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Saving Money

A compact florescent light bulb at the home of Carol Hayward in South Orleans, Mass. High upfront costs for LEDs may be lessening as manufacturers come out with cheaper models. (Mary Knox Merrill/Staff/File)

Would you switch to LED light bulbs if they were half price?

By Emily DoviContributor / 03.09.13

Over the last decade in households across America, the compact florescent light bulb (CFL) has replaced many an incandescent bulb. And while consumers have had to make investments in such an energy-saving switch (of an average cost of $5 per bulb), most folks justify the upfront expense as Energy Star-qualified CFLs can save over $40 over their lifetimes in energy costs, and use about 75% less energy than cheap, traditional bulbs.

In addition to funny-shaped CFLs, LED bulbs too save on energy costs, though the public has been less keen on them, as price points for 40-watt bulbs begin around $20 a pop. But that may soon change as Cree, an LED chips and part maker, introduces a new line of low-cost LED light bulbs.

Already popular with owners of commercial and industrial buildings, Cree hopes that marketing its line of three new LED bulbs to consumers at affordable prices will spark a change in energy consumption behavior. The bulbs, to be sold at Home Depot, come in two output capacities — 40-watt and 60-watt — and are priced from $9.97 to $13.97. Even for the high-end 60-watt day light, that's a savings of at least $7 over other energy-efficient LED lights, which could additionally save energy-conscious consumers hundreds of dollars in electricity and cooling costs over a bulb's lifetime. Plus, all Cree's LED light bulbs come with a 10-year warranty.

And while there are other LED bulbs on the market that are priced to sell (Netherlands-based Lemnis Lighting sells a 200-lumen LED bulb for $5, as we've occasionally seen some notable discounts on more expensive options), there are few LED bulbs on the market with the same specs at as affordable consumer price points as Cree's.

We are all about investments in the environment and love long-term savings, and we're even more interested in saving money now. Cree's line of ultra cheap energy-efficient LED bulbs, while more expensive than incandescent and CFL lighting, fulfill all those requirements and just may be, as the company claimed in trademark, "the biggest thing since the light bulb." Will you make the switch to energy-efficient lighting? Is there enough long-term savings associated with switching to LED bulbs over CFL? 

A Safeway online shopping advertisement is shown at a Safeway store in San Francisco. For people who live in large cities, have a hard time getting to the grocery store, or already shop online frequently, online grocery shopping may be worth a try. (Paul Sakuma/AP/File)

Is online grocery shopping right for you?

By Naomi ManninoContributor / 03.09.13

There are some of us who love grocery shopping. Comparing products side-by-side according to ingredients; smelling, prodding, and tapping the produce; analyzing the meat fat patterns before making a selection, and so on. But if you're the type of shopper who gets easily aggravated by time spent rolling a cart down crowded aisles, waiting in checkout lines, loading up the car, and then lugging your haul inside, you may want to send your significant other to the store instead — or you could just try out online grocery shopping.

Wouldn't it be ideal to get groceries from your favorite local supermarket, without ever having to leave the comfort of the couch? An ever-growing number of grocers know the aforementioned pains for shoppers, and are thus offering ways for customers to order their groceries online, sometimes for delivery, other times for pickup. The move from overly-lit grocery store aisles to the digital realm is both a time-saver and a peaceful alternative to the hassles of the supermarket. But is online grocery shopping for you? Here's a checklist to help you find out; if any of these apply to you and your lifestyle, then the service might be worth a test drive.

You Live in a Large City

More and more supermarkets are experimenting with allowing customers to place their orders online. For example, Peapod — owned by Royal Ahold, a large chain of stores that includes Stop & Shop and Giant, among others — offers grocery delivery in major metro areas, mostly on the East Coast, and it will expand to additional locations in 2013. The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company offers online grocery shopping for many of its A&P stores (after emerging from bankruptcy earlier this year) in the Northeast tri-state area, while Safeway — the fifth largest American supermarket chain — offers grocery delivery in markets nationwide under its own brand as well as its owned stores: Vons, Randalls, and Tom Thumb. ( Continue… )

Playstation 3 game consoles are sold at Yamada Denki electronics shop in Tokyo. Following the introduction of the new PS4, PS3 consoles should see steep price drops in March. (Koji Sasahara/AP)

PS3, frozen foods and chocolate: the best and worst things to buy in March

By Lindsay Sakraida and Louis RamirezContributors / 03.02.13

March is here, and even though you may be planning to stay glued to the couch for all of March Madness, you'll also likely be doing a bit of spring shopping — especially if you're fond of online retailers like us! To help you save big, we've mined the extensive dealnews archives for sales, coupons, daily deals, and individual products from the past few years and to guide you in your quest to make the most savvy purchases this month.

Look for All-Time Low Prices on the PS3

Since Sony announced the long-awaited PlayStation 4 console just a week ago, it will soon be an excellent time to buy a PlayStation 3; in years past, prices on previous-generation consoles have dropped by 60% to 64% once the newer models were released. However, keep in mind that Sony didn't announce a concrete release date for the PS4, and many believe details about preordering and price won't come until E3 in June, which together means that PS3 deals might come in at a trickle rather than a flood. If they drop the full 64%, that would put the 160GB PS3 model at as low as $144. Right now PlayStation 3 250GB bundles are priced at least $50 under the lowest price we could find.

Treat Yourself with Chocolate

Did you not get the sweets you hoped for on Valentine's Day? Well luckily you can peruse high-end chocolate shops for any lingering V-day treats. As always after a holiday, themed sweets go on sale and any treats that haven't been gobbled up will see discounts of up to 50% off. Look to stores like Godiva and the gift section of department stores for decadent ways to treat yourself on a budget.

