Personal Finance 
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Bank Services More Important Than Interest Rate

A few weeks ago I asked for your opinion of the best high yield savings account and the one thing I learned something very interesting. With interest rates as low as they are, with many banks offering less than 2%, it’s the other services and amenities that dictate which bank you’ll work with.

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 Frugal Living 
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How to Become a Coupon Ninja in 15 Minutes A Week

I love a good deal.

Coupons VendorFor years, I’ve seen all the grocery store coupon sites out there listing wonderful combo deals, how you can get free this and free that, but I never did it because I didn’t want to spend the time it takes to clip, sort, and manage coupons. I didn’t want to try to match them up with the sales circulars and double/triple coupon promotions to get the best deal possible.

I have nothing against people who do this, in fact I’m very envious of their organizational ability. I know that’s what it took to be a coupon ninja, I’d probably last a week or two, then it would fall by the wayside the first chance it could. That’s just how I am (I don’t bother with new year’s resolutions either!).

However, there’s a much easier way to be a coupon ninja and it involves the power of the internet.

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 Banking 
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Top Online Banks: Savings or Checking Accounts

The key to finding the best online savings account at the best online bank comes down to interest rates. The bells and whistles are nice but ultimately it’s about the money and the bank with the highest interest rates will win. That’s why we’ve included a table of the best interest savings account rates followed by a review of some of the more popular online banks. The best online bank for you may depend on a lot of factors outside of the interest rate, which is why minimum balances, fee, and other details are included in the table. One thing is clear, online savings accounts always pay more than a regular brick and mortar.

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 Your Take 
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Your Take: Renting Large Tools

Home Depot Tool RentalOne of the fun things about running a blog is being able to hold giveaways where I can give readers some really awesome things. Today, I have the opportunity to offer up a $200 gift card from Home Depot to one lucky Bargaineering.com reader.

Last week, Fred from One Project Closer’s wrote a guest post about frugal tool options and several people emailed me to ask if I had any personal experience renting tools. If you remember, renting tools was Fred’s #3 recommendation after borrowing and co-op buying (I would’ve listed renting as a #2, before co-op buying).

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 Frugal Living 
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Making Homemade Bread Crumbs

Bread CrustsAs some of you may know, I volunteer at Meals on Wheels every Tuesday morning. One of the perks of donating two hours each week is that I sometimes take home a meal, when there are extras, and I often get a bag of bread loaf ends, that would otherwise get thrown out. I was talking with Rhonda, our Meals on Wheels kitchen coordinator extraordinaire (among other good things), and she recommended that I turn them into breadcrumbs. I only started taking the ends last week and I’ve just been eating them, making breadcrumbs is so much more exciting!

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 Business 
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Best Business Credit Cards

My friend Matt started a business and wanted to know what the best business credit card was. I’ll list what I consider the best options below but in general here’s what I look for:

  • No annual fee: If you’re a startup, you want to keep costs as low as possible until you get your revenues up. Having to pay a hundred dollars a year, as little as that sounds, is a hundred dollars you can’t put back into your business to grow it as quickly as possible. Just as I wouldn’t get a consumer credit card with an annual fee, if I was a startup I’d avoid a card with an annual fee. Fortunately there are plenty of options.
  • Rewards: I look at rewards from two angles. First, I want to get better than 1% rewards or cash back in categories that I will be spending a lot in such as office supply, advertising, etc. Second, if I’m getting points, I want to ensure the reward catalog has products I would buy with my own money. I don’t want gift cards to chain restaurants I never visit. I don’t want electronics or DVDs I can buy for cheaper online.
  • Promotional APRs: Many businesses have been built on the shoulders of consumer credit card debt. I don’t advocate going into debt to start a business, but if you’re going to then it’s best to get a credit card that will give you 0% APY for six or twelve months on your purchases or balance transfers. These offers are becoming rarer because credit card companies are reducing their risk but they still exist.
  • Don’t use your consumer credit card: You can use a consumer credit card as a business card but be sure to use it only for business expenses (even this is suspect, depends on who you ask). If you don’t properly separate the two “worlds,” then you could run into liability issues down the road. Be sure to check with a business attorney or your accountant though.


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 Banking 
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Best Money Market Account (MMA) Rates

(Updated 9/1) In the world of banking products, you are always trading off interest rate for flexibility. Typically the higher the interest rate, the less flexible the account. Take CD rates for example, they are often higher than savings accounts and they are less flexible. You decide how long you’re willing to keep your money locked up and then pick a bank that offers the best rate for that term. If you wish to get your money early, you pay penalty. On the other end are checking accounts. Checking accounts have the worst interest rates but offer the most flexibility. You can get your cash whenever you want it, write as many checks as you’d like, and visit your own ATM without penalty. For that flexibility, you earn very little, if any, interest.

Where does that leave money market accounts?

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 Credit 
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How Students Use Credit Cards

Sallie MaeEach year, Sallie Mae does a national study on how undergraduate college students use credit cards and their usage trends. 2009′s report was released this week with a bang because they discovered that credit card usage has increased to levels never seen before.

Here are some staggering statistics:

  • Students have an average of 4.6 credit cards!
  • 84% of students have at least one credit card.
  • The average (mean) balance is $3,173, the highest ever recorded in the study’s history.
  • The median balance was $1,645 with 21% of students having between $3,000 and $7,000 in debt.
  • 39% of students already have a credit card before they arrive on campus.
  • Median debt of those students was $939, up from $373 in 2004, with only 15% having a $0 balance.
  • Students graduate with an average of $4,100 in credit card debt with almost 20% having more than $7,000 owed on credit cards.
  • A third of students rarely or never discussed credit card use with parents.


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