New homes, regardless of their size and design, tend to look a bit naked until trees grow tall enough to frame the yard. But, planting trees shouldn't be haphazard. Landscapers and homeowners alike should consider the size, shape, and growing habits of regional tree types, as well as how trees can enhance the value of a home. In fact, according to the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers, a healthy, mature tree can add between $1,000 and $10,000 to the value of a home.
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Planting a Tree Can Save You Money
Did you know that a good "shade tree" can dramatically impact a home's air conditioning requirements by blocking direct sunlight in the summer? The American Power Association estimates that effective landscaping can reduce a home cooling bill by up to 50%. Likewise, in winter, well-positioned trees (especially Evergreens) can help block the wind, cutting heating costs by 20% to 50%. Other benefits of a tree-lined property include keeping erosion in check by virtue of trees' extensive roots, although you're unlikely to appreciate the value of this service like you might from the energy savings. Trees also absorb carbon dioxide, converting it to oxygen: mature trees alone put out more oxygen than one adult human consumes. ( Continue… )
As deal hunters, it typically pays to buy slightly older devices in favor of tempting deals on newly released tech. But, of the aged and dated items we've spent money on, there are some electronics that are now approaching outright extinction and would make for silly purchases. Some consumers may need the complete functionality of a point-and-shoot camera, for example, but for the majority of us, a smartphone already accomplishes everything we need.
So before you consider buying any of these items below, think long and hard about whether such a device is actually a redundant purchase and, thus, a big waste of your money.
When Google released Google Maps Navigation for Android it knocked 20% off the value of big turn-by-turn navigation players TomTom and Garmin in a single day. Since then, Google Maps has spread to other mobile platforms like iOS, and its accuracy and usability has improved.
So we ask, why would someone pay hundreds of dollars for something we all can get for free? Sure, there are weaknesses with Google Maps, such as the need for cellular service, but it is now possible to load up a map and directions before a journey. Standalone GPS devices simply don't offer enough extras to make them a worthwhile buy anymore.
Blu-rays Discs, DVDs, and Their Players
Where did you last see your VHS player? The garage? Or at a garage sale? Really, who wants to clutter their house up with more junk that will end up in the garage in a few years? Instead, with a media player, a decent Internet connection, and a subscription to some streaming movie and TV show services like Netflix, you can dispense with the need for a DVD or Blu-ray library. Collections are nice, but how many of your DVDs or Blu-rays do you honestly watch more than once? ( Continue… )
Apple just announced its newest flagship device, the iPhone 5s, on September 10 and we've already caught wind of a discount! On September 12 — a mere two days after the phone was unveiled — Walmart announced that it will slash the price of the 16GB iPhone 5s to $189 once it's available on September 20*. While you'll have to go into an actual retail store to get this price, that's still a $10 savings and a promising start. In fact, if history repeats itself, it may foretell fairly substantial iPhone 5s discounts in the coming months.
Update: As is sometimes the case, a deal has come along that surprised even us; Sprint announced yesterday that it will knock the 16GB iPhone 5s to an astonishingly low $99.99. That is, obviously, the lowest price we've seen and by far the best deal you can expect at this point in time. However, this offer is only for new customers who port their number from another carrier. Our predictions below still apply to customers who are looking to extend their contract with a current carrier.
The iPhone 5s Could Drop to $126 in December
Last year around this time, Walmart pulled a similar stunt two days after the iPhone 5 was announced, dropping the device to $189.97 with in-store pickup. Since Walmart has offered almost exactly the same deal this year, it seems reasonable to expect the iPhone 5s to have a similar discount schedule to that of the iPhone 5.
Being on a similar schedule is both good and bad. It's good because the iPhone 5 was the most discounted iPhone we'd ever seen — racking up seven deals in the first four months of its existence. Up to that point, such deep and numerous discounts on the iPhone were unheard of. Compared to the previous year's hot model, the iPhone 4S (which saw only two deals in the same time frame), the iPhone 5 was discounted 350% more! Being on the same discount schedule is bad, however, because it means that we might not see another contract-extension deal until December. ( Continue… )
Did you know that you can save between 20% and 50% on a suit when you buy it online? Michael Lubarsky, contributing fashion writer for AskMen.com, knows that such a discount may be tempting enough to most shoppers, but before you opt into a BOGO suit sale, there are some things you need to know about buying suits online.
Know Your Measurements
Before you buy a suit off the digital racks, you'll need to know your size. To find the perfect jacket fit, measure your chest across the pecks. (This is easier said than done; it's best to have someone else do it, like your local tailor.) It's also important to remember that your jacket sleeve should reveal a half-inch of your shirt cuff. Anything shorter or longer will look disproportionate. Likewise, you can't assume your jeans size will translate perfectly to suit pants. "If you're bursting at the seams of your jeans, you need to go up one size," Lubarsky says. Skin-tight, skinny suit pants are not in, and neither are loose or otherwise ill-fitting garments.
Rely on Your Local Tailor
When buying a suit online, you may have to spend an additional $10 to $15 to hem unfinished pants or correct their length, Lubarsky says. While reasonable, he instead recommends spending a little bit more to get a precise fit from a local tailor.
