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Be the Hostess with the Mostess with Booze on a Budget

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Gabi.Moskowitz)
at 9:00AM Monday March 10, 2014
under Stuff We Like

Hosting impromptu parties is a whole lot more fun when you already have the beverages on hand. With just a little good planning and some smart shopping, you can be mixing fancy cocktails in no time—all in the comfort of your own home and for less money than you think. I typically buy mid-range liquor brands for mixed drinks, reserving higher-priced top shelf liquors (which I pick up at BevMo, Trader Joe's or warehouse stores like Costco or Sam's Club) for drinking without mixers.

To stock your at-home bar on a budget, you'll need:

Vodka, Gin, Light Rum: $12-$18 for 750 ml.

These are the building blocks to nearly every cocktail—and the most versatile spirits to have around, making them extremely cost-effective.

Recommended brands: Seagrams (vodka and gin) and Castillo (rum). Read More »

Free music roundup: songs, albums, and samplers, oh my!

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Rick.Broida)
at 12:27PM Thursday March 6, 2014
under Freebies

First things first: Are you a card-carrying member of your local library? (What? You're not? Did you know they'll let you take home all the books you want for free? Seriously,go grab yourself something to read. I'm about a quarter into Khaled Hosseini's "And the Mountains Echoed," and it's just outstanding. Or if you want something a little easier to digest, I couldn't put down last year's "Gone Girl." Did I mention you can get these andother books for free?)

Where was I? Oh, right: Are you a card-carrying member of your local library? Then you should know about Freegal Music, a site that partners with libraries to provide free MP3 downloads. Read More »

Dept of Commerce says people prefer to shop in-person? Not on my watch!

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Grant.Pardee)
at 11:01AM Wednesday March 5, 2014
under Stuff We Like

Hello, it's me, Grant, the guest blogger for savingsdotcom who has brought you such guest blogs as Other Things You Can Do With Your CVS Receipt; Asking Customer Service Reps What Their Most Expensive Item Is; and Absurdly Expensive Things Can You Buy on Ebay. Here's a little something you should know about me: I love commerce. It's kind of my jam. Buying things is the best, right? It's just so good. My ideal vacation would be: me, anywhere, with an unlimited cash pile, an internet-connected device, and some of my favorite online retailers, just making purchase after purchase after purchase. I wouldn't even use or enjoy most of the things I would buy. That part is irrelevant to me. I just love the thrill of the chase, and also the thrill of clicking "Yes, I am a returning customer."

Check this out: Data recently released from the Dept. of Commerce shows the percentages of retail sold in stores versus online, and the even though it feels like online shopping has become this monolithic enterprise in the way we make our purchases, the truth is that people overwhelmingly still prefer buying their goods in person. Read More »

What your tax level says about you

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Cheryl.Lock)
at 12:30PM Tuesday March 4, 2014
under Stuff We Like

Oh, taxes … how I loathe thee.

It's not just that I loathe them, though (although I really, really do!) — it's that I don't completely understand them. Did you know that tax brackets can change every year? And that every year (for the most part) the amount of money you can sock away for retirement changes? And that that amount also changes based on how much money you make?

I mean – talk about making things difficult.

To help make it through this harrowing tax season, we wanted to dig a bit deeper into "tax brackets." What are the tax brackets for 2013 (for taxes due April 15, 2014) … and what does your tax bracket say about you?

For Your 2013 Taxes
The first thing you should know when it comes to your tax bracket is … drum roll, please … which one you're in. Here's a look at the breakdown by income for 2013: Read More »

Avoid road-trip food disasters with this newly free app

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Rick.Broida)
at 8:20AM Tuesday March 4, 2014
under Freebies

An incredibly sad true story: During a recent road trip, I was cruising along the Interstate, starving for some lunch, when I came to an exit promising "food" in the form of Arby's.

The horror, the horror.

But what choice did I have? The next exit might be 20-30 miles, and who knew if the pickings would be any better? So I stopped. I ate. And then I hit the road again.

Now for the sad part: Just five miles later, I spotted a Panera Bread. And a Chik-Fil-A! Oh, wretched fate. Read More »

5 cheap cuts of meat (and how to make them taste like a million bucks)

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Gabi.Moskowitz)
at 9:00AM Monday March 3, 2014
under Stuff We Like

When you're trying to grocery shop on a budget, cutting out meat often seems like an obvious first step. With prime cuts costing upwards of $12 per pound, it's easy to feel tempted to fill your cart with Top Ramen.

Not so fast.

With a little bit of simple technique (and I mean simple), it's easy to turn super- cheap cuts of meat into the gourmet centerpiece of your meal. Read on for 5 often overlooked cuts of meat that are both easy on your wallet and pleasing to your belly.

Bone-in Chicken Thighs

About $1.50 per pound

chicken leg

I've pretty much had it with boneless, skinless chicken breast. Sure, it's lean, but how likely are you to stick to a healthy diet if your chicken is as boring as the 4th of July in Canada? Rather, I go for bone-in chicken thighs, or what's sometimes called the "whole leg". It's incredibly cheap, and unlike its boneless, skinless brethren, it's loaded with flavor and just enough fat to keep it moist. It's fabulous grilled with barbecue sauce, but I also love to roast it slathered with garlic, olive oil, herbs, lemon zest, salt and pepper. I throw in a couple of quartered onions and 2 scrubbed, cubed potatoes, and roast the whole thing at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes or so. The result is super-tender chicken with a delightfully crisp skin, and the most flavorful potatoes ever. It's a one-dish wonder for the ages. Read More »

The Greed of Antivax: Passing the cost of immunity on to others

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Mike.Pearl)
at 10:54AM Friday February 28, 2014
under Newsworthy

childinjection
(via flickr user julien harneis)

The Antivax movement, whose members (antivaxers) choose not to give their kids vaccines, seems to be spreading. In 2012, the CDC found that about ten percent of parents had delayed or forgone vaccinations. If exposed to an infectious disease, these unvaccinated kids could be infected with certain kinds of pneumonia, diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, and the flu, while children who have been immunized would almost never be susceptible to any of these.

Antivaxers have usually read something on the internet that convinced them. This could have been the preaching of Viera Scheibner, who believes children need more diseases. It might be because of a study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield that linked vaccines to autism until his publisher formally retracted it because there wasn't any link, at all, whatsoever. It could be caused by fears about aluminum and formaldehyde in vaccines, despite these common "adjuvants" not being capable of harming children unless the doses are multiplied to cartoonish levels. Other antivaxers are afraid mercury is in there, which it isn't, with one easily avoidable exception. Read More »

Kinivo ZX120: The best portable speaker $20 can buy

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Rick.Broida)
at 9:00AM Friday February 28, 2014
under Product Review

I'm about to make your ears really happy and your wallet downright ecstatic.A few weeks back I reviewed the Qube2, a portable Bluetooth speaker that delivered pretty amazing sound--but cost a pretty painful $80.

If you're not hung up on Bluetooth, you can get a seriously amazing portable speaker for one-fourth the price.

It's the Kinivo ZX120, a new, upgraded version of the already very popular ZX100. And it currently sells at Amazon for $19.99 (plus shipping, unless you're an Amazon Prime subscriber, in which case shipping is free). Read More »

Absurdly expensive things to buy on eBay

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Grant.Pardee)
at 9:00AM Wednesday February 26, 2014
under Stuff We Like

Last week, I checked in with some of my top merch bros, Target, Walmart, and Amazon -- pretty much your standard dream team of online sellers -- to identify the most expensive items they sell that I could buy. The results weren't completely satisfying to me.

You see, ever since infancy, my only desire in life has been to accumulate a vast amount of wealth and then spend it recklessly online. I would be enjoying my toddler years by running around on wobbly legs when my parents would ask me, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" And I would tell them, "the means for me are irrelevant. I want money, mother, I want obscene money and it doesn't much matter to me how I get it." Naturally, this alarmed my parents and in fact most people within earshot, but everyone assumed it was just a phase I would grow out of. Read More »

Get a free digital copy of Pixar's "The Incredibles"

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Rick.Broida)
at 11:01AM Tuesday February 25, 2014
under Freebies

You don't often see the words "Disney" and "free" in the same sentence. More often it's "Disney" and "price hike," like yesterday when the company announced plans to raise Disney World ticket prices to $99.

Guess that's how they can afford this giveaway. (What, me bitter?)

Today, Disney announced its new Movies Anywhere service, which provides access to a library of over 400 Disney, Pixar, and Marvel flicks--really, really good stuff like "The Avengers," "Frozen," and "Up."

More on that in a bit. For now, the important news: You can get a free digital copy of "The Incredibles" when you create a Disney account and link it to your iTunes account. And it's the best kind of free: no hassles, no strings attached. (Well, okay, the "string" is the need to have an iTunes account. Is there anyone out there who doesn't?) Read More »

Michelin-quality food on an intern's budget

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Gabi.Moskowitz)
at 9:00AM Monday February 24, 2014
under Stuff We Like

Let's be honest. The idea of eating gourmet food every day is nice and all, but when it's the end of a long day and you are somehow faced with the task of getting dinner on the table, it can be pretty tempting to just defrost a frozen meal or call out for help (AKA pizza delivery). You want to eat well, but you don't exactly consider yourself a culinarian. And besides, cooking is hard and takes a long time, right? Right?!

Microwave Cooking for One
(photo credit: seriouseats.com)

Wrong.

The truth is, with just a tiiiiny bit of planning and prep, you can kick your food repertoire up several notches, making it taste better, faster. Even if you're lazy, tired and broke, you can cook and eat like someone who knows what they're doing. Read More »

Aaron's thinks "Max Your Tax!" is a good slogan. The deal is even worse than it sounds

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Mike.Pearl)
at 1:16PM Friday February 21, 2014
under Shop Smarter

Aarons
via Google Street View

It's not as hilarious as Coke's notorious "Bite the wax tadpole!" but Aaron's "Max Your Tax!" slogan this spring sounds equally unpalatable. The posters and commercials make clear that they ostensibly want you to maximize the value of your tax return. But it's just as well. The misreading conveys what'll really happen to you if you shop at Aaron's when your check from the IRS comes.

Read More »