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


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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 The Home 
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Some surprising help turned my long search for new windows into a low-cost (or lower-cost) reality

I was clicking around the Groupon app one evening on my iPad when I ventured beyond the food and drink deals I normally scout to ones for home services.

I expected to find discounted housecleaning, not a significant savings on windows and installation.

But two months later, five new vinyl replacement windows graced our condo — purchased in part with a $1,999 Groupon.

My husband and I had been eyeing new windows for the rear of our home for some time.

When our century-old Chicago home was rehabbed in 1984, the majority of its windows were “updated” with aluminum windows.

Thirty years later, they were a struggle to open. If you did manage to push one up, it wouldn’t stay up.

The pane would come crashing down the second you let go of it. On every aluminum window, the balance — that handy mechanism inside a window that keeps it open — was kaput.
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 Cars 
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Stop worrying…You probably didn’t pay too much for your new car


Most of us like to tell “fish stories,” and they often include tales about the great deal we negotiated on our new car or truck.

But behind closed doors, many of us obsess that we really paid too much.

At least that’s the conclusion of the first annual TrueCar Buyer Study, which polled more than 3,000 consumers across the country.

Despite all of the pricing information at our fingertips on sites like Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com) and Edmunds.com, it seems many new-car shoppers have no real idea how much the dealer is making in any given deal.

Because of that, 26% of new-car buyers believe they overpaid for their car.

Many of those surveyed guesstimated the dealer makes about 20% profit on the sale of a $30,000 new car. That would be about $6,000.
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 Shopping 
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Online coupons and discount codes can save lots of money, at lots of stores, on lots of stuff

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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 Culture Cents 
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Go to the movies? At these prices it’s got to be a great flick to get me off the couch

If you decide to spend a night out at the movies, you better be certain you’re going to love that film.

In my opinion, movie-going has become too expensive to be a casual pastime anymore.

The theater industry says the average ticket costs right around $8, but that has to include discounted prices for kids and seniors.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember the last time I paid anything like $8 to get into a movie. So I went online to see how much the typical adult ticket cost.

I found theaters charging $13.75 in New York City and $12 in San Francisco. Prices were somewhat lower at suburban Boston ($11) and Minneapolis ($10.75) and a big college town like Austin ($10).

But $8? Not until I checked a theater in Grinnell, Iowa (population 9,100). There I found an $8 adult ticket.

If you want to see that blockbuster action flick in 3-D or IMAX, expect a $3 to $5 surcharge added onto every ticket.
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 Bank Deals 
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Kick start your savings with goal-based accounts


Saving money is always one of the top New Year’s resolutions, but halfway through the year, you’ve usually kicked that goal to the curb.

Hard to believe, but some banks and credit unions actually want to help you make those resolutions stick, paying higher interest rates or bonuses if you stash money in your savings regularly.

Play it right and you could get an extra $250 added to your account or earn 2.50% APY on your savings.

What’s the catch? You typically need to contribute monthly to these goal-based savings accounts, and leave it there. No making withdrawals to buy Justin Timberlake concert tickets or the latest Coach handbag.

It’s tempting to “want to spend money to keep up with the Joneses,” says Brett Engel, manager of deposit products at Baxter Credit Union, or BCU as it is usually called, in Vernon Hills, Ill. But once you start setting money aside, “you get excited. You want to see more digits in your bank account.”
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 Cars 
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Be ready for insurers to ask your car what really happened in an accident


The next time you file an accident claim don’t be surprised if your insurance company wants to download data from your car or truck to make sure you’re telling the truth.

No one knows exactly how much auto-insurance fraud goes on, but experts peg the losses at up to $30 billion.

That covers a wide range of cheating, from lying on an application to staging accidents and bogus injuries. But deliberately deceitful accounts about how a wreck occurred are part of the problem, too.

Let’s say a driver sideswipes a parked car or backs into tree.

Instead of reporting the mishap as it actually happened, he drives to the mall, parks his car and claims to be victim of a parking-lot hit and run.

A law enforcement officer will more than likely take the driver at his word, write up the report as a hit and run, and the driver will file a claim with his insurance carrier.

Although insurers know this kind of fraud happens every day, they’ve chosen to pretty much ignore it.

That’s changing however, as those companies consider making better use of the Event Data Recorder (EDR) that’s in most vehicles today and will be in all new vehicles this fall.
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 Observations 
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Mobile finance apps have reduced my spending…And I don’t even use them


Do you want to change your spending, saving and budgeting habits, but keep putting off downloading a financial app because that would make it all just too real?

Well, I have found a solution to this problem — or at the very least, a step in the right direction.

This solution is relatively stress-free and doesn’t require you to do much at all, because it involves a psychological trick you play on yourself. (I do wonder—will this work now that I’ve exposed it?)

I’ve downloaded a number of finance apps, but have never been able to use them with any degree of consistency.

Some I delete, some are too painful to look at, some I just choose to ignore. Most recently, I downloaded an app that reminds me at 7 p.m. to upload my expenses and income for that day.

I haven’t entered anything in ages, and yet, for some reason, I continue to allow the app to notify me every day, rather than simply deleting it. (The notifications often pop up right about when I’m in the process of spending too much money on dinner).

Despite my decision to accept these nagging requests as a mere annoyance in my life (I have to actively cancel out of them), I have found myself undergoing some new, personal changes.
(Click to continue reading…)


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