Tyler Thoreson, head of men's creative and editorial at Gilt MANual, says to take advantage of alterations if they're included with your purchase, but he also recommends a trustworthy tailor. A great-fitting suit is an essential piece in any man's wardrobe, so it's important that you not cut corners on quality nor style.
Opt for Suits with Modern Cuts
If you're looking for a modern-style suit, like Italian or European cuts, you should definitely look online according to Lubarsky. These fitted styles feature a blocky and tailored-at-the-waist jacket. However, such cuts styles typically lack a vent in the back, making them a bit more restrictive than a traditional suit jacket. If you're not in shape or don't like fitted jackets, look for a sport coat or suit jacket with side vents or a central vent, which allow for more movement. The Jos. A. Bank Men's Executive 2-Button Wool Suit with Center Vent and Pleated Front Trousers ($127 with free shipping, a low by $523) is one such example. ( Continue… )
In previous years, when a new iPhone debuted it occupied the top spot in Apple's lineup and knocked older generations down a single rung on the food chain. However, this time around, Apple opted to replace the devices holding the top two spots, dropping the iPhone 4S all the way down to a $0 price point, and discontinuing the 5 all together. As a result, Apple has a new phone at both the $199 and $99 price tiers, the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C, respectively. (All prices are with a 2-year wireless contract.)
Naturally, one might assume that, with Apple ghosting the iPhone 5, the handset will see great discounts from resellers. Yet this is not the tactic that the kindly folks at Best Buy and AT&T have taken. These two merchants have chosen to continue to offer the iPhone 5 for its full, pre-death price of $199.99, despite the fact that the newer 5S has already been announced at that price point. (Update: AT&T has since dropped the price to $99.99.) It's possible that this price retention is related to the fact that the iPhone 5S will not be available for preorder; perhaps these stores figure that they can squeeze a couple more bucks out of those who just don't follow tech news.
However, not only is the 5S technically a better value at $199, but also consider that the newly-announced iPhone 5C is a slight upgrade in hardware specs to the iPhone 5 as well — albeit with a candy-colored, plastic back rather than a slick metal-and-glass design — yet Apple only charges $99 for it. How can Best Buy and AT&T charge more for the iPhone 5, which is arguably an inferior device? ( Continue… )
Open your wallet and clean out the receipts and crumpled bills. Now, count how many retailer loyalty cards are wedged in amongst the credit cards and the like. Quite a few, right? (Now look at your keychain. Are there more there? Thought so!) Of the handful of these cards, we bet you only actually use two or three of them. And this behavior (or lack thereof) has retailers investing in creative, new ways to get customers to re-engage with loyalty programs — for better and worse.
According to LoyaltyOne's research group, Colloquy, there were a staggering 1,035,114,000 retail loyalty memberships in 2012. However, Colloquy also found that out of all rewards programs (including travel and financial products), only 44% of memberships were active. So if a shopper subscribes to 12 loyalty programs, he might only actively use five of them, thus creating a bit of a quandary for retailers; merchants don't care if we're using every last one of our loyalty cards, but each retailer would prefer if customers use theirs.
Incentive Programs Boost Loyalty Program Memberships
Enter incentive programs. Tiered options, in particular, have been making waves as they become more common. Tiered memberships differ from standard retail membership in that not all shoppers earn the same points towards the same rewards. Tiered loyalty programs offer different rewards based on a shopper's status, which is most often determined by how much he or she shops throughout the year. For example, with Best Buy's Reward Zone program, shoppers earn one point for every $1 they spend. After earning 250 points, they earn a $5 gift certificate. But if shoppers spend $2,500 in a calendar year, they're bumped up to Premier Silver status which awards 25% more points for purchases, plus other perks like access to special sales and free delivery. ( Continue… )
Last week, Amazon announced an update to its Kindle Paperwhite eBook Reader. The latest model purportedly features a whiter screen, darker text, and 25% faster page-turning. ars technica also points out that users can now "flip through a book or document without losing their place, add in-line footnotes, and share their books on Goodreads." The new Paperwhite starts at $119 if you opt for special offers, or $139 without. This is the same pricing that we saw for the previous generation, which Amazon apparently no longer offers on its site.
However, numerous resellers like Best Buy, Office Depot, JR.com, and even Quill still feature the original Paperwhite in their stores, and presumably they have at least some stock left over in their inventory. (Interestingly, Staples has removed it.) If these stores do indeed still have stock left, then this situation puts them in that familiar dilemma that retailers regularly face with product cycles; because there's an improved version available at the same starting price, resellers must discount the older generation at a lower cost, in order to clear it out.
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Of course, this practice of discounting the older generation upon the new generation's release is nothing groundbreaking. In this instance however, if it comes to pass, it will be noteworthy simply because we have never seen a deal on the Paperwhite, despite being on the shelves of both Amazon and resellers for nearly a full year. The eBook reader has proven to be very popular with consumers and tech reviewers, so the device has been explicitly excluded from discounts and coupons. But with the second generation due to ship in a few weeks, shoppers might finally see price cuts from resellers. (Amazon itself might even offer a 1-day only sale at some point through a Goldbox-type deal, since it's quite keen on these limited-time "fire sale" deals.) ( Continue… )
t's your turn, ladies, and your patience will be rewarded with this fabulous roundup of shoe deals. Whether you're searching for the edgy, versatile style of Tory Burch, slinky satin flats from Express, or Cole Haan wedges, we've got something to fit your size, style, and budget. Now, are you ready to walk this roundup to great savings? On your feet, and let's go...
Express Women's Satin Flats
Price:$24.43 with $8 s&h
Lowest By: $10
Is It Worth It?: At 30% off, what could be better than the comfort-style combo of these multi-hued satin flats? They feature a 1/4" heel to give you a bit of lift, as well as a padded footbed to make a long day on your feet that much more bearable. They're available in sizes 6 to 10.
And this Express train is making multiple stops on the track to big savings. Express cuts 30% off a larger selection of women's shoes and accessories, with prices starting at $5.60. Plus, coupon code "5903" cuts an extra $15 off orders of $30 or more, $30 off orders of $100 or more, or $40 off orders of $120 or more. Shipping adds $8, but orders of $125 or more qualify for free shipping.
UGG Women's Gaiana Wedges
Price:$48 with free shipping
Lowest By: $72
Expires: September 8
Is It Worth It?: There are many ways in the down-under language of UGG to say "$72 off retail," and they come in Chestnut (pictured), Night, and Raspberry Sorbet. These shoes feature a nubuck upper with an adjustable buckle closure, rubber outsole, and a textile-wrapped midsole. Your feet will feel as plush as they look, as an EVA-cushioned footbed massages the sole with each step. They're available in sizes 6.5 to 12.
And while in general it's hard to find UGGs on sale, 6pm cuts 27% to 60% off a selection of UGG women's boots and shoes, with prices starting at $32. Plus, all orders net free shipping. From canvas sneaks to cozy sandals, they've got you and your feet covered. ( Continue… )
Whole Foods generally takes the (gluten-free and locally sourced) cake for pricey organics, but according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, the upscale grocer is reforming its ways to appeal to more than just the average wealthy foodie. In fact, the brand has begun to employ common discounting methods such as flash sales and "buy one, get one" deals to draw in customers.
Whole Foods may undoubtedly still be a leader in the organic food movement, but the chain now faces stiffer competition from discount grocers like Kroger, which have begun to carry high-end goods at reasonable prices. Coupled with an unwieldy recession, the once exclusive produce and grocery market is seeing the benefit of discounting products in a universally budget conscious environment.
Flash Sales & Social Media Bring Discounts to Organic Food
As a result of the current economic climate, organic shoppers can now snag deals via the Whole Foods Twitter and Facebook accounts, which regularly post about sales. These social announcements include discounts on everything from Organic Valley 12-packs of milk to whole roasted chicken, as well as time-sensitive promotions, like a 5-hour buy one, get one free deal on ice cream. According to the WSJ, the brand is increasing its volume of one-day sales on items to a total of 17 this year, up from 14. But that's not all: the chain is also stocking up on "lower brow" items like frozen meatballs and vacuum-packed fish fillets. ( Continue… )
There is nothing quite like a good night's rest. Unfortunately this level of beauty sleep often comes with a price. Although Tempur-Pedic mattresses have a reputation for being among the priciest solutions to a good night's sleep, over 7 million people have made that choice and are resting easy, content with their memory foam beds. But before you consider this expense, here's the lowdown on Tempur-Pedic reviews, materials, prices, and user satisfaction.
Know Your Memory Foam Mattress
Unlike conventional innerspring mattresses, Tempur-Pedic mattresses are made of memory foam. This foam is derived from visco-elastic polyurethane that promises to provide support to sleepers' heads, shoulders, hips, knees, and feet while keeping spines in proper alignment. Resting in a comfortable position all night long promotes sound sleep, and ensures that people wake rested and without aches and pain.
However, it's hard to draw precise price comparisons between Tempur-Pedics and other mattresses on the market. For one, innerspring mattress vendors make different mattresses for different stores, so it's hard to choose just one to compare. Secondly, not all memory foam is the same. Some manufacturers measure mattresses by indentation load deflection units (ILD): the higher the number, the denser the foam. Tempur-Pedic products usually clock in at 14-15 ILD. The Signature Sleep Memoir 8" Memory Foam Mattress in Full ($199 with free shipping, a low by $100) has a 9 ILD.
Unfortunately, this density measurement isn't usually noted in advertising. Tempur-Pedic competitors such as the Novaform Serafina Gel Queen Memory Foam Mattress ($979.49 with free shipping, a low by $1) may not be dense enough to provide proper support, especially for the above-average sized American. However, more dense memory foam does not necessarily result in greater customer satisfaction: around 80% of memory foam bed users are satisfied with their product, whether sleeping on a high-end mattress like Tempur-Pedic or a cheaper knockoff. ( Continue… )