing gasket, or dry-ice compatibility -- not to mention testing by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee -- here are some cheap coolers for spring, summer, and even tailgating in the fall. While it can be tough to find a sizable, hard-sided cooler on a tight budget, Target offers the 52-quart Igloo Family Cooler for only $20. It may not be bear-proof, but it does feature a fish-measuring ruler on the lid. It's lined with Igloo's Ultratherm foam insulation and holds up to 83 cans. You can also use it as extra seating at a tailgate or backyard barbecue. sells the slightly smaller 48-quart Coleman Chest Cooler, which features environmentally friendly Thermozone insulation, for $24. Consumers posting coolers reviews at appreciate the large capacity: The cooler is designed to hold 63 cans and store two-liter bottles upright. In coolers reviews, consumers say this Coleman is durable and the rust- and leak-proof drain is easy to use. Also available at is the California Innovations 40-Can Rolling Cooler with Easy Access Lid, which normally retails for $60 but will set you back only $21 through June 30. The Igloo 22 Can Playmate Gripper Cooler is another solid soft-sided option for $16 at Lowe's. If size doesn't matter and you just want to keep the cost as low as possible, take a look at Walmart's selection of cheap coolers. You're likely to spend more on an ice pack or a six-pack than on the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Awareness 6-Can Cooler. It costs just $6, so you save money and support Susan G. Komen for the Cure at the same time. For a little more room, check out the Ozark Trail 12 Can Cooler with Hardliner, starting at $10. It features a three-inch expandable top, an antimicrobial and PVC-free liner, and an internal food separator. It comes in different colors and sizes as well: a 24-can model for $14 and a 36-can model for $18. Consumers posting coolers reviews at Walmart call all three of these cheap coolers sturdy and convenient. Walmart also offers cheap coolers specifically designed for tailgating and beach bumming. At just $8, the Goodhope Bags Beach Cooler is an ultracheap and cleverly designed beach bag with a 12-can cooler at the base. For tailgating, 12-pack coolers with team logos cost $20. You can find cheap coolers on eBay as well, of course, but keep an eye on shipping, which can cost far more than the cooler itself. And we would be remiss if we didn't suggest the truly cheap, disposable foam coolers available at any gas station. But if you want a cheap cooler you can use more than a few times -- and you care at all about the environment -- you're better off with one of the more substantial and sustainable options above.

  • Home & Garden

    Spruce Up Your Patio for Under $300

    In the era of HGTV, people are creating entire kitchens and living rooms in their backyards. But even if you don’t have the budget for a hot tub or a massive outdoor fireplace, you can make your outdoor space inviting with a cheap outdoor furniture set. Home Depot has two sets of cheap patio furniture available online for $299. (It also offers free shipping on patio furniture $249 or more.) The Martha Stewart Living Pacifica Collection Four-Piece Chat Set comes with a loveseat and two chairs with mildew- and fade-resistant cushions, as well as a glass-top coffee table. The Fontaine Five-Piece Seating Set includes two scratch-resistant tempered-glass tables. Home Depot also offers 35 cheap patio dining sets under $300. One super-cheap option is the Rachel 3-Piece Cafe Set ($69), which no customer gives fewer than four stars. Users say in patio furniture reviews that the table and two chairs are sturdy and easy to put together, and many appreciate that the set comes with a bottle of touch-up paint. The Plantation Patterns Napa 3-Piece Bistro Set ($179) also gets high marks from customers for its sturdiness, easy assembly, and comfort. Most cheap patio dining sets at Home Depot are bistro sets, which comprise a small table and two chairs. At Ikea $149 will buy you a full "outdoor suite." The Tullero set functions as either a table for four or a three-piece dining set and a love seat; just add cushions. Ikea notes that the solid acacia wood pieces have been treated with glazing paint but recommends repainting them regularly. Unfortunately Ikea’s outdoor collections are not available online, so if you don’t live near one of those blue and yellow shrines to Scandinavian design, you’ll have to look elsewhere for cheap outdoor furniture. However, if you do have a store nearby, you can check the Ikea website to see if a piece is in stock. Walmart has the widest selection of cheap outdoor furniture, with more than 50 patio sets under $300. About half get an average of four stars or more in customer reviews. Consumers seem to like the Mainstays line of cheap outdoor furniture, which includes a six-piece folding sling set for $119. That’s a table, four chairs, and an umbrella for less than you’d pay elsewhere for an umbrella alone. We didn’t find much discount patio furniture under $300 at Costco or Sam’s Club online, but your local warehouse club is worth a look if you’re a member. We’re also getting into garage sale season, which often yields the biggest bargains. And of course there’s the furniture section on Craigslist , which is best enjoyed with a few cans of spray paint and a little imagination. Speaking of spray paint, if you have a set of patio furniture that’s just looking a little weathered, here are a few tips for reviving the pieces you already own. If you can wait until summer’s over to upgrade, you should be able to score some great discount patio furniture at the end of the season. In the meantime, get going on your backyard makeover with our guides to cheap grills and cheap lawn mowers .

  • Health & Wellness

    Stocking up on Cold Medicine without Going Broke

    We've pulled together a cheat-sheet on how to best treat cold and flu symptoms without stressing your cash flow.

  • Holidays

    Make Your Home Festive on a Budget

    If you're in the market for a few new ornaments or even a new artificial Christmas tree, here are some tips to help make your home festive on the cheap.

  • Frugality

    Newsletter Upgrade

    We are upgrading our newsletter! Within the next few days, you will receive an email from us asking you to confirm your subscription. Please confirm in order to keep getting news and updates from Thanks!

  • Holidays

    Sites That Help Stretch Your Holiday Budget

    What if you could give a loved one an Apple iPad 2 this holiday and pay only the price of a case? A growing number of group gifting sites are making it easier to partner with friends and relatives to purchase big-ticket items.

  • Fashion

    Shopping online for non-standard sizes without breaking the bank

    Clothes and shoes in larger sizes often carry larger price tags, especially in bricks-and-mortar stores. Online, however, you'll find a wealth of retailers that offer cheap plus-size clothing.

  • Lawn & Garden

    Cheap Gardening Tips for Starting Your Vegetable Garden

    Keep your backyard and your wallet full of greenery with these cheap gardening tips.