Skip the Lingerie

You may think that immediately after the most romantic day of the year, you'd see huge discounts on lingerie, but although we do indeed see some price cuts, it's not really the best time to buy underthings. Instead, around June is when Victoria's Secret unveils its famed Semi-Annual Sale, and last year around the same time, we also saw excellent markdowns from a plethora of other retailers like aerie by American Eagle, Frederick's of Hollywood, Macy's, Soma Intimates, and Figleaves. That said, summer deals also paled in comparison to the October to December stretch, which saw numerous Editors' Choice offers from many of these same vendors. ( Continue… )

Valerie Lashley-Murray has her taxes prepared by Susan Ormant (right) at H&R Block last month in Boston. Before having someone file your tax returns, you should check them out. (Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor/File)

Filing tax returns? Six money-saving tips.

By Susan LyonContributor / 03.02.13

The challenges of tax season are upon us, and if there’s one thing that novice and experienced taxpayers alike have to learn and relearn every year, it’s that lots of people want your money.  The federal government, state and local governments, certified public accountants (CPAs), and the tax preparer advertising on TV all want a piece of the pie.  By getting organized early and following these expert tips as April 15 approaches, you’ll avoid the rush and, in all likelihood, a lot of money.

 

Get ready

Financial institutions had until Jan. 31 to send out W-2s and 1099s in the mail, so you should have received the necessary forms by now. If you find that they are missing, contact your employer to find out why they haven't been mailed and make sure that they are being sent to the correct address.

  • Tax tip: Save money by filing sooner than your friends

In this first stage of tax season, take advantage of early bird deals that will disappear as the crunch date approaches.  If you’re feeling ambitious, you can cash in on free or heavily discounted deals as tax-prep companies hope to front-load some of the rush to make space for more customers come tax day. ( Continue… )

An iPhone 4S sits next to an iPhone 5 outside the Apple Store in Omaha, Neb. Comparing costs and savings of different carriers could save you big bucks on your phone contract. (Nati Harnik/AP/File)

Phone plans 101: breaking down the major carriers

By Simon HillContributor / 02.24.13

 Securing the best deal on a new cell phone plan is far from straightforward, and you're forgiven for getting the impression that carriers are deliberately making it complicated. Once you've decided what device you want, you still have to decide which carrier to sign up with, at which point you may wonder whether it makes sense to get a subsidized phone through a 2-year contract, or if the pay-as-you-go option is better for your needs. Then, of course, there's the question of coverage (some providers have better service in different areas), as well as the pricing tiers for a talk, text, and data plan.

Before you throw your hands up in defeat and re-up with the same carrier for another two years because it's easy, take some time to compare the costs and potential savings of all the carrier options. You just might find the best cell phone plan for you.

Unlocked vs. Subsidized

The first decision in deciding on a smartphone and carrier is likely to be dictated by your budget. While carriers offer the hottest new phones at enticing subsidized prices, they do so in order to encourage folks to sign up for a commitment that entails high penalty fees for early termination.

If you have the upfront cash available, then it will make more economic sense to buy a new unlocked phone for a few hundred dollars, rather than getting it more cheaply by locking yourself into a 2-year contract. That's because, over the life of that contract, most people end up paying more than they would by buying an unlocked phone at the outset and choosing a reasonable monthly prepaid or pay-as-you-go plan. ( Continue… )

A woman huddles under her coat as she makes her way through the cold in New York. Warmer temperatures are on the way, which means deep discounts on winter gear, including coats. (Keith Bedford/Reuters/File)

Five cozy winter coat deals

By Lou CarlozoContributor / 02.23.13

As winter continues to flex its muscle in many parts of the country, winter coat deals are heating up. So here we've rounded up an array of suitable outdoor wear including coats from The North Face, Tommy Hilfiger, and Sean John. Looking for more winter jackets on the cheap? Be sure to check out our daily clothing deals.

  1. Columbia Men's Gate Racer Soft-Shell Jacket
     Store: 6pm
     Price: $60 with free shipping
     Lowest By: $7

    Is It Worth It?: If it's 7 below out, then this is the jacket for you, as it's $7 below the lowest price we could find. Available in Collegiate Navy (pictured), Black, or Light Grey, and in sizes M to XXL, this Editors' Choice coat is made of 96% polyester and 4% elastane. It features a single zip pocket on the arm, adjustable hook-and-loop, front zip closure, and more.

  2. The North Face Men's Odyssey Triclimate 3-in-1 Jacket
     Store: Dick's Sporting Goods
     Price: $119.99 in-cart with free shipping
     Lowest By: $20

    Is It Worth It?: Even the thermometer can't plummet as fast as the price on this Editors' Choice jacket from The North Face. While this coat lists for $199.99, it drops to $119.99 the moment you add it to you cart. It features a removable, fully adjustable hood, Napoleon chest pocket, internal security pocket, pit zip venting, and more. This jacket is available in Blue (pictured), Red, or Black, and sizes S to XXL, although not in all size/color combinations.

  3. Tommy Hilfiger Women's Down Jacket
     Store: Overstock
     Price: $82.99 with free shipping
     Lowest By: $7

    Is It Worth It?: Tommy Hilfiger nails right combination of chic style and reasonable price, and this deal makes the price part even more attractive. This women's jacket is water-resistant, machine washable jacket and features a removable hood, down filling, 100% nylon shell, and more. It's available in Winter White (pictured), Black, or Hot Cocoa, and sizes XS to XL, although not in all size/color combinations.

  4. Sean John Men's Wool Jacket
     Store: Dr. Jays
     Price: $39.99 with $4.95 s&h
     Lowest By: $22

    Is It Worth It?: The next cheapest option on this comfy wool jacket will have you paying 50% more, so grab it while you can. Originally priced at $182.50, It features a full front zipper closure with additional button-down closure, and is made of 60% wool, 35% polyