Frugal Living 
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How to throw great, yet affordable, football parties


A new season is here that has nothing to do with pumpkin-spiced everything – it’s football season.

Every Saturday and Sunday (and Monday and Thursday nights, too) provide a great excuse to get together with friends and root for your team. Or some other team. Does it really matter?

Of course your entertainment and recreation funds aren’t unlimited.

So here’s how to stage epic football parties week in and week out, at home and in the stadium parking lot, without sacking your budget.
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 Education 
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Smart ways to save money at school without ruining your college fun — or going hungry


Don’t worry – this isn’t going to be one of those posts that tell you you’re a big boy/girl now, and have to stop being irresponsible with money.

I won’t tell you to stop buying overpriced lattes, $11 nachos at midnight, or comfy college sweatshirts because those things are largely what college is all about.

What I will tell you is that the post-college years can really stink when you’re broke. Actually, worse than broke — so far in debt that you feel like you’re working for nothing but your bills.

So here’s how to give your future finances a fighting chance, and get through college without making those clichéd money mistakes of running up credit card debt and blowing through all the summer job money you earned folding shirts at The Gap…
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 Observations 
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Oh, how I wish I could go back and talk some sense into my free-spending teenaged self


As a teenager, I looked forward to growing up and leaving home so I could eat all the junk food I wanted.

But now that I’ve done that, my perspective has changed. I avoid junk food at all costs.

I’ve matured a lot when it comes to money, too.

As a kid I dedicated every weekend to blowing through every dollar in my purse. Oh how I wish I could share everything I’ve learned – often the hard way — with my teenage self.

If I could go back in time, the first thing I would tell myself is to start saving earlier.

All those impressive waitressing tips are now long gone, but if I could communicate with then-Alissa, I would tell her to set them aside, to even consider investing some of that cash.
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 Cars 
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How to get the most from your auto insurance claim


Being involved in a car accident is scary and stressful. So is dealing with the aftermath.

It’s in the insurance company’s best interest to minimize your claim, but you’ll be able to secure a fair settlement with these four tips.

Don’t admit fault

You typically must file a police report after a car accident. There are situations when you aren’t required to, but to be on the safe side, file a report.

Describe to the police as accurately as possible what you believe happened, but don’t admit fault or say anything to the police, the other driver or any witnesses that might incriminate you.

Gather evidence that might help you later. Photograph the accident scene, capturing the location, license plates and damage. Collect contact information from any witnesses, passengers and other drivers.

At this stage, only discuss the accident with the police to minimize your chances of being misheard or misunderstood.
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 This is why you're broke 
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‘Free’ smart phone game is a shameless money suck


As always, there’s another scam to separate you from your hard earned money. Only this time, we can stop the madness.

The latest money grab comes from none other than Kim Kardashian, who has partnered with Glu Mobile on Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, a smartphone game where users advance by living the celebrity lifestyle.

In order to go from an E-List to an A-list celebrity, players do things like going to fashion shoots and hanging out with other celebrities.

Yes, it’s vapid, but a lot of online games are. It’s not like there’s any existential meaning to Angry Birds or Candy Crush.

The problem is that people are blowing millions – yes millions – on the game.

The game itself is free but Kardashian and Glu Mobile makes their real money from in-app purchases. Players can buy “koins” to move ahead in the game, and can spend anywhere from $4.99 to $99.99 in one shot.

Estimates put those in-app purchases at $700,000 a day.
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 Career 
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New law mandates in-state tuition for vets studying at all public colleges starting next year


Good news for U.S. vets: starting next year, you’ll qualify for in-state tuition at any public school, no matter where you live.

This perk was part of the $16.3 billion Veterans Administration reform bill that President Obama signed into law last Thursday.

Thirty states already offer in-state tuition to all veterans. But this will extend the discount to the remaining 20 states, including California.

At the University of California, for example, in-state tuition and fees are right at $13,200 a year. For non-California residents, it’s more than $36,000.

So the new law could save a Berkeley or UCLA-bound vet $22,800 a year – which is not small change.
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 The Home 
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Some surprising help turned my long search for new windows into a low-cost (or lower-cost) reality

I was clicking around the Groupon app one evening on my iPad when I ventured beyond the food and drink deals I normally scout to ones for home services.

I expected to find discounted housecleaning, not a significant savings on windows and installation.

But two months later, five new vinyl replacement windows graced our condo — purchased in part with a $1,999 Groupon.

My husband and I had been eyeing new windows for the rear of our home for some time.

When our century-old Chicago home was rehabbed in 1984, the majority of its windows were “updated” with aluminum windows.

Thirty years later, they were a struggle to open. If you did manage to push one up, it wouldn’t stay up.

The pane would come crashing down the second you let go of it. On every aluminum window, the balance — that handy mechanism inside a window that keeps it open — was kaput.
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 Cars 
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Stop worrying…You probably didn’t pay too much for your new car


Most of us like to tell “fish stories,” and they often include tales about the great deal we negotiated on our new car or truck.

But behind closed doors, many of us obsess that we really paid too much.

At least that’s the conclusion of the first annual TrueCar Buyer Study, which polled more than 3,000 consumers across the country.

Despite all of the pricing information at our fingertips on sites like Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com) and Edmunds.com, it seems many new-car shoppers have no real idea how much the dealer is making in any given deal.

Because of that, 26% of new-car buyers believe they overpaid for their car.

Many of those surveyed guesstimated the dealer makes about 20% profit on the sale of a $30,000 new car. That would be about $6,000.
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