  • Frugality

    How to Find Garage Sales

    Spring cleaning is underway, which means people are getting rid of their old wares by throwing them out, donating them, or hosting garage sales. If you're in the market for home goods, gently-used clothes, yard furniture, and assorted other items, then you'll need a yard sale app or website to point you in the right direction. Usually, garage sales are advertised in the days before they occur via flyers posted around the neighborhood or ads in the local newspaper. More and more, however, people are posting their events on Craigslist in the For Sale section under "garage sale." In addition, Craigslist now has a free iPhone app to help you find goods and events on the go. Sites for finding cheap yard sales have sprung up over the last few years. There's OA Online, which lets you plunk in a date and a ZIP code to find an event near you. Garage Sale Tracker not only lets you find garage sales, it also sets up a route for you to follow to take advantage of several events in one day or weekend. This site also has a garage sale app for iPhone. Garage Sale Cow shows a monthly calendar of garage sales in your area, including the number on each day, and lets you search within 5 to 50 miles of a certain ZIP code. There are several other sites that offer similar functions for finding cheap yard sales in your area. and Yard Sale Search, a very Craigslist-looking site, simply list events. Yard Sale Treasure Map lists sales by date, by city, and by distance on a map; also features a map in addition to a garage sale app., the hyper-local neighborhood sites built by AOL, now post community events like garage sales. Check the site nearest to your town to see if cheap yard sales are coming your way. And now for still more yard sales apps... Garage Sale Rover gleans listings from Craigslist and other sites and gets you to them with GPS voice. There's a cost of $3.99. IGarageSale is a $1.99 yard sale app (free for the "lite" version) that's unique because it lets you search for a specific item and tells you at which sale you can find it. Yard Sale Mapper mines from Craigslist and Yard Sale Treasure Map to find local sales. Garage Sales App is another option. Now that you're on your way to your yard sales adventure, remember to always set out with a plan. As with couponing, daily deals, and bulk buying, you don't want to end up spending or buying more than you intended. You might even want to make a list of what you're looking for so you don't get swayed by glittery junk or products that serve no purpose. Also don't forget to use your bargaining powers to snag an even better deal on a steal. Last, but not least, make sure you really want the item, because there's no returning it after purchase. What are your tips for finding cheap yard sales?

  • Frugality

    What to Buy -- and What Not to Buy -- at a Garage Sale

    While some garage sale finds are perfectly fine to pick up secondhand, some things are better bought new, regardless of cost. Let's take a look.

  • Apps & Software

    Best NYC Apps for a Cheap Vacation

    For travelers seeking a bargain, New York City is probably not at the top of their list: The Big Apple is notoriously and often prohibitively expensive to visit.

  • Entertaining

    How to Have a Summer Party for Less

    With the summer in full swing and the national grilling holiday behind us, the internet is buzzing with cheap grilling recipes, BBQ meals, and cheap party suggestions. The various recipe sites suggest endless ways to help you prepare cheap summer meals, and if you still need to get a grill for your backyard, don't forget to consult our guide to cheap grills . The AllRecipes web site provides a few options for sorting through cheap summer meals for a party or BBQ. You could just click on the BBQ/Grilling category or plug "budget" or "budget and grill" into the search tab to get a range of ideas for cheap grilling recipes. Some include rotisserie chicken on a gas grill and marinated spicy pork chops. Vegetarians can benefit from cheap grilling recipes with options such as black bean veggie burgers. This site provides several pre-made menu ideas, including a Low-Budget Menu category, but you have to be a paid member of the site to access them. is another great resource for finding cheap party food ideas and cheap grilling recipes. You can scope out the site's Budget Recipes section, which has Grilling and Party sub-categories to get fodder for cheap summer meals. The Barbecues and Grilling Guide also has meal ideas for the grill. "Good Housekeeping's" web site has cheap party and BBQ meals as well, as do and the Food Network . Ground beef and sausages and hotdogs are some of the least expensive types of meat you can use for your cheap summer dinners or cheap party and BBQ meals. Bulk chicken wings and drumsticks can also drive down cost -- pick them up at Costco, BJs, or another bulk distributor in your area. Chickpeas and other legumes can be made into vegetarian burgers. In terms of produce needed in preparing cheap summer meals, stock up on low-cost bulk fruits and veggies from a local farmer's market and use them to make salads, kabobs, and sides for hamburgers and other BBQ favs. Getting a big bag of cheap potatoes can be useful for making your own potato salad, as buying the pre-made stuff for a large number of people can really bust your cheap summer recipes budget. Use Local Harvest 's farmer's market finder to locate one near your town. Also, don't forget to incorporate cheap pantry items into your cheap party and BBQ meals. You can use foods like chickpeas, lentils, pasta and rice, and canned tuna to make cheap pasta and rice salads and couscous. Using thawed frozen veggies works in a pasta salad if produce in your area costs too much. Bean salads with some veggies and baked beans can be used as sides for cheap summer dinners. Make sure to check out some of our blog posts on other cheap meals for vegetarians and vegans. Know, too, that you can skimp on certain items to save money -- generic plastic-wrapped cheese is fine to melt on burgers and cheap buns work well for your standard hamburger or veggie burger or hotdog. Other ideas for cheap summer meals in the backyard include making your own BBQ sauce and salad dressing with items you might already have in the house. You can make a simple BBQ sauce for chicken, ribs, and other meats with a little sugar, ketchup, vinegar, and salt and pepper. Simple salad dressings can be made with mayonnaise, mustard, or oil and vinegar with a little seasoning thrown in. Again, a good resource for generating ideas is 's Barbecues and Grilling section, which has a long list of sites for standard BBQ sauce recipes plus certain Southern styles and versions using fruit or liquor. If you want to serve dessert along with your cheap party food, go cool and simple with fruit-juice flavored ice pops (you can throw in some vodka or rum you already have in the house if entertaining adults) or ice cream sandwich cookies made with cheap chocolate chip cookies and generic vanilla ice cream bought at the store. Cheap canned fruit cocktail works, or for a fresher, healthier version, use the produce or farmer's market trick and stock up on a few large hauls of fruit you can make into a bowl of fruit salad. Jell-O molds -- again, you can throw in some alcohol for adults -- with real fruit or coconut flakes or marshmallows make up simple, cheap party food ideas or cheap summer recipes. As you prepare to stock up on cheap party food, check out some of our blog posts for saving at the supermarket in addition to our reviews of coupon sites that might save you even more on your cheap party and BBQ meals.

  • Outdoor

    Cheap Camping Gear Buying Guide

    This weekend, families across America are packing up cars, RVs, and backpacks for a Fourth of July campout. Not spending the holiday with Mother Nature? There's still plenty of summer left and loads of cheap camping gear for outdoorsy types on a budget. Start with our buying guides on cheap tents and cheap sleeping bags . A camping pad for under that sleeping bag costs $12.38 at Walmart and will help keep you warm and comfortable (bonus: it can double as a yoga or exercise mat). If you're looking for even more comfort, we found the best prices on air mattresses at Amazon, where the Intex Prestige Downy full air bed kit with battery-powered pump goes for $23. Amazon is also the place to buy a camping stove; the Stansport single-burner propane stove costs $21.29. Even at a campground with electricity, a flashlight can help you find your way to the bathroom at night -- and make your face look frightful as you tell a good ghost story. The Dorcy carabineer floating, waterproof flashlight clips right to your pack and costs $7.84 at Amazon (it's slightly cheaper elsewhere online, but watch out for shipping costs). The hands-free Quarrow Vista3 headlamp ($12.97 at Bass Pro Shops) is also waterproof and has a glow-in-the-dark power switch. For in the tent, when you're just hanging out playing cards or rustling through your stuff for a change of clothes, we like the Coleman LED Camp Lantern for $13.88 at Walmart. Walmart offers lots of other cheap camping gear as well. The Ozark Trail Deluxe Arm Chair is the cheapest camping chair we found, at $9.88, and consumers say in reviews that it's a great value for the money. A few other things that could come in handy: a five-gallon Coleman Water Carrier that collapses to save space ($5.88); a Coleman Fixed-Blade Knife ($10.97); and a Coghlans Solar-Heated Camp Shower ($9.97), which is essentially a hanging bag of (hopefully warm) water with a hose at the bottom. One last nifty item available at Walmart: the Stansport Collapsible Carry-All / Trash Can ($16). Use this multipurpose product for carrying all your cheap camping gear or for hauling away your trash, and, in the meantime, keeping animals and flies out of it. Users say it also makes a great laundry hamper. No collection of cheap camping gear would be complete without a first-aid kit. Outdoor store REI has one on sale for $7.93. To potentially save even more, use this as a guide for assembling your own first-aid kit from items you already have around the house. Throw in some insect repellent, cheap sunscreen , and a cheap cooler full of goodies and you'll be ready to gather 'round the campfire.

  • Personal Finance

    Free Personal Finance Tools

    We've just launched a partnership with, a free service that connects consumers with financial advisors and provides user friendly tools to manage personal financial assets online.

  • Music

    Groupon and Live Nation Sell Cheap Tickets

    Groupon is just everywhere these days. Now the deals site has teamed up with Live Nation, which oversees Ticketmaster, to target another area: cheap concert tickets. The system will work much like Groupon, offering local discounts to music concerts, theater shows and more for users. But will this service be any different -- or better -- than some of the other sites offering discount concert seats? StubHub has long been the go-to site for cheap or last-minute events tickets, but consumers seem to be souring on the company. The site pools tickets together from various sellers and posts them, often for a price higher than face value because they're for sold-out or short-notice events. The site gets a mix of reviews from users, and the negative ones mostly have to do with inflated prices. Some like the ease of use, but a San Francisco Yelp user said she paid double the face value for four tickets. Others report on ePinions and Review Centre problems with ticket sellers either not realizing their tickets had been purchased or never releasing them to be printed. There are several sites that basically do the same things as StubHub. What you'll get with these sites is pretty much the same batch of tickets looking to be resold. RazorGator is one of these third-party brokers that seems to have a few more theater offerings than other similar sites. Top 10 Reviews likes that the site has a good range of tickets, but says the prices aren't always the best. Star Reviews says the Fan2Fan Exchange makes it easy to buy and sell tickets. While legitimate, both StubHub and RazorGator seem to jack up prices too high for us to recommend using them. A TripAdvisor user said is a reputable ticket broker, but like StubHub and the other major sites, it often sells otherwise sold-out tickets at higher prices. A user said he got tickets three times the price of face value. Top 10 Reviews says it generally has higher prices than other brokers and isn't so easy to use. TickCo is deemed a mediocre discount concert seats site with not-so-great prices, an inability to sell tickets and no option to print tickets. Pass on both of these. According to reviews, Tickets Now is definitely a cheap concert tickets site to stay away from. Users on Epinions report tickets never arriving, being sold to other people after they paid and being substituted. Pissed Consumer users claim they got tickets for events that they didn't order. GoTickets is another cheap tickets site backed by few. Reviews are scare, with one TripAdvisor user saying she hadn't received her sports tickets in the mail by the right date and a Pissed Consumer user saying he got charged three times the face value. Don't go there. Ticket Liquidator is another broker for discount concert seats, and Epinions users give it an overall four-star review, saying it processes tickets quickly, is legit and has a good range of tickets and prices. Some Topix users got a little squirrelly waiting for their tickets, but they eventually came in time for the event. SiteJabber users give another discount concert seats site, TicketNetwork , three stars for getting great seats and great prices in a timely manner and being connected to helpful, prompt staff. Both Ticket Liquidator and TicketNetwork seem safe to try for your discount concert seats, plus they appear to have cheaper prices. While rare, other sites actually have the tickets for discount concert seats in hand, such as Ticket City . This means many buyers can get tickets for as much as 30-percent off face value. A Yelp user says ticket prices for big events are especially cheap. Austin CitySearch users liked the site for both buying tickets, especially hard-to-find ones, and selling them easily. One user said she's even been upgraded to better seats for free through the service. One con to this site is that it doesn't always have seating charts. Still, this appears to be the best discount concert seats site to shoot for. Removing the third party helps cut down on worrying about getting tickets on time, and since you're getting them off the site, you have fewer service charges and fees tacked on. All these elements help ensure that going to a live event doesn't become a headache. Stay tuned for Part II of our cheap ticket site roundup tomorrow.

  • Computers

    How to Buy a Computer on a Budget

    Everyone needs a home computer these days. And yet, it's impossible to ignore the huge costs of a new computer, especially a laptop. If you're willing to do some homework (you can start with this post), determine what you need in your next computer, and maybe even get your hands dirty, you can have a machine that won't crash your budget.

