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Why I’m no longer afraid to deposit checks by mobile phone

by Jen A. Miller on October 20, 2014


Your co-worker, your neighbor, the corner market owner. They all joined the modern world long ago.

For awhile I was reluctant, but I too have gotten hip to the new age.

Yes, I’ve started cashing checks through my smartphone

I resisted the convenience for two big reasons.

First, when the technology debuted, the time from upload to deposit was slow. At least, that was the case when ING Direct, now Capital One 360, first offered CheckMate in 2012.

The bank would make $100 per check available in my account the business day after I made the mobile deposit. The remaining balance on the deposited check became available a week later. And any check for more than $3,000 had to be deposited by mail.

I’m a freelancer writer, and a lot of my clients still pay me in paper checks.

That kind of time between the deposit and when the money became available is unacceptable.

Why jump through these hoops when I could just go to the bank a mile from my house, deposit a check through the ATM and get access to all of my money the next day?
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‘Free’ smart phone game is a shameless money suck

by Jen A. Miller on August 18, 2014


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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New law mandates in-state tuition for vets studying at all public colleges starting next year

by Jen A. Miller on August 11, 2014


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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Online coupons and discount codes can save lots of money, at lots of stores, on lots of stuff

by Jen A. Miller on July 21, 2014

Although I’m a frugal person, I’ve never been a couponer.

Cutting out and organizing paper coupons takes a lot of time. I saw my mom do this when I was a kid and it looked like an exhausting way to save a couple bucks.

So beyond checking out the ValPak that comes in the mail (there, I get $1 off at the local bagel shop and $7 off an oil change), I don’t clip.

But I still want to get the best possible price. That’s why I check for online coupons and discount codes before shopping almost anywhere, for almost anything.

Here are three sites that can help you with that, no scissors required.
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Are hamsters the cheapest, yet cutest, pets ever?

by Jen A. Miller on June 09, 2014


We shall now pause to consider one of the Internet’s most hotly debated financial topics: The relative worth of hamsters.

Well, to be honest, we aren’t going to waste so much as a pixel on the curmudgeonly views of hamster haters. (What is wrong with some people?)

But we will take a realistic, dollars-and-cents look at just how much they cost to own — and just how adorable they can be.

When Jennifer Keishin Armstrong and her then-boyfriend decided to get a pet together, they didn’t even consider a cat or dog.

“A friend of mine had just bought a dwarf hamster for her daughter,” says Armstrong, who today lives with her now domestic partner in Manhattan. “When I saw that, I thought ‘I must have one of those.’”

Three years later she’s had five.

“They’re the cutest little things,” Armstrong says. “I love sitting there watching TV and holding them.”
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Traveling abroad requires planning at home to avoid unexpected fees on credit card and cell phone bills

by Jen A. Miller on May 12, 2014


My big trip this year is a 10-day Italian vacation. I’m excited, but I’m also doing a lot of planning beyond where to get the best pizza and what shoes to bring.

I’m making sure that I spend as little as possible on foreign transaction fees, current exchanges, and smartphone use so I’m not hit with any surprise charges once I’m back in the U.S.

Here’s what I’m doing before I go to make sure there are no nasty surprises when I get home.

Credit Cards

You want to bring a card that has no foreign transaction fees. Otherwise, you’ll be paying an extra 3% on everything you charge.

Fortunately, there’s lot of these cards are available.

If you already have a Capitol One card, you’re set — they’re foreign transaction fee free across the board. Most hotel and airline rewards cards are the same way.

If you’re signing up for a card just because it doesn’t charge those fees, make sure it also doesn’t also have an annual membership fee, or that you cancel it before the fee kicks in (most waive the fee for the first year), or that the fee is worth it.

I’m bringing my Chase Sapphire Preferred card with me as my main credit card (with a Bank of America card as a backup).
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