Though we're technically still in the season of spring, June is off to a hot start in many parts of the country, and that means one thing for millions of sweltering people: air conditioning. And while we may take air conditioning for granted, it's generally an expensive luxury. Americans spend more than $22 billion a year on electricity to cool their homes with air conditioning — and use a whopping 183 billion kilowatt-hours, according to recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Energy. That accounts for at least 15% of all energy used in some homes, and in warmer climates can represent up to 70% of a summer electric bill.
If you're shopping for a new air conditioner, you'll notice quite a few different sizes and models. But one thing's for sure: Savings are always chill. Here's a quick primer to staying cool and keeping your wallet from overheating when picking out an A/C unit.
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What's a BTU and How Many Do I Need?
Chances are you already know that BTU stands for British Thermal Unit, and that the more BTUs an air conditioner cranks out, the stronger its cooling power. But here's the problem: Most American consumers aren't sure how to translate BTUs into the square footage of a room. (No disrespect to the Brits, but maybe we need an American Thermal Unit, where 1 AMU corresponds to 1 square foot.) ( Continue… )
So your decade-old HDTV is on the fritz and you're now forced to decide between making the jump to a 2013 model or purchasing an older, but cheaper, HDTV. We know it's a difficult decision to make, and with select HDTVs hitting all-time low prices, we can see why you'd want an "older" model.
But what if we told you that some 2013 models are already seeing solid discounts? And what if these TVs provided better picture quality than any of their predecessors? Maybe you'd consider the latest and greatest? Well, we took a long look at the first round of deals on 2013 TVs and found that the prices are lower than you might expect.
2013 HDTV Prices Have Dropped 40%
CES 2013 may be a hazy memory at this point, but many of the TVs announced in Las Vegas in January are currently stocked at your local big box retailer. And the good news is that many of these sets are already seeing steep discounts, ranging from a minimum of 3% off the manufacturer's price to a surprising 40% off. These promotions include new sets from name-brand companies like Panasonic, Samsung, and LG. (We've yet to see noteworthy deals on major 2013 models from Toshiba and Sharp.)
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What's especially surprising is that many of the discounts we're seeing are for premium or mainstream models. ( Continue… )
At age 9, Tom Corley saw his multimillionaire family go broke overnight after a fire destroyed the family business. He went on to head an accounting firm and write a book, “Rich Habits – The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals.” Recently, after his son graduated from college and set off on his own, Mr. Corley wrote him this e-mail (with formatting added):
Hi Son. I’ve been meaning to talk to you about saving and budgeting since you moved into your apartment. I wanted to give you some financial advice that I wish someone had given me at age 23:
1. Live below your means – Set aside 20% of every paycheck. Live within that 80%. Do this no matter how much money you make. Surviving on this 80% forces you to live below your means. This enables you to accumulate wealth. This is a Rich Habit. Most have the Poverty Habit of living beyond their means. This is why so many in America are in debt with credit cards, student loans, auto loans and mortgages that exceed the value of their homes.
2. If you get a raise or bonus, set aside 20% of that raise or bonus in addition to the 20% on your regular pay. Same principle as in #1. This ensures that you stick to your savings strategy no matter how much money you make. Not doing this may lull you into increasing your standard of living through the purchase of more expensive things like a bigger apartment, an expensive home, an expensive new car, a boat etc.
3. Max out your contributions to your company retirement plan. If the company matches your contributions, great. That’s free money. Not doing this is a Poverty Habit and means you are foregoing retirement savings and the free money from your employer.
4. Know what you spend every month. Create a monthly budget and track what you spend every day in that month. Not doing this means you really have no control over your expenses and could cause you to spend more than you make.
5. The power of compounding is your friend and will help you accumulate more wealth. If you invested just $250 a month for the next 40 years you would have $500,362 (using a 5% return on investment) when you hit age 64. The power of compounding turned $120,000 into nearly $500,000. $600 per month will turn in to $1,200,900. Of course your net pay is going to rise during your career. If you stick to Rule #1 and #2, your savings will increase with your earnings.