  • Baby

    Tips From Moms on How to Create a Baby Nursery For Less

    It's tempting to go to the hilt when decorating and furnishing your baby's room, especially if it's your first-born. Major retailers peddle pretty -- and pricey -- cribs, dressers, wall hangings, and decorations that are hard to resist. But if you'd like to sock away some of that money for a college fund instead of top-of-the-line items, you can create a cheap baby nursery with tips from moms who have done it. Cheap Nursery Furniture. Mom and Cheapism writer Raechel Conover was able to save on the bigger pieces of furniture. She got a really cheap crib off of Amazon and a deeply discounted changing table from Ikea because it was the floor model and the last available. A rocking chair and a bookshelf came as hand-me-downs from friends. Mom and baby products designer Jennifer Porter of Satsuma Designs says a good way to make a cheap baby nursery that is also environmentally friendly is by taking on DIY projects with items you already have. Odds and ends brightened with no-VOC, semigloss paint can become accessories and decorations for the nursery. She also recommends getting furniture that does double-duty. An old dresser can work as a changing station and a coat stand can hold some baby clothes and accessories such as hats and blankets. A Yahoo story dovetails with Porter's advice, recommending repainting old cribs, change stations, and rocking chairs with water-based paint. Nursery Carpets, Window Treatments, and Bedding. For a rug, Raechel and her spouse had a local flooring company cut down and bind a large scrap of carpet. The result was much cheaper than an area rug from a retailer. Raechel found that buying bedding sets was more expensive than buying separately. She also received some bedding as shower gifts. You can get creative in a cheap baby nursery with recovered throw pillows and window treatments, Porter suggests. You can update old sheets by sewing -- or finding someone you know who can sew -- ribbons around the perimeter. You can also use ribbon or wallpaper scraps to update lampshades for the baby's room. Cheap Nursery Decorations. For Raechel, decorations mostly came as gifts from her shower registry as well, but she did get wall decals for the sports-themed nursery from Amazon, which had cheaper options and a wider variety. "One idea I heard, though, is to save baby shower cards and frame them in frames from the dollar store or the thrift store -- anywhere you can find cheap frames -- for wall decorations," she says. "I might consider this if I have another child." Another idea is to frame scraps of a quilt or blanket. Other Tips. Other ideas for a cheap baby nursery include sewing together discount wicker baskets to make a toy chest. You can also hang paper lanterns from the ceiling for an alternative light source and something fun for the baby to look at or hang a baby blanket on the wall instead of using it in the crib. recommends looking at garage sales (check out our blog post on finding yard sales in your area), thrift shops, and flea markets for baby furniture, or thinking outside the box and purchasing used or cheap adult furniture that can be painted or redecorated for the nursery. You can also use scraps of wood that have been sanded and painted for shelving. Stencil the walls instead of buying wallpaper. You'll only use many baby items for a little while, so try to get incredibly cheap and gently used items from other moms you know or through groups or swap meets. What shouldn't you waste money on in your cheap baby nursery? Raechel says you don't need noise- or light-blocking curtains, as normal shades should work just fine. She also says to focus on function over cuteness. One way she accomplished this was by hanging shelves and storing stuffed animals on them. They serve as decorative items now, but they'll become toys as her son gets older. More baby resources to try: : Features deals and coupons on items for the nursery, diapers, and more. The community section also offers ideas for a cheap nursery. : A affiliate, it provides additional shopping deals. : Has info on cheap baby cribs. Stay a Stay at Home Mom : This mouthful of a website gives a lot of advice on making or buying cheap items for your baby. One article deals with making your own diaper bag. PlanetGreen : This site has DIY ideas for the nursery. HGTV : The popular home improvement channel also has some ideas for a DIY and cheap baby nursery. Make Your Own Baby Stuff : As the same suggests, this site offers ideas for saving by making nursery and other baby items on your own. DIYNetwork : More DIY ideas for the nursery. MomAdvice : Articles on saving on the nursery and everything else for your baby. Check out our guides for baby items: Baby Carriers Baby Monitors Baby Swings Booster Seats Breast Pumps Diapers Educational Toys Games and Puzzles What are your tips for creating a cheap baby nursery?

  • Fashion

    Swimwear 2012: Hot Bikinis on a Budget

    If longer days and diet program ads are any clue, swimsuit season is quickly approaching. Toss out your old sun-beaten, pool-weathered bathing suit and prepare for a new season of pool parties and beach vacations with a new bikini.

  • Makeup

    How to Look Beautiful for Less with Cheap Cosmetics

    Trying to put your best face forward without breaking the bank? According to experts, many cheap makeup products can work just as well as, if not better than, their more expensive department store counterparts.

  • Lawn & Garden

    Apartment Agriculture: Tips for the Frugal Urban Gardener

    City living has its perks, but a backyard garden is usually not one of them. Urbanites can still reap the benefits of cheap gardening and growing their own food by knowing the best plants for apartments and small spaces.

  • Home & Garden

    Save Money with Energy Efficient Products

    With global warming a growing threat, there's lots of talk about energy-efficient products -- a boon for the environment and your wallet. Yes, there's an initial upfront cost with these products that often pushes them beyond the cheap zone, but in the long run energy-efficient products will help you save money. You don't need to go crazy with a complicated solar thermal system for water, space heating, and cooling or with grid-tied solar electric to have an energy efficient home. There are plenty of ways to keep it simple and still enjoy the rewards. Here's how to lighten your carbon footprint and your utility bills. Energy Star Rating "Energy Star" and "energy efficient" are the new product buzz words. What do they each signify? Products with an Energy Star label meet certain criteria about energy use established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to , a product earns the Energy Star label if the entire category contributes to the efficient use of energy on a national basis; the particular product meets consumer expectations for features and performance while boosting energy efficiency; and the amount of energy the product uses can be measured and verified. In addition, if the energy-efficient product costs more than a similar but less-efficient model, consumers must be able to recoup the extra outlay in the form of lower utility bills within a reasonable timeframe. Energy efficient, by contrast, is simply a way of stating that less energy is needed to get the job done. Energy Efficient Products for the Home. To reap energy savings in your home, you need to invest in energy-efficient appliances both large and small. Examples include washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, dehumidifiers, air conditioners, and furnaces. You can also buy energy-efficient light fixtures and light bulbs (new standards for energy-efficient bulbs went into effect on January 1), as well as energy-efficient space heaters and fans. Some consumer electronics, such as cordless phones, computers, and televisions, also come with an Energy Star label. Money Saved. Energy-efficient products really do save you money despite the higher initial investment. Let's say your furnace goes out this winter. You can get it fixed or replace it with a high-efficiency furnace . If you upgrade from a 60% efficiency-rated furnace to one with an 80% efficiency rating (85% or higher qualifies for an Energy Star label), you can expect to save up to 30% on your monthly fuel bill; that translates to $42 on a $140 tab. What if you need to replace a 10-year-old washing machine? says if you buy one with an Energy Star label, you'll use 37% less energy and 50% less water, which together will shave $135 off your utility bills each year. In addition to reducing your utility costs, you can score again come tax time. Energy-saving purchases may be eligible for an energy-efficient tax credit worth up to 30% of the money you spent. The product must meet specific guidelines and not all energy-efficient products qualify. Check out for details. There's no getting around the cost of transforming your home into an energy-efficient showcase, so make the switch a little at a time. Try to change out one big appliance on a schedule that suits your budget -- perhaps every six months to a year. For example, replace your old refrigerator for an Energy Star refrigerator this year and buy a new energy-saving dishwasher next year. Make small changes in between, such as switching to energy-efficient light bulbs before the phased-in standards require and warming the rooms you're using with energy-efficient cheap space heaters while dialing down the thermostat on the central heat. Once your big energy-sucking appliances are replaced with more efficient models, you'll notice big savings in the cost of utilities. Put that money toward the next item on your energy-efficiency list and you'll find that the makeover is that much more affordable.

  • Music

    Which ticket sites are best? (part 2)

    In our previous post we told you about Groupon teaming up with Live Nation to offer cheap event tickets deals. We also went through the various online ticket sites to see which ones do the best jobs of getting customers discount tickets on time with little hassle. Here's the follow-up with 12 more sites. Craigslist regularly posts event tickets for sale, especially around major sports competitions like the World Series. This site often seems to carry a shadiness factor to it, but the fact is, you cut out the middleman when using it to buy or sell tickets. In addition, you can determine when and where to collect them in hand. Numerous posters on the football fan web site ExtremeSkins and hockey said they used Craigslist to buy sports tickets without problems. Naturally, you need to be careful when setting up the transaction -- do it in a well-lit area, don't give the money before you have the tickets, etc. There are occasional scams that circulate, so make sure you can verify the seller's information before proceeding. Ask for their invoice of the ticket purchase to ensure legitimacy. OLX is akin to Craigslist in that it has a variety of categories and services, including an area for selling event tickets. This site is relatively new, however, so reviews are few. We'd recommend sticking to Craigslist until more is known about OLX. What other sites are out there? Apparently ones with very similar names: TicketsToGo, Ticket Loot, Ticket My, Ticket Luck and Tickets Inventory. Reviews for TicketstToGo are scarce, but one reviewer we found says he likes that you can see the seating chart for the tickets early in the process. He says the web site is quite outdated. Top 10 Reviews agrees about the shoddy web site design and adds that there are fewer tickets available than on other sites. The $18 shipping fees make this is a pricier site to get tickets mailed from, so this is one to pass. Ticketloot, a secondary market for tickets, actually has some really good reviews, with five-star ratings on several sites like Review Centre for the ease of use in finding tickets in a given area. However, they seem suspiciously like planted evaluations, possibly by the company's employees. Yahoo! Answers posters seem a little more legit, and several say the site offers really good event tickets on sale that you can't find at places like Ticketmaster. The scant reviews, however, make this site seem a little shady, so try another outlet first. TicketMy has no reviews and Ticket Luck attracted complaints about fake tickets or tickets sold at three times their face value by customers at ComplaintsBoard and SiteJabber , so pass on these. Several reviews said Ticket Inventory has some of the cheapest prices anywhere next to the actual face value of the ticket. Top 10 Reviews said that even after service fees and shipping, this site has the cheapest event tickets on sale. Trust Pilot posters agreed, saying they found sold-out tickets for big events for cheap with little hassle and timely ticket delivery. Review Centre comments speak of very helpful staff as well. This is one site we'll get behind -- try it the next time you need event tickets. CitySearch reviews of another ticket broker, Online Seats, were largely positive, with users reporting cheap ticket prices, though some didn't like that some tickets weren't available for email. However, we couldn't find other reviews, which means this site probably doesn't offer a lot of tickets. Pass. Eventful actually uses Gigaticket to purchase tickets, and this site seems to have some inflated prices. They're even higher than Stub Hub's -- comparing Bon Jovi tickets for a Des Moines, IA venue, Gigaticket's are as much as $15 higher. We'll skip this one, too. Viagogo is pretty much the same as other middleman ticket brokers. It services other countries besides the U.S. like the U.K. and Australia, and one reviewer says the ticket-buying process is fairly easy. Users on Review Centre had generally positive experiences, though some said tickets came just before the event, which worried them. The reason we don't recommend this site, however, is because event tickets on sale can be doubled when you add in shipping and handling -- one buyer spent $70 for a $35 ticket due to handling fees. By and large, reviews for New York's TKTS, which sells half-price Broadway tickets, often a half hour before the show, were very positive, with buyers on Trip Advisor , Yelp and Epinions rejoicing at the slashed prices. The only cons were that you have to pay cash and lines can be long at the Times Square booth. We recommend you try TKTS for really cheap tickets. Anyone who uses this service can't be picky about the seat, however, and if you want to see a really popular show, go at least an hour ahead of time to line up. Reviews of secondary seller site Vivid Seats point to it being the place to look for sold-out or hard-to-get event tickets. Top 10 Reviews said the 14-percent service charge is a little high, but the customer service, ease of use and legitimacy of third-party sellers makes it a good site to use. Customers on Review Centre agree, scoring the site with a 4.3 out of 5 rating. Users who had any problems with transactions said they were helped courteously and promptly by staff. This seems like a good site to try.

  • Groceries

    Stock Up on These Essential Pantry Staples for Cheap, Healthful Meals

    A smart grocery trip today can keep the pizza deliveryman away. A well-stocked refrigerator and pantry are essential for cooking quick, cheap meals.

  • Money

    How to Sell Your Stuff: 8 Tips From Craigslist

    This time of year, the number of "for sale" and "garage sale" postings on Craigslist doubles as people wrap up their spring cleaning, according to the classified-ad giant. Here are eight tips for getting the most out of an online posting or a yard sale.

  • Frugality

    What's cheap to buy now?

    A recent CNET story advises getting these mini video cameras ASAP, because the line will be discontinued in the near future. After some uncertainty, Cisco has reported it will support the Flip along with its services and software until December 2013. Prices have been slashed, with a 4GB Flip that can record for one hour now available at $109.99. PC Mag says the devices have good HD video quality and are easy to use. No frills here and the device has a small LCD and lacks macro mode and still image capture, but it's good for those who want something simple and functional. A UK TechRadar review agrees. Olympus Stylus Tough 6020 Waterproof Shockproof Camera. Spring is the time to buy your next digital camera, as prices soar in the summer months when vacations get under way. This offer from BuyDig is less than $165.19 -- slashed from its original $300 price -- which is well within the Cheapism range. It also comes with free shipping for a limited time. This isn't just any digital camera: you can drop it six feet without shattering it, it can handle temperatures below freezing and it's waterproof. It has 4GB of space and a Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Memory Card. Black & Decker MM875 Lawn Hog 19-Inch 12 amp Electric Mulching Mower with Rear Bag. Spring is also the time to scoop up budget lawnmowers for summer. This Black & Decker machine has been slashed by more than half for a sale price of $209.00 -- in the Cheapism range for budget lawnmowers -- at Amazon, which is also offering free shipping on the product. This corded electric lawn mower has a 12-amp motor that produces no emissions, plus handle adjustment and a cushioned grip. It's gotten good reviews from users, who say it's a powerful product that works well on both small and large yards. Have you seen any other cheap products priced to move off the shelves lately?

  • Accessories

    Connect Your Home Electronics With Cheap Cables

    It's always exciting to bring home a new TV, home theater receiver, printer, or other electronic gadget, but many of these products don't include the cables you need to connect them to other devices and begin using them right away.

  • Fashion

    How to Find a Summer Dress for Less

    We know it sounds like a cliche, but every woman craves a flowing, comfortable, pretty dress for summer. Luckily, there are many stores and sites that offer cheap summer dresses and tips for how to wear them best.

  • Credit Cards

    12 Ways Credit Cards Can Save You Money While Traveling

    If you have a credit card (or three), it's possible that you're missing credit card travel rewards and perks that could save you money.

  • Beverages

    The Difference Between Champagne and Sparkling Wine? Price.

    Champagne, bubbly, sparkling wine -- whatever you call it, it's popularly used for a toast at all kinds of celebrations, from weddings to anniversaries to promotions to graduations. Even Valentine's Day.

  • Destinations

    How to Attend the Summer Olympics on a Budget

    If you want to visit during the Olympics but fear a cheap trip to London isn't possible, consider the following tips to make your stay in the city a bit more affordable.

  • Holidays

    Holiday Shoppers Can Save 29% at Outlet Stores: Cheapism Study

    Frugal holiday shoppers can shrink their gift-giving budgets by a whopping 29% and save up to 85% on individual items by taking their business to outlet stores instead of the local retail mall, according to budget products review site Cheapism.

