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Shop Around for Cable: DirecTV vs. Comcast vs. Verizon

by Melissa Batai on October 30, 2012

Zenith RemoteFinance blogs often explore how customers can save money on cable or even cut their cable, and while this can definitely save money, making such a big change can leave some customers without their favorite shows. Those who want to watch a number of sports on television or watch specific regional teams have few alternatives.

So if you don’t want to cut your cable and just want to know what packages are out there so you can try to negotiate for a better offer, we’ve put together some of the current promotions available from some of the largest carriers. If you have one of these competitors in your area, check out their regional offer and see if you can get your current provider to match it. If they won’t, switch!

And if you’ve previously cut the cable and want to have it again or you’re just planning to sign up, here’s a quick recap of what’s out there:

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Walmart and American Express Introduce Bluebird – An Alternative to Debit and Checking Accounts

by Melissa Batai on October 29, 2012

The banking landscape is changing, and free checking accounts are becoming harder and harder to find. In an attempt to capture those customers who may feel that they need to unbank or seek an alternative to traditional banking which is becoming more and more expensive, Walmart has partnered with American Express to offer a new card, billed as an alternative to debit and checking accounts, called “Bluebird.”

Dan Schulman, group president, Enterprise Growth, American Express states, “Bluebird is our solution to help consumers who currently may be poorly served by traditional banking products. It allows them to easily and safely move, manage, and spend their money. In an era where it is increasingly ‘expensive to be poor,’ we have worked with Wamart to create a financial services product that rights many of the wrongs that plague the market today”
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5 Low Cost Halloween Party Food Ideas

by Melissa Batai on October 23, 2012

Witch FingersHave you eaten Mummy Dogs before? How about Witches’ Fingers? We’re rounding out our week of Halloween ideas with some party food ideas that will surely make your parties the scariest on the block!

My daughter was born 3 days before Halloween, so when we had her first birthday party, we had a Halloween themed party complete with Mummy Dogs and Witches Fingers. Surprisingly, while the kids loved the fun food, the adults liked it just as much. There is something about Halloween that brings out the kid in all of us.

Even better, many of these ghouly foods don’t cost any more than other party foods, and in some cases, they may be cheaper, which is always a bonus.

If you are planning a Halloween party, here are some fun foods you might want to consider making:

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The Conversation Project – Making Families Feel Better about End of Life Conversations

by Melissa Batai on October 22, 2012

familyMy great uncle Andy was a volunteer for Meals on Wheels, delivering meals to seniors several times a week. He began volunteering after his own retirement and continued until he was in his mid-90s! He was in an excellent health and did not pass away until he was 99. He simply went to sleep one night and didn’t wake up.

While we might all wish for such a long, fulfilling life and such a peaceful death, the unfortunate fact is that my great uncle Andy’s fate is not the way most of us or our older relatives will see our lives end. Many of us have aging parents and grandparents, and while having financial discussions with them is hard enough, perhaps even harder is discussing how they would like their end of life experience to be. “Sixty percent of people say that making sure their family is not burdened by tough decisions is ‘extremely important’”, but “56% have not communicated their end of life wishes” (The Conversation Project).

The Conversation Project was developed to help make having this type of discussion easier and to bring attention to the need to have this talk.
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Consider Selling Your Car & Going Car-less

by Melissa Batai on October 18, 2012

Rusted CarAmericans have a love affair with their automobiles. One of the first ways people want to show off their economic status is through buying a nice vehicle. Even the poorest college student is likely to have a car, though it may be a bit worse for wear. In fact, “Americans own an average of 2.28 vehicles per household, and more than 35 percent of households own three or more cars” (New York Times).

Surviving in America without a car is counterculture and can make life difficult, especially if you live in the suburbs or the country. However, there are times selling your car might be just the right thing to do.
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5 Creative Ways to Pay for College or Get It for Free

by Melissa Batai on October 17, 2012

ClassUnless you want to take out thousands of dollars in student loans, college can seem out of reach. Tuition rates continue to rise faster than inflation, yet college is still a good investment. According to a research study by researchers at Georgetown, those with a high school degree only earn $1.3 million over their career lifetime, while those with a bachelor’s average $2.2 million and those with a Ph.D. earn $3.6 million. A nearly one million dollar difference in earnings between those with a high school degree and those with a bachelor’s degree make college an attractive option despite the cost.

However, if you are creative, you can get your degree without paying a fortune or taking out thousands of dollars of loans.

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Coin Counting: Where to Turn in Your Change for Free

by Melissa Batai on October 16, 2012

CoinsDo you have a jar somewhere in your room filled with spare coins? Most of us do.

While it can be a painless way to let cash accrue and save for things like a vacation or debt snowflaking, turning that change in can be a real pain, especially if you are hit with fees. However, there are ways to avoid the fees and the inconvenience of counting and rolling your own change.

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Sittercity Review: High Tech Way to Find a Babysitter

by Melissa Batai on October 15, 2012

Babysitter NeededThere may be nothing harder than handing over your child to a sitter for the first time. Even though you may need a break, a date night, or simply to go to work, putting your trust in another person to care for your little person can be tough.

While you will probably feel a bit of angst no matter what, there are modern resources that can make you feel more confident about who you entrust to care for your child.

People used to find sitters through word-of-mouth. If the sitter could keep one family happy, then she would soon have many more families calling her. There was no better way to vet a sitter than through a friend’s referral. While that technique is still used, there are other alternatives now.

One of the alternatives that I have relied on heavily is Sittercity.

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