Son, every young person thinks if they work hard they’re going to hit it big and make a lot of money but the reality is very few ever do. The bulk of wealthy people are wealthy because they were taught how to manage money by their parents or they learned about money from some mentor in life. Those who learn these Rich Habits accumulate much more wealth than their peers. Most of the wealthy don’t make a lot of money but they do save a lot of money. Wealthy people know where their money goes. They budget their expenses. This gives them total control over how they spend their money. In order to be wealthy you have to accumulate wealth, not wait until you make a lot of money. Focus on accumulating wealth and if you get a big payday one day – great. It’s icing on the cake. If you stick to the 80% Rule above you will save a lot of money and you will be wealthy by age 45. You will be one of the few among your friends and colleagues because most parents don’t teach their kids the importance of saving, so nobody saves. Accumulating wealth is not about hitting it out of the park. It’s about getting singles. You get enough singles and you will win the game.
I love you
– Tom Corley is a certified public accountant, certified financial planner, and president of Cerefice and Company in Rahway, N.J. His financial self-help book is a byproduct of his five-year study of the daily activities of 233 wealthy people and 128 people living in poverty.
Normally after Apple releases a new version of one of its devices, we recommend that shoppers save money by skipping the latest model and instead look for deals on the previous generation; often the new upgrades are minor and "older" models are barely a year old.
But when it comes to the latest MacBook Air, we're actually recommending that shoppers instead consider the 2013 model; the updates on this generation offer a significantly better performance and, thus, a far better value than last year's model. And even though this means you'll be paying more, you can still score a small discount by shopping smartly.
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2013 MacBook Air Has Double the Storage Capacity
The previous generation 11" MacBook Air shipped with a standard 64GB SSD, which was considered paltry. This week, Apple gave the 11" MacBook Air one of the best upgrades it could receive: a faster and larger 128GB SSD. And because you can't manually upgrade the MacBook Air's hard drive, the new SSD alone makes the Haswell MacBook Air a much better value. (Last year, consumers had to pay $100 to double their storage capacity to 128GB on the base model.) Furthermore, Apple rates the new SSD 45% faster than last year's model, so you can expect to see a nice speed bump in overall system performance, too. ( Continue… )
Is it impossible to shop for your dad? You may have racked your brain and even consulted our Father's Day Gift Guide for the perfect gift to give the man who has everything, but to no avail.
However, all is not lost. If your dad doesn't need a new tool set or has enough ties to open up his own eBay store (and make a decent profit), give him a gift that will never go out of style: food. This Father's Day, several restaurants will be offering dads across the country all sorts of treats at no extra charge. Yes, that's right — your dear papa can reap the benefits of free food just for being the wonderful father that he is!
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Below, we've rounded up the best Father's Day food freebies. Unless noted, these offers are valid on June 16 only:
The Spaghetti Warehouse
Freebie: Mamma mia! Dads who dine at The Spaghetti Warehouse for lunch or dinner can enjoy a free Lasagne or Original Recipe Spaghetti via this printable coupon. Each meal also includes sourdough bread plus a choice of bottomless salad or soup. Buon appetito, padre! ( Continue… )
Ah, Costco! The Emporium of Everything, it's the one store that's got you covered from cradle (diapers) to grave (caskets). If you're a regular, you already know that this membership-only warehouse club isn't fazed by the most eclectic shopping list you can muster. But even Costco veterans might still not consider it a go-to locale for gasoline. The fact is that Costco — a chain now some 600 stores large — offers gasoline for about 6 to 12 cents a gallon below its local competitors' prices.
As such, Costco's gas sales have helped the company's bottom line, but how do Costco's gas prices stack up when you hold them under close scrutiny?
