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A man passes by the Samsung Electronics Co. logos at its headquarters in Seoul, South Korea. One model of the company's high definition television sets is available at a reduced price in Dealnews.com's latest roundup of discounts. (Ahn Young-joon/AP/File)

Discounted Samsung, Sharp HDTVs bundled with gift cards

By Louis RamirezGuest blogger / 04.09.14

Gift cards can sweeten any deal, and three of this week's top TV deals feature a $125 or higher eGift card. Included in that bunch is a 2014 65" Samsung complete with a quad-core processor and built-in WiFi. Budget shoppers can check out the 50" LG for $600 or the 24" Insignia at just $110.

Samsung 50" 1080p 120Hz LED-Backlit LCD HD Television bundled with a $350 Dell eGift Card
 Store: Dell Home
 Price: $997.99 with free shipping
 Lowest By: $237

Is It Worth It?: The Samsung UNF6300 offers solid picture quality with accurate overall color, says CNET. And despite lacking a touchpad remote and 3D capabilities, it's still "one of the company's better values." Add to that a very generous $350 Dell gift card and you've got this week's top Editors' Choice TV deal. The 50" TV offers 1080p resolution, a 120Hz refresh rate, built-in WiFi with Smart TV capabilities, and four HDMI inputs. ( Continue… )

Shopper pushes a cart outside Costco Wholesale in Danvers, Mass. Wholesale clubs are good at getting shoppers to spend more than they intended, but there are ways to curb your spending. (Elise Amendola/AP/File)

Seven ways warehouse clubs make you spend more money

By Aaron CroweGuest blogger / 04.08.14

Unless I leave my wallet at home, I can never make a trip to Costco without spending $100. It's simply not possible. I may go there with a shopping list and be determined to stick to it, but every time I leave with more goods than I expected to buy.

What pull does Costco have over my wallet, and how do wholesale warehouse clubs get shoppers to spend more than they've planned to? We uncovered a few factors that make up the allure of wholesale pricing. Make yourself aware of them, and maybe you'll avoid buying more than you need.

Membership Fees and Low Prices Add Up

People shop in bulk to save money, but low prices aren't the only way wholesale or warehouse stores entice shoppers to spend. Costco makes most of its money from annual membership fees, which help it maintain its low prices. Those low prices in turn make customers feel like they're getting a good deal upon just walking in the door; but lots of low prices add up and customers end up buying just a little bit more than they immediately need, says psychotherapist Judy Belmont. "It's unbelievable how low some of those prices are," Belmont says. "So people do end up spending a lot more."

Shop at Your Own Pace

It probably hasn't occurred to many shoppers that there's no music playing in the background at many wholesale clubs. "They want you in that store forever," behavioral and marketing psychologist Elliott Jaffa says. "There's no fast music to make you shop faster or slow music to encourage you to meander through the store." It's as if time becomes suspended in the endless aisles. ( Continue… )

A pint of frozen Greek yogurt from Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc. The Vermont-based company will give away ice cream during its annual Free Cone Day Tuesday, April 8, 2014. (Ben & Jerry's/Businesswire/File)

Ben & Jerry's celebrates 'Free Cone Day' with free scoops

By Donna DoyleGuest blogger / 04.08.14

If your morning is as slow-moving as you predicted it would be, cheer yourself up with the thought of ice cream. Free ice cream. Today is our favorite holiday of the year, Ben & Jerry's Free Cone Day! This "greatest-ever deal," as well as all-time lows on Wrangler jeans and PC components, are in today's list of five Editors' Choice deals that we found overnight and early this morning.

Top Freebie Deal

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Cone
Store: (Participating Ben & Jerry's locations
Price: Free
Offer valid: From 12 pm to 8pm ET on April 8
Do You Need It?: It's hard to justify splashing out on little luxuries this early in the week, but you never need fear. The most handsome and loyal of other halves, Ben & Jerry's, is offering a free ice cream cone to all you lovely people to make your Tuesday a little bit sweeter. Plus, absolutely no purchase is necessary. To find a store near you, click here. (Make sure to select the "Participate in free cone day" box.) ( Continue… )

Job seekers sign in before meeting prospective employers during a career fair at a hotel in Dallas in January. If your current job isn't aligned with your long-term career goals, it may be time to move on. (LM Otero/AP/File)

Five signs it's time to quit your job

By Kevin VoigtGuest blogger / 04.07.14

Feeling like Sisyphus, the character  in Greek mythology damned to roll the same rock up a hill for all eternity — but for you that rock is your job? Maybe it’s time to put it down.

More Americans are leaving their jobs than since the credit crisis ground the economy to a halt in 2008.

After holding onto their employer by their fingertips after waves of layoffs, more employees feel confident to let go and look for work elsewhere.

Here are NerdWallet’s top 5 signs that its time to look for that new job.