  • Travel

    Buy Lost Luggage for Cheap

    If you've ever gotten off a flight to wonder "Where is my luggage?" we may have found the answer. A place called Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama stocks up on suitcases never claimed or lost by the airline in addition to their contents, says a story in the Sydney Morning Herald . What's more, these items are marked down by 20 to 80 percent, meaning you can unearth some pretty serious steals. How does your lost bag wind up in a discount store? The story reports that about 68,000 bags are never returned to their owners. The airline usually spends about three months trying to find the owner, then gives up. The Unclaimed Baggage Center, which opened back in 1970, offers about 7,000 new items each day. Some of the airlines, like US Airways and JetBlue, make a profit off selling possessions to the store, while others, like Southwest and Virgin America, give lost items to charity. There are some simple tricks to make sure your don't have to ask "Where is my luggage?" Put your destination inside the bag, pack valuables in your carry-on and make sure your address tags are correct. You can also sign up at and get serial numbers for your luggage tags so you can track your bag online and get alerted when it is found. If your bag truly is lost, you can at least get reimbursed for the contents, but you may need receipts, and certain items, like jewelry, won't be covered. An airline baggage liability of $3,300 per person exists on flights within the U.S., reports Independent Traveler . Report the lost bag via a complaint with the airline or the Department of Transportation's Aviation Consumer Protection Division. Know that if you suspect your bag of being stolen, you need to call police. Some airports, like JFK and LAX , have web sites pertaining to lost luggage. Independent Traveler also has a list of both domestic and international airlines and their phone numbers. Here are the web sites and contact info for domestic carriers: American Airlines: Lost Luggage Web site /Hotline: 1-800-535-5225 Delta: Lost Luggage Website Frontier: Lost Luggage Website /Email: 1-877-461-5737 JetBlue: Lost Luggage Website /Hotline: 1-866-538-5438 Southwest: Hotline: 1-888-202-1024 Spirit: Lost Luggage Website /Hotline: 1-877-888-5926 Option 2 United: Lost Luggage Website /Email: 1-800-221-6903 US Airways: Lost Luggage Website / Contact form Virgin America: Lost Luggage Website /Hotline: 1-877-359-8474 If you did lose your bag and never got it back, check out our Cheap Luggage Guide to save on a new piece of luggage. Does this unclaimed baggage store incite or excite you?

  • Apps & Software

    10 Retail Store Apps to Help Save Time and Money

    Are you feeling rushed to finish up your holiday shopping? Overcrowded aisles and hard-to-find sales help no doubt add to the anxiety. This is a moment when store-specific shopping apps can come to your rescue.

  • Retail

    Should You Join Costco or Sam's Club?

    Could Switching Save You Money? We Pit Costco Against Sam's Club in a Wholesale Clubs Showdown A wholesale clubs comparison of Costco vs. Sam's Club we published this week helps consumers determine which store delivers the best value for their money. Whether they shop at Sam's or Costco , consumers can find an astonishing array of products and services and unbeatable deals. But look more closely at the two giants and differences emerge. Depending on individual needs and shopping habits, one store is likely a better value than the other. Our wholesale clubs comparison examines each store's strengths and weaknesses to help consumers figure out which one is right for them. Our shopping cart test compares the cost of supplying a family of four at both clubs. A haul of similar items that totaled more than $200 at each store cost about $12 less at Sam's Club. A six-pound package of chicken alone was $6 cheaper at Sam's. But Costco turned out to be 3.6% cheaper overall based on price per unit. For example, 40 packets of oatmeal at Sam's cost $1.51 less than a 52-count pack at Costco, but the price per packet was 8.9% lower at Costco. We also compared unit prices at Sam's Club and Costco to prices at the local supermarket and found that the wholesale clubs are more than 40% cheaper. Our price comparison table breaks down all the items on the shopping list. The comparison also includes services such as gas (2.3% cheaper at Sam's) and photo printing (26% cheaper at Costco). Sam's is the place to tune up your car, while Costco's travel department can book a cheap vacation (Sam's doesn't offer travel services and Costco doesn't offer in-store automotive services). We also analyze membership options at both clubs so consumers can compare the benefits, which include insurance and prescription discounts.

  • Beverages

    How to Curb Spending on Your Coffee Addiction

    It's no secret that Americans love their coffee. In fact, according to, the United States is the leading coffee-consuming country, with Americans gulping down 400 million cups a day.

  • Frugality

    Do Most Women Really Shop Sales?

    More than 75 percent of women claim to be sales shoppers, according to a Live Science shopping poll reported by Consumers Union’s ShopSmart magazine. Are there really more women bargain hunters than men? Yes, says research by Decitica Marketing Strategy & Research , which shows that men are more likely to be pragmatic or apathetic spenders while women are “involuntary penny-pinchers” or steadfast frugalistas. The ShopSmart study also indicated how fond women are of sites like Groupon, an assertion backed up by research from the Morpace Omnibus Report, which says 72 percent of women bargain hunters go for group-buying sites compared to 59 percent of men. Part of the difference in buying habits may lie in the things women and men buy. Men not only tend to buy more tangible things, but also shop for specifics -- cars, electronics, tools, etc., says . So if a bargain pops up, but it’s not related to what a man wants to purchase, it’s more likely he’ll pass it up. There’s also the element of how sales shopping creeps into social life and conversation for each gender. Women bargain hunters are more likely to brag about how they bought something on sale, while men more often tout the object itself. When’s the last time you heard a man reply to a compliment on his new car or flat screen with, “Thanks, I got it on sale”? Maura Haslam Do, a recently married Seattle resident, told Cheapism via email that she has upped her coupon clipping lately, but she finds that many major sales relate to food she doesn’t want. "I've always been more modest with purchases and wait until store sales," says Do. "For the most part, though, I find that they don't apply to us much, as we tend to not use processed foods. One major confession is discovering the posted coupons in the lactose-free/dairy area. Whoops, I took more than what I was buying that day! What can I say, it was 75-cents-off, they were good for nine months and we use three a week!" Currently living in a one-income household, Do doesn’t believe she’d be like 83 percent of the women bargain hunters in the ShopSmart survey, who said they'd still scour sales even if they had money to waste. Maybe she's one of the many shoppers who suffer from daily deals fatigue, which we discussed in a recent post. “While I love finding a good bargain," admits Do, "I do find that kind of shopping exhausting/stressful and not fun at all. So if I was in a better financial situation, I'd probably get a bit lax in my bargain shopping!” Brooke Kurilla, a recently married mom of one in New Jersey, told Cheapism via email that she is also among the women bargain hunters, although she says she doesn't often buy more than she needs and she never hoards. “I clip coupons, I shop Amazon, ebay, Shoprite and Costco," Kurilla explains. "If it means I'm loading up on a cereals or snacks for my family because they're 1/3 of the price, I'm loading up." Kurilla also shops sales on Black Friday and is on store email lists to get discounts for items she wants. “Truth is, the bargain hunting is to spoil my family regularly," confides Kurilla. "It's nice to get your own reward out of it, too.” Do and Kurilla also say they were frugal when it came to spending for their weddings, both of which took place in the last half of 2010. Do got her dress for a bargain, while Kurilla shopped at the slower time of year for vendors and purchased some items from value-priced products site Oriental Trading. So, women and men out there, who is the bargain shopper in your household? Do you think this survey is believable or bunk?

