Education 
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Should I Invest in a Prepaid College Plan?

What if you could lock in your child’s college tuition at today’s prices? Prepaid college tuition plans are now offered in ten states and for those who are worried about the rising price of a college education along with the uncertainty of investment markets, buying tomorrow’s education at today’s prices seems like an easy decision.

But financial planners are largely unconvinced. Although this chart shows that the college tuition inflation rate has long been much higher than the general inflation rate, the decision, according to the 89% of financial planners who don’t use these prepaid plans, isn’t as easy as the numbers may indicate.

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 Shopping 
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Ebates Review: Get Cash Back for Shopping

There are a number of credit card reward programs that allow you to get cash back when you spend money using your card. While these programs can be a good way to make the most out of a credit card, they are inaccessible to those who don’t want to use credit.

If you don’t like credit, you can still earn cash back, though. Ebates is one of the most popular online shopping rewards web sites. This site provides you with an opportunity to earn money — just for buying what you normally would.
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 Personal Finance 
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How to Print USPS Postage At Home For Free

USPS Mail TubPrinting postage at home is one of the best ways to save yourself time. There’s nothing more infuriating than going to the post office, especially as we near tax season and everyone is rushing to mail their taxes (efile people!), and seeing a line of fifteen people and only two postal workers at the registers. Millions of dollars of productivity is lost each year because we have to wait in line.

Fortunately, the USPS has entered the modern era and now offers a lot of nice technological solutions to their inadequate staffing (the workers at my post office are great, there just aren’t enough of them) like the automated kiosks (fantastic). The best solution, however, is the ability to print USPS postage at home for packages without an extra fee.

(The title of this post might be a little confusing, you don’t print free postage, that’s stealing. What you avoid are fees that services like Stamps.com will charge you because there are other options out there where no fees are involved.)

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 The Home 
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Building a Budget Friendly Home Gym

GymIf you’ve ever priced gym equipment you know that it’s expensive. Like other products, there are economy priced models but when you’re purchasing something that will inevitably take a beating over its life, the cheap equipment is rarely a good value. Once you put a price on the equipment you think you need, that $40 per month gym membership doesn’t seem so expensive anymore.

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on home equipment and you don’t want to pay a monthly gym membership fee, there are ways to put together a home gym on a budget.

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 Taxes 
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How to Get Your Tax Refund Faster

TaxesWhen you have money coming to you, it’s natural to want that money as fast as possible. Your tax refund represents money that the government owes to you, so it is perfectly normal to want that money quickly. Once you know that you have a tax refund coming to you, it’s possible to get your money in 10 days (or less) if you plan it right.

Your best bet is to combine e-file with direct deposit. That will provide you with the fastest possible tax refund.

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 Cars 
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Regular Gas in Premium Gas Cars Won’t Save Much Money

Mobilgas GulfWith gas prices on the rise (something that always seems happens as the weather gets warmer), everyone is trying to find ways to cut down on the cost of filling up each week. If you’re one of the many “premium” car owners, you’ve probably considered putting regular unleaded in your tank instead of the more expensive premium fuel – don’t.

You know how premium gasoline in a car that only needs regular gasoline will see no benefit? (it’s known as the high octane gas myth – premium fuel doesn’t correspond with a higher miles per gallon) Regular gasoline in a premium engine is less efficient and you don’t save as much money as you’d think. Your miles per gallon with a premium fuel in a premium engine is higher than with regular fuel in that same engine.

Autoglance did scoured the web for some self-reported figures and discovered that across eight luxury vehicles, the cost per mile saves was less than one cent per mile. The MPG with premium gasoline (91 or 93 octane), which on average cost $3.75 per gallon, was obviously higher than with regular (87 octane), average cost of $3.47 per gallon, but it was higher by a large enough margin that the cost savings per mile shrank to about half a cent. This wasn’t a scientific study and ultimately the best answer is to do the test yourself but the results show that chances are you won’t come out a winner (and it’s not a large enough difference to even warrant a test).

The lesson from this isn’t new, that you should use the fuel your car tells you to use, but it is confirmation.

Have you done any similar tests? I would give it a try except I don’t have a car that takes premium fuel (and we already know premium fuel in a regular car is meaningless).

(Photo: somegeekintn)


 Personal Finance 
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Healthy Habits that Aren’t So Healthy for Your Wallet

Healthy RunningWe’re all much more health conscious thanks to the educational efforts of the medical community as well as the manufacturers of all of those must have health products. Because of this campaign, many Americans are making an effort to live a healthy lifestyle.

Outside of our finances, nobody can argue that a more health conscious lifestyle is a  great choice but those decisions can add up when we start looking at our bank account. Did you ever think that these healthy decisions could add up to some big bucks? Here are a few examples.

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 Taxes 
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Don’t Forget these Important Tax Documents

IRS 1040 Tax FormAs you prepare to file your taxes, it’s important to make sure that you have all of the forms you need. Whether you prepare your own taxes, or take them to an accountant, there are a few must-haves when it comes to your tax documents.

Make sure that you are ready — well ahead of time — with the documents you need. You don’t want to be scrambling to put everything together at the last minute. You’ll feel a lot less stress if you are organized earlier. Here are some of the documents you need as you file your taxes:
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