You Are Bored. If the thrill is gone, it’s time to look for new thrills. Hard-working executives toil their way to the top, but get there and think, “Is this all there is?,” Dr. Steven Berglas once told me. Dr. Berglas is an executive coach and management consultant who spent 25 years on the faculty of Harvard Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry. “You have money, power and prestige . . . you look like you’re on top of the world, but you feel like you’re marking time.”

Your Job is Mismatched with Your Goals. Where do you professionally and personally want to be in five years? Will your current position get you there? “If not, it’s time review your career path,” writes Lindsay Broder, The Occupreneur Coach. “Perhaps you can seek out a new position within your current organization that better aligns with your long-term prospects. Consider searching your firm’s jobs board or having a conversation with your boss or human resources manager about other positions.” If you can’t find what you want there, move elsewhere.

Your Friends/Family are Telling You to Leave.  Sometimes, you need the feedback of others to point out the obvious. “It’s the topic that keeps them up at night thinking, what should I do?” Teri Hockett, chief executive of career site What’s For Work?, tells Forbes. “They consult with friends and family, seeking advice, to validate their reasoning. They know the answer, which always involves change, but the difficult part is making the change itself.”

Your Company is Telling You to Leave. Nobody likes to quit, but your boss or firm may be doing you a long-term favor by dropping hints the two of you should break up. “If you’re suddenly getting a slew of critical feedback in emails or memos, it’s a sign your job could be in jeopardy,” writes Alison Green, co-author of “Managing to Change the World.”

If you’re on a formal Performance Improvement Plan, that’s a big clue it’s time to move on. “In theory, if you meet the terms of the plan, you’ll preserve your job and be able to move forward,” Green says. “But in practice, by the time you’re on one, it’s often because things aren’t working out and aren’t likely to.

You Aren’t Making Enough Cash. Classic sign it’s time to go – that your skills can make more money elsewhere. But there are factors that need to be considered: How much is the cost of the move, and is it tax deductible? Use the NerdWallet cost of living calculator to compare the cost of living in two cities. And check out NerdWallet’s Best Cities for Job Seekers to know where your best options lie.

A Delta Airlines Boeing 757 taking off in Tampa, Fla. The Supreme Court ruled last week that airlines can suspend frequent flyer benefits for obnoxious passengers. (Chris O'Meara/AP/File)

Airlines can boot whiny frequent flyers, Supreme Court rules

By Elizabeth HarperGuest blogger / 04.07.14

Frequent flyers, watch out, because the airlines offering these benefits now have the Supreme Court's permission to drop you from their loyalty programs at will. With passengers already frustrated by high fees on everything from snacks to baggage, and dwindling carrier options, do consumers have any power left when flying?

Frequent Flyers at the Supreme Court

The ruling comes from a case between Rabbi Binyomin Ginsberg and Northwest Airlines, which kicked Ginsberg from their WorldPerks program after frequent complaints. The airline accused Ginsberg, who took up to 75 flights a year and accumulated hundreds of thousands of frequent flyer miles, of booking reservations on full flights with the intention of being bumped from the flight in exchange for compensation.

Though Ginsberg filed 24 complaints over the course of eight months, he claims that the airline ditched him in order to cut costs. The resulting case made it all the way to the Supreme Court. The Court found that Ginsburg could not sue for breach of contract according to state law, because a federal law explicitly prevents state-level regulation of airlines.

While other remedies may be available, for now, the final ruling effectively says that airlines can drop individuals from their frequent flyer programs at their sole discretion — and that flyers who don't like a particular airline's policy can always do business with a competing airline. ( Continue… )

Scott Richards of Saint Anselm College looks over possible jobs during a career fair for college students in Manchester, N.H in 2012. The Federal Reserve of New York reported that student debt levels rose to $1.08 trillion in the fourth quarter of last year, an increase of $114 billion over 2012. (Jim Cole/AP/File)

Building a career despite the pressure of student debt

By Heather Yamada-HosleyGuest blogger / 04.05.14

NerdWallet’s How Do You Do Money? series asks people from various walks of life to share their attitudes and approach to personal finance, with the goal of bringing transparency to discussions surrounding money. In this installment we speak with Evan DeSimone, a 27-year-old marketing analytics manager living in New Jersey. This is how he does money.

What do you do for your main source of income and how did you get into that line of work?

I’m a marketing analytics manager for a local bank. I fell into this career almost completely by accident. Out of college I worked in customer service to put a little cash in my very empty pockets. I planned to stay for a year or less but some family issues forced me to remain in the area longer than I had intended. I wanted to show movement so I took an opportunity with the operations team and moved into the back-office side of banking. After about two years I was offered a place on the new marketing team. I also do some freelance writing and copy editing as a secondary income source. ( Continue… )

An Amazon Fire TV set is seen on a couch after a news conference in New York, April 2, 2014. Amazon.com Inc unveiled a $99 video streaming device called Fire TV that the e-commerce company promised would be more powerful and easier to use than rival services by Apple Inc, Google Inc and Roku. (Eduardo Munoz/AP)

Amazon Fire TV: How does it stack up against Apple TV and Roku?