  • Kids

    8 Summer Camp Tips for Choosing the Best Place for Your Kids

    With fond memories of cabin mates, campfires, swimming pools, and s'mores, it's no wonder summer camp is a natural choice for parents looking to give their children the same enriching experience.

  • Air Travel

    Frugal Traveling: 10 Carry-On Tips

    What seems like a cheap air ticket can turn into a much more expensive one after you've checked your bags. Most airlines charge anywhere from $15 to $35 for the first bag and as much for the second bag -- each way.

  • DIY

    DIY Wars: Lowe's or Home Depot?

    Target vs. Walmart, Costco vs. Sam's Club: The top retailers all have their worthy competitors. In the home improvement arena, the two giants are Lowe's and Home Depot. If you're looking to complete a spring project on a budget, is it better to head to Home Depot or Lowe's?

  • Cleaning

    Moving On the Cheap - by Purchasing Moving Boxes?

    At first glance, the idea of purchasing something in order to save money seems a bit contradictory. But you may be surprised to learn that one of the best ways to save money when trying to move on the cheap involves buying moving boxes. Here are three reasons why paying for boxes can lower your moving expenses

  • Travel

    Cheap Summer Travel Tips

    Summer is ideal for getaways, both short and long. But the rising costs of airfare have made cheap summer travel a thing of the past. Still, there are plenty of ways to get your travel fix at a price you can afford. Here are a few tips on how to find cheap summer airfare.

  • Destinations

    Vacations on a Budget

    There are countless vacation options, including many on the cheap. Here are a few ways to both plan and enjoy a budget vacation without going broke.

  • Lifestyle

    Cheap Home Decor Advice

    Are you in the mood to revamp your living space? We found some cheap decorating ideas and resources for cheap home decor that skimp on money but not on aesthetics. A fresh coat of paint in a bold color, a vintage coffee table scored at the local thrift shop, a brightly patterned wall hanging, and mixing and matching what you've already got into new combinations are just a few quick, easy, and cheap ways to get started. So unleash your inner decorator and bask in the outcome. The first place you might look for cheap decorating ideas is, surprisingly, your smartphone. Blanco County Times reports on several home improvement apps, such as ColorSnap, a free mobile app for the iPhone that lets you match paint color and code. StudFinderPRO, which costs $2.99 for the iPhone but is free for Android, helps you locate a stud in the wall so you can hang that new painting. Mark On Call lends you its room design and decorating expertise for a mere $2.99. The Handy Man DIY ($1.99) makes recording dimensions for window treatments, walls, and the like so much easier. Craigslist and thrift stores are obvious places to search for recycled decorating treasures. But do be careful about what you bring into your home: clean and gently-used items with some life still left in them are the worthy finds. Readers posting responses to an article on about unearthing cheap home decor gems at places like Goodwill seem to prefer regular thrift shops. They say many items sold at Goodwill aren't really cheap, nor is there a wide assortment. These frugal shoppers prefer Craiglist or sites like Freecycle for finding hand-me-downs that turn cheap decorating ideas into finished projects. Some cheap decorating ideas call for brand new items. LovetoKnow Interior Design writer Kate Bailey suggests several places to find home decor pieces that fit your frugal budget. West Elm and, for example, offer rugs at low prices. Hanging fabric panels on the wall is a thrifty out-of-the-box design idea. You'll find inexpensive options at Contemporary Cloth and Novica . Big-box retailers, such as Target, Walmart, and K-mart are additional sources of cheap home decor. You can also update any room in your house without adding to your existing collection of furniture, knickknacks, rugs, pillows, and pictures. EcoSalon recommends recovering pillows with old or new fabric and reupholstering couches and chairs in the living room, family room, or bedroom, suggests; getting new slipcovers does the job, as well. Move throw pillows and blankets into a different room or mix up the vases, picture frames, and candles. Try turning the living room into the den and the den into the bedroom for a fresh look to old space. Spruce up curtains with simple accents like ribbon tie-backs or a swag made with fabric left over from last year's sewing project. DoItYourself suggests updating lampshades with beads or fringe, and painting a plain piece of wood that you can hang above your bed. Once we started looking, we found no shortage of cheap decorating tips. Designers interviewed by Country Living offer several. For starters, put short strings of Christmas lights in glass jars to make an eye-catching lighting piece, place colored glass jars and vases on a window sill to simulate stained glass, and lay a sheet of glass over a table and tuck photos or postcards underneath. Give your kitchen a country look or Old World feel with a low-cost rack for pots and pans that goes above the stove. New kitchen towels and throw rugs can liven things up, and if you have a lot of floor space in the kitchen, textile designer Sirpa Cowell suggests creating a long runner by sewing together cheap rag rugs. (A dry cleaner will do this if you don't sew.) And finally, a few random pieces of tile right above the sink add zip and novelty without straining your bank account.

  • Meal Ideas

    Save Money on Groceries: Make Thanksgiving Leftovers Last

    Here's some food for thought: According to Americans consumed 736 million pounds of turkey over the 2010 Thanksgiving holiday.

  • Mobile

    Money-Saving Tips for Using Your Smartphone Abroad

    Unplugging for a week or even a day is hardly an option, which is why international travelers often get hit with high roaming charges and international fees when using their smartphones abroad.

  • Weddings & Relationships

    Cheap Bachelor Party Ideas

    If you're planning multiple bachelor parties this summer, here are several ideas for a cheap bachelor party that will leave you with cherished memories but not a battered budget.

  • Holidays

    Tips for Saving on a Live Christmas Tree

    If you're one of the millions of Americans planning to celebrate the Christmas holiday with a real Christmas tree, you're no doubt trying to decide when and where to buy one without chipping away at your holiday budget.

