Free 
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Download Abandonware: Free Old School Computer Games

They don’t make games like they used to huh? Well, back when I was a kid I remember going over a friend’s house to play Star Control 1. The game was really really simple, you controlled a ship and tried to blow up the other ship. There were scenario games too where you explored the galaxy (represented by white periods on the screen!) and battled based on a scenario. That game was Star Control 1 and I loved it. When I finally got a computer, I discovered that Star Control had a second and a third and I devoured those games too. Between Star Control and practically every Sierra game (from Kings Quest to Quest for Glory), I had a ball playing those old school games. Well, now you can download all those games because they’re considered Abandonware.

What’s Abandonware? According to Wikipedia, “Abandonware is computer software which is no longer being sold or supported by its copyright holder. Sometimes, it is used as a blanket category for any software over a certain age, usually five years.” Abandonware is the keyword you need to search with if you want to find copies of all those old school games that aren’t sold in stores anymore. Is abandonware legal? Technically probably not, but since you can’t buy it you have no choice but to download it.

If you want a good Abandonware site (you won’t have to register, donate, be asked to wait because you didn’t donate, or any other of the red tape-esq hoopla other download sites make you sit through), visit Abandonia or XTC Abandonware. I downloaded all the Star Controls, Masters of Orion, Quest for Glory 1,2, 3, a whole slew of other Sierra games and a whole bunch of other old favorites. Enjoy your weekend!


 Personal Finance 
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Two Giveaways, Two Gift Ideas, and some other Weekly Goodness!

Most frequent commenter at Consumerism Commentary in October wins a great prize!

FMF gives us the ten most common car-buying mistakes. Plus, check out FMF’s 24 Hours of Free Money Finance where he’ll give away a prize every hour plus donate $1 per visitor on October 2nd.

JLP gives us a Roth conversion strategy for high earners.

MBH talks about how Wal-Mart might start installing IR customer tracking cameras and other Big Brother-esq type monitoring systems.

First, Dad talked about the stupid TMX Elmo, now read about where to buy the Nintendo Wii. Seriously, stop spoiling your four sons. Or adopt me.

And Punny wrote an article so nice I linked to it twice (here and in the post about ED’s rate drop): how to open up an E-Loan online savings account.

Lastly, if you missed the announcement I made a little while back about the Festival of Frugality moving to its new home, consider this a second mini-announcement. If you’re interested in hosting, please do let me know!


 Shopping, The Home 
10
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Castle Windows: 9 Windows + 3 Sliding Doors = $7000

I got a heck of a deal from Castle Windows three weeks ago, I would be getting 9 windows (all standard sizes) and 3 sliding doors (standard sizes too) for a final price of $7000. The actual cost to me would be $6500 since I could take advantage of the $500 tax break afforded to folks who replace windows and doors to more energy efficient models. The windows aren’t super cheap garbage windows, they’re double hung acrylic, double paned and argon filled, windows with lifetime warranties that are transferable. They aren’t Anderson or Pella but they have self-reported ratings higher than those in many of the categories and so I’m pretty confident they are solid windows. Oh yeah, and the Better Business Bureau hasn’t had a single unresolved complaint in the last three years. (And I have a 6 month same as cash home improvement loan)

How did I get that deal? I got lucky. Extremely lucky. A similar quote from another local window company put the price of the job at closer to $10,000. In fact, the sales manager Bob called me up and, after asking a question about the color of the windows, he told me that they’d be losing money on the job… the salesman should’ve quoted closer to $10,000 than $7,000 but they’d still honor it. Could they have been blowing smoke up my butt? Perhaps, but they’d still honor it regardless so I don’t see a reason for them to make it up right? (If you plan on calling up Castle for a quote, let them know that Jim in Columbia, MD sent you!)

I was lucky because I ran into an inexperienced salesman who was new on the job. Did I recognize that and try to take advantage? No, I didn’t even really notice. I didn’t even employ any negotiation tactics except giving a brief silent treatment after he dropped the quote (to see if he’d drop the price) so I can’t even claim any cleverness on my part. Sometimes things fall into place and you get lucky… and when they do, you pull the trigger on the deal (it’s hard to spend $7,000 all at once!).


 Free, Frugal Living 
0
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Low Cost Weekend Ideas: Visit A Museum Tomorrow For Free

Tomorrow is Museum Day, sponsored by the Smithsonian. You will need to print out this Museum Day card, good for two people to participating museums.

On September 30, 2006, for one day only, museums across the country will join the Smithsonian Institution in its long-standing tradition of offering free admission to visitors.

I think we might check out the Maryland Science Center tomorrow, I’ve always seen the building but never actually went inside. Now, some of the museums are always free (like many near the Cut in Washington, D.C.) but they’re just getting in on the fun anyway.

Thanks Lifehacker!