By Louis RamirezGuest blogger / 04.04.14

Move over Apple and Roku, Amazon is heating up the battle for your living room with its new set-top box streamer, Fire TV. Unveiled in New York on Wednesday afternoon, the new Fire TV boasts a quad-core processor with dedicated graphics, 2GB of RAM, and built-in voice controls.

But are these specs important to users who just want to stream Netflix on the cheap? Amazon hopes so, although its $99 price tag isn't doing much to win consumers over, since the Apple TV and Roku 3 all cost the same. Here's how the company's much-anticipated streamer stacks up against the competition.

Fast Hardware, Not So Low Price

While the average consumer probably doesn't think twice about the hardware that sits inside their streaming box, Amazon is hoping they do; the retailer is touting the Fire TV's quad-core processor as a major selling point. Coupled with the fast CPU, the Fire TV also houses 2GB of RAM, which is a significant jump from the 512MB found in Apple TV and the Roku 3. As the newest kid on the block, Amazon has the advantage with regards to hardware since Apple TV and Roku were last refreshed in January 2013 and March 2013, respectively. ( Continue… )

Noah Meloccaro, right, compares his older iPhone 4s to the new iPhone 5 held by Both Gatwech, outside the Apple Store in Omaha, Neb. Apple resellers, like Walmart, Best Buy, and Amazon, have been upping the stakes with more frequent deals and deeper discounts. (Nati Harnik/AP/File)

Apple discounts are more frequent, bigger than ever before

By Louis RamirezGuest blogger / 04.03.14

Shopping exclusively at the Apple Store benefits one person — the Apple shareholder. The brand holds but one sale a year (on Black Friday), and the discounts are meager at best. Conversely, authorized Apple resellers, like WalmartBest Buy, and Amazon, have been discounting Apple devices for years. And recently, we've noticed that they've been upping the stakes with more frequent deals and deeper discounts.

In the past, a shopper had to opt for older-generation versions of Apple products in order to get a deal. But resellers are now not only discounting brand-new models, they're doing it with abandon. We took a look at the deal history of several generations of the MacBook Air, iPad, and iPhone, and across the board, the deals have gotten better with each update. It would seem that retailers have declared hunting season on Apple.

But just how much can you save? We've meticulously examined the past seven years of Apple deals on DealNews, tracking deals for each model while it was Apple's most current flagship device (meaning we didn't include deals on previous-generation models). From the iPad mini to the iPhone 5s, here's how you can save substantial cash on your next Apple purchase.

iPhone Deals Are Now a Regular Occurrence

Whereas the first few generations of the iPhone were exempt from any sort of discounting, our data shows that recent models have seen increasingly quicker discounts. As far as a brand new $199 iPhone goes, 50% off is likely the best a consumer can do before the next generation is announced. The iPhone is hitting that mark much faster, and with startling consistency. ( Continue… )

A German Spitz dog poses on a sofa after a beauty treatment for dogs at Pet Salon in Sao Paulo, Brazil in March. Even without luxury spa treatments, pet care is a major expense, and one that is rarely factored into retirement planning. (Nacho Doce/Reuters/File)

Retirement planning? Don't forget your pets.

By Richard M. RossoGuest blogger / 04.03.14

“Cat (Mona) goes to vet for teeth cleaning – $350 – smiles now like a feline movie star.”

With the kids grown and out of the house (hopefully), pets have become an important family addition for baby boomers in retirement.

When it comes to retirement planning, the topic of pet expense planning is rarely discussed. It shouldn’t be ignored.

Pets are big business.  According to www.americanpetproducts.org, it’s estimated that pet owners in the U.S. spent $55.53 billion on their beloved cats, dogs and other animals in 2013, an annual increase of 4.1% since 2003.

I’ve been helping retirees and pre-retirees prepare and maintain budgets for over 20 years. According to my own estimates, pet “parenting” now consumes a greater bite (no pun intended) of the overall budget in retirement. ( Continue… )

This photo taken March 22, 2013, shows the exterior of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building in Washington. Despite the difficulty posed by completing tax returns correctly, making mistakes will likely mean your filing will get greater scrutiny from the IRS. (Susan Walsh/AP/File)

Mistakes to avoid during tax season

By Kevin VoigtGuest blogger / 04.02.14

As April 15 looms, people are kissing their tax-deductible offspring or digging through desk drawers to find receipts from the prior year. The specter that hangs over this annual race to file your 1040 is the threat that the IRS will look askance at your tax claims.

The good news: Last year the IRS audited 1.4 million people, which represented about 1% of total individual tax payers.

The better news if you’re wealthy: The IRS audited just over 24% of Americans with gross adjusted income of $10 million or more, down from 30% in 2011. The bad news if you’re broke: The IRS nearly tripled the number of audits for people reporting no income last year, compared with 2011.

Here are the red flags that experts — and the IRS itself – says puts you at audit risk: ( Continue… )

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