  • Home & Garden

    How to get the most out of a cheap grill

    Just in time for spring (is it here yet?) we've updated our buying guide to cheap BBQ grills . With one of our picks you'll be well-equipped to BBQ on a budget. All you need is a good grill cover and the right BBQ accessories to help you get the most for your money. Cheap barbecue grills aren't much of a bargain if you have to replace them every season. Even if your grill isn't made from the highest quality stainless steel, you can help it last longer simply by covering it up to protect it from the elements. Weber offers a premium grill cover for its One-Touch Gold 22.5, one of our favorite charcoal barbecues, for $23, but you can save a few bucks by going to Home Depot, where the same cover is $19.99. To save even more, opt for the lighter-weight standard grill cover, which costs $8.99 on the site and $7.99 at Home Depot. If you go with the smaller Weber One-Touch Silver 18.5, the standard cover goes for $5.99 at Home Depot. In a user review, one customer says the material isn't very heavy-duty, so if you want to opt for the premium cover, it's $20.99 from Weber and $17.99 at Home Depot. Picking up a grill cover at your local Home Depot also saves you Weber's $7 shipping charge. But don't assume a big-box store or Internet retailer will always be cheaper than a manufacturer's website. Char-Griller's cover for the Grillin' Pro 4001, our pick for best gas grill, is $24.99 on the Char-Griller site but $32 on Amazon and $35 on Hayneedl. The cover is too thin and light for one reviewer posting on Amazon, but users' reviews on Hayneedle say it's durable and fits like a glove. Another big part of caring for your grill is keeping it clean with the right BBQ accessory. Most of the cheap grills we included on our list of picks have porcelain-coated grates, which should be scrubbed gently with a metal-bristle brush rather than cleaned with a metal scraper, which can chip the porcelain. We found a cheap grill brush at Home Depot for just $2. You might save money up front if you prefer a charcoal barbecue to a cheap gas grill. However, buying bag after bag of charcoal is harder on the wallet than refilling a propane tank every few months. So, what can you do to save on charcoal? Barbecue buffs sing the praises of lump charcoal, but there's no question that buying briquettes is the cheapest option. No matter what kind of charcoal you choose, barbecue bloggers have a tip for reducing your fuel consumption: Rather than waiting for lighter fluid (or the coating on self-starting charcoal) to burn off -- eating up precious charcoal -- use a chimney starter to get your grill going. The Weber Rapidfire starts at $14 on Amazon, where almost all the hundreds of user reviews give this BBQ accessory five stars. These key BBQ accessories will help you get more meals and more value out of both your grill and your charcoal. Just pick up some cheap grilling utensils and you're ready to toss on some steaks. We found what users describe as sturdy barbecue tool sets for $10 at Home Depot and $13 on Amazon .

  • Entertaining

    How to Host a Cheap Summer Olympics Viewing Party

    More than 1 billion are expected to watch this Friday, July 27, as top athletes from all over the world gather in London for the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.

  • Apps & Software

    Save Money on Eating Out With These 6 Smartphone Apps

    There are hundreds of dining apps that will help you find a place to eat, but which ones will save you money on the bill?

  • Kids

    6 Fun, Frugal Ways to Keep Kids Occupied

    If your children have exhausted their DVD and video game libraries, try these fun, cheap activities for kids.

  • Frugality

    Can You Tell Cheap from Costly?

    We told you recently how brand name and generic versions of both batteries and dish soap often perform the same. Now another product category has up and confused consumers -- wine. When it comes to cheap wine over pricey, many people can’t tell the difference, reports CNET . Only 39 percent of people could tell the difference between a $23 bottle of wine and a $5 one. English psychologist Richard Wiseman doesn't have much faith in people's wine-tasting abilities and thinks the results would be the same with any group of study participants. We've known for a few years that many people actually prefer cheap wine over pricey. A December 2008 news item in the UK Telegraph caused a stir when it reported that cheap, fruity wines made in America were outselling expensive French varieties in Britain. Part of the reason behind people's cheap wine-buying habits, according to a Freakonomics post, is that some of the expensive wines aren't that good -- they carry a higher price tag because of production or marketing costs. If you're in the market for cheap wine over pricey, by the way, check out our guides on cheap red wines and cheap champagne . A bit of research shows that people have a hard time differentiating between the budget and bank-breaking with products other than wine, though. A forum in the Lifestyle section of MSN asking if women can tell cheap makeup from the costly kind shows that only about half can. Another discussion on StraightDope showed that people also had trouble sniffing out high-priced fragrances. Some didn't think there was much of a difference. It's the same with food. The majority of people posting on Yahoo Answers said they couldn't tell the difference between store-brand and brand-name food. Others posting on the diet website 3FatChicks said they'll go store-brand only for certain items. It depends on your tastes and dietary or beauty needs, really. One person said she couldn't go generic for ketchup. Another said the thickness of her hair required her to buy more expensive shampoo. So, do you pick cheap wine over pricey? What other items fooled you with their discount price tag?

  • Holidays

    Presidents' Day May Beat Black Friday for Discounts

    Black Friday may be famous for day-after-Thanksgiving discounts on electronics and other holiday gift items, but when it comes to clothes shopping, Presidents' Day sales are almost unbeatable.

  • Holidays

    Cheap and Free New Year's Eve Celebration Tips

    Christmas hasn't even come and gone yet, but you may already be thinking ahead to New Year's Eve.

  • Retail

    Cheapest Holiday Shopping May Not Be Online: Cheapism Survey

    Comparison of Walmart Stores & Shows Few Differences in Product Pricing

  • Frugality

    Don't Pay Sales Tax This Weekend

    In our recent back-to-school supplies post, we noted that tax-free days may be the best time to stock up (if your state runs such a program) on things like notebooks and markers. The tax holiday takes place this weekend in several states and rolls out elsewhere as we get closer to the start of the school year.

  • Students

    Dorm Room Decor for Cheap

    Frugal college students, heads up. What with books and munchies and nights out, your budget only stretches so far.

  • Frugality

    7 Simple Ways to Save Money Now

    Whether you're saving up for a big purchase or just want to save, these seven easy tips and tricks can help curb your spending and supplement your savings account without so much as lifting a finger.

  • Viajes

    A la Carretera: Los Mejores Viajes por Carretera del 2016

    Este año, planea tomar la carretera y descubrir un lugar nuevo, como un parque nacional, un lugar histórico o un destino culinario.

  • Dinero

    Más Retorno Por Su Inversión: 11 Productos Que Mantienen Mejor Su Valor

    Comprar productos que mantienen su valor puede ser una manera inteligente de recuperar parte del dinero gastado en una amplia gama de bienes de consumo, desde automóviles hasta computadoras.

  • Estilo de Vida

    50 Ideas Únicas De Regalo De Día De Fiesta Para Él Por Debajo De $50

    Desde gadgets para la preparación de juegos, comida, y más, estos regalos están diseñados para impresionar a los hombres en su lista de regalos.

  • Estilo de Vida

    50 Ideas Únicas de Regalo de Navidad Para Todos Por Menos de $50

    Encuentre el regalo perfecto para todos sin quedar en la bancarrota. Desde teteras de Star Wars hasta binoculares para los observadores de aves, esta lista cubre por menos de $50.

  • Hogar y Jardín

    50 Formas de Ahorrar Energía (y Dinero) Este Invierno

    Estas 50 formas de ahorrar energía pueden ayudar a hacer que las facturas de servicios públicos sean menos abultadas durante el Mes de Concienciación de la Energía y durante todo el invierno.

  • Viajes

    50 Vacaciones Accesibles para Agregar a Tu Lista De Cosas Que Harías Antes de Morir

    Aunque muchas personas tienen lugares tentadores en sus listas de cosas que harían antes de morir, hay muchos lugares atractivos en EE.UU. y en el extranjero que no tienen por qué costarte tu pensión de retiro.

  • Viajes

    Lo Mejor de la Florida en un Asequible Presupuesto

    Florida es un destino popular para el clima soleado y la magia de Disney, pero tiene mucho más que ofrecer a los viajeros frugales que playas y parques temáticos.

  • Dinero

    11 Cosas que Quizás No Conocías Sobre Costco

    Los compradores y expertos en negocios están fascinados por Costco, ya que hace las cosas un poco diferentes a otros minoristas e incluso a sus competidores mayoristas.