 General 
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With Southwest Airlines, Changing Flights Is Easy and Free

With the exception of business travel, everytime I’ve stepped on an airplane the last five years it’s been onto one operated by Southwest Airlines (I’d say it’s at least 20 flights). I fly Southwest because they have the cheapest airline tickets, the easiest frequent flyer program, a major hub twenty minutes from my current house and another one twenty minutes from my childhood house, and is brave enough to put themselves on television. (That last one isn’t a reason to fly but that transparency is unparalleled) Yesterday, I had another reason I could throw on that list – switching your flight on Southwest Airlines is both easy and free. There is no flight change fee and you can do it entirely online. At other airlines, there is typically a $50 change fee on top of the difference in fare, which will usually be a full rate fare because “that’s how it is.” Often, an online e-ticket can’t even be changed at all. The flight change process with Southwest Airlines is entirely online too!

  • First, you must have your confirmation number and the name on the credit card used to initially purchase the flight.
  • Then, click on TRAVEL CENTER in the top navigation menu.
  • Under the Travel Tools column, click on Change Air Reservation.
  • Enter in your confirmation number and name on the card.
  • You’ll be presented with the legs of your flight, check the boxes for the ones you want to replace.
  • When you enter that in, the next page will look similar to the regular Reservations window. Just progress as usual. You won’t have to put in any personal information at this point because they already know it.
  • When you reach the summary page, you’ll notice that it’s similar to the regular Summary page except that the new price will be offset by the price of your existing tickets. For me, the price was the same so the final cost was $0.00.
  • Once you submit, you’ll be sent a new email with the details of your trip.

Notice there was no change flight fee, no heartburn, and it was all online. Every other airline should be as easy to deal with as Southwest Airlines.


 Banking, Credit 
6
comments

Emigrant Direct LOWERS Rate to 5.05%

Looks like Emigrant Direct has enough money and that it doesn’t need anymore… they announced today that they were dropping their interest rates from 5.15% to 5.05% effective tomorrow (the 30th). ING Direct’s current rate is a paltry 4.40% and there are a whole slew of online banks offering much higher rates including newcomer E-Loan and their 5.50% rate.

Right now, if I was going to open an online account I’d go with E-Loan. Check out Bank Deals for information on the details of the E-Loan offering and Punny Money for real life anecdote on how to open an E-Loan savings account.


 Personal Finance, The Home 
9
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Ten Tips for Buying A Home If You’re Clueless

The Money 101 lessons are pretty good, especially if you have no idea to start, and lesson 8 involves buying a home – quite possibly the biggest financial decision you’ll ever make (besides having kids, getting married, and retiring… so… it’s pretty important). They outline ten “tips” that you probably should know. Now, before you start reading these tips and scream about how obvious these tips are, remember that you don’t know what you don’t know and lots of people have absolutely no idea. In fact, before I started researching the process, I didn’t know that you could get a loan for more than 80% (oh, you can!).

Here are the tips:

1. Don’t buy if you can’t stay put.

2. Start by shoring up your credit.

3. Aim for a home you can really afford.

4. Don’t worry if you can’t put down the usual 20 percent.

5. Buy in a district with good schools.

6. Get professional help.

7. Choose carefully between points and rate.

8. Before house hunting, get pre-approved.

9. Do your homework before bidding.

10. Hire a home inspector.

via CNN Money.


 Education 
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PFCollege: Use Student Loans for School Only!

Personal Finance for College Students Series SealStudent loans come in all colors, flavors and sizes but they mean one thing for a ‘poor’ college kid – easy money. I was lucky enough to get out of college with only $25,000 or so in student loan debt but all of the $25k went towards tuition. I actually didn’t even have the opportunity to test my will power because the proceeds from the loan were directly deposited into my account at the university, so I can’t take credit for not spending it on a nice flat screen television or a new computer. That being said, it’s critically important that you not spend your student loan check on anything other than student related expenses. In fact, if you are getting more money than you need, return it.

Some would argue that the generally favorable terms of a student loan represents easy access to funding that you could use to invest in the stock market or in a business idea. Some would say that you should take it and enjoy your college years, you have the rest of your life to be responsible. I say: resist the urge, return the money. This all goes back to the idea of keeping the financial hole you’re in as shallow as possible while you don’t have any appreciable income. When you graduate, you will be entering the work force and the debt you’ve acquired in college will only hold you back.

After the grace period of the loan expires, if a grace period exists, you’ll have to start making monthly payments on the debt. Those payments are going to be a drain on your financial situation because if you have any significant amount of debt, you’ll be paying it off for a very long time (at minimum amounts). If you’ve taken on the debt in order to get a degree, then it’s wholeheartedly worth it. If you took it on to “enjoy yourself” then you’ll be kicking yourself once you have more responsibility.

This article is part of a new series I’ve started called Personal Finance for College Students (hence, PF College).


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