Cheap Gas Depends on Location
Much of the answer depends on where your Costco is located. In Chicago, the Lincoln Park Costco charges $4.49 per gallon for 1987 regular gas, according to GasBuddy. But that's no big bargain compared to many gas stations within a 45-minute drive of the place. Why is this?
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For starters, Chicago (which has among the highest gas prices in the nation) also has rather high gas taxes within the city limits. So once you cross the border, gas prices drop sharply — a fact of life that applies even as you compare Costco stores to each other. In Bolingbrook, IL, located about 40 minutes southwest of Chicago, the local Costco sells gas for $4.07 a gallon, 32 cents a gallon cheaper than a Bolingbrook-area Shell and BP, located just a stone's throw away. ( Continue… )
Air travelers looking to cut the weight of a checked or carry-on bag may find one offbeat solution helps: booking the right hotel room.
Consumers have more incentive these days to travel light. The 15 largest U.S. carriers collected a record $3.5 billion in bag fees during 2012, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. That's 3.8 percent more than in 2011.
And it's not just travelers checking more bags. Of 52 airline fee changes tracked byTravelNerd.com in the year ended in January, more than half involved bags.
"It's become absolutely imperative to pack light," said Anne McAlpin, a packing expert behind PackItUp.com, who has seen increasing interest from travelers looking to reduce their load to an 18-pound carry-on.
Laptop sales are in the dumps. Windows 8 was supposed to give them a jump-start, but Redmond's new operating system turned out to be worse than Vista. In fact, analysts are now blaming Windows 8 for the lull in sales, which in turn is giving tablet sales such an upper hand that they're expected to surpass notebook shipments later this year. Even the mighty Intel can't save the laptop industry.
While this all may sound like a nightmare scenario for retailers, it's a blessing for consumers: this summer you'll be able to score some extraordinary laptop deals at Black Friday-like prices. And with new back-to-school sales surfacing each week, laptop deals are bound to break records. So forget about the summer BBQ. Here's why now is the perfect time to shop for a new laptop.
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1. Windows 8 Didn't Live Up to the Hype
Despite all the fanfare, Windows 8 failed to live up to the hype. Yes, Microsoft sold over 100 million licenses of its shiny new OS, but Windows 8 didn't ignite sales. It also received an unprecedented amount of negative feedback, and it simply didn't sit well with consumers. Sales were so bad that Microsoft cut licensing costs for its partners. And while Microsoft's forthcoming OS update is expected to address many concerns, it's still unlikely that it will give laptop sales the extra boost they need. That means Microsoft, big-box retailers, and manufacturers are all on the mend, desperately trying to get consumers back in stores, preferably buying new systems. And what better way to lure customers than with low prices. ( Continue… )
Aloha, travel enthusiasts! A paradise-like vacation amidst waterfalls, active volcanoes, sandy beaches, and lush vegetation awaits in Hawaii. With these airfare, vacation packages, and cruise deals, you'll be one step closer to the wondrous beauty that distinguishes our nation's 50th state from the rest of the pack.
Make your way to the northern set of Polynesian islands with United Airlines roundtrip flights to Hawaii from select departure cities such as San Diego, Seattle, Las Vegas, and New York (from $455.50, a low by $7; expires June 30).
Or, take to the seas from the start by boarding a Celebrity Cruises 15-night Hawaii cruise for two (from $2,658, a low by $120; expires June 30) and witness the distinct islands from the Century's deck. You'll make pit stops in Hilo, Kailua (make sure to see Hawaii's most active volcano, Mount Kilauea), Lahaina, Honolulu, and Ensenada, Mexico. This mid-sized ship also provides plenty of perks on board including a variety of restaurants, access to the casino, and ample beverages at the Martini Bar — the first ice bar at sea.
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Looking for a more sprawling vessel to take you to Hawaii's finest islands? Book a room abord the 2,590 passenger Grand Princess and set sail on a Princess Cruises 15-night Hawaii cruise for two instead (from $3,198, a low by $116; expires June 30). This ship offers everything from movies under the stars, to private time at an adults-only sanctuary, plus live comedy acts. Coupled with half-day and day-long stops in chic Honolulu, blissful Nawiliwili, Kauai, Lahaina, Maui, and Hilo, you'll have ample time to explore the main sights before heading back to sea.
If exploring the hills, waterfalls, beaches, and volcanoes by land is more your style, we can recommend a number of airfare, hotel, and car rental packages instead. Wander Hawaii's third largest island of Oahu with exactly such a vacation package: this 3-night flight, hotel, and car rental package for two with a stay at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani will cost you less than $2,000 (from $1,889.85, a low by $408; expires June 30). Definitely take advantage of having some wheels and visit all of the island's hotspots: swimming in the warm waters of Waikiki; enjoying mountain views at Nuuanu Pali Lookout; ogling the brave surfers on the North Shore; and getting a taste of local flavors in Kapahulu. Perhaps most impressively, the hotel's status as former estate of Hawaii's last princess means you'll also have easy access to Waikiki Beach, views of Diamond Head, the Koolau Mountains, and Honolulu's city lights.
Speaking of Diamond Head, a 3-night flight, hotel, and car rental package for two at the Aston at the Waikiki Banyan (from $1,346, a low by $7; expires June 30) will put you in the center of it all. Plus, with rates starting at $735 per person, this property's 1-bedroom suites can accommodate up to five people, and are in close proximity to the beach, Kapiolani Park, and the Honolulu Zoo, which make it a great destination for families.
Often called the Magic Isle, Maui is home to a plethora of wildlife. Relish in your surroundings with a 3-night flight, hotel, and car rental package for two with a stay at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel (from $1,421, a low by $106; expires June 30). Situated on 11 acres that front the sands of famous Kaanapali Beach, the hotel is also surrounded by tropical gardens, and offers complimentary Hawaiian activities like ukulele, and hula lessons, lei-making, a cultural garden tour, nightly hula, and music shows at sunset. Explore the island by hiking through a forest of bamboo, taking a helicopter ride through pristine valleys, and waterfalls, and horseback riding near Kipahulu's Seven Sacred Pools or atop Haleakala, Maui's highest peak.
For a luxury getaway, book yourself and travel buddy a 3-night flight, hotel, and car rental package for two with a stay at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa (from $2,770, a low by $200; expires June 30). Also set on an expanse of Kaanapali Beach, the Sheraton is located at the foot of the legendary Pu'u Keka'a, Black Rock, and the newly renovated resort draws honeymooners, and families alike (kids stay free!) Take a dip in the freshwater swimming lagoon, sway to nightly Hawaiian entertainment, and view a traditional cliff-diving ceremony at sunset. While you're there, check some ocean activities off your list: snorkel among popular Maui reefs, sail on a Teralani catamaran, and kayak with the dolphins.
With these deals to Hawaii, you'll get just the right dose of island paradise without even leaving the country. But, if you've got different ideas for a vacation, be sure to check out our daily travel deals for other airfare, hotel, and vacation packages.
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Summar Ghias is a contributor to dealnews.com, where this article first appeared.
It's Friday, National Doughnut Day, and Starbucks only charges $1 for some drinks. Can it get any better than this? How about a big price low on a Haier soundbar and wireless subwoofer, one of the cheapest (and coolest) Bluetooth speakers we've seen, and more in today's list of five Editors' Choice deals that we found overnight and early this morning.
Top Coffee Deal
Grande Iced Coffee, Tea, or Starbucks Refreshers Beverage
Store: Starbucks retail locations
Do You Need It?: As if national doughnut day wasn't enough, Starbucks is running a promotion for an iced coffee, iced tea, or Refresher for just a dollar. Even though we saw other drinks for free last week, anyone who's ever ordered a grande anything at Starbucks knows that it's still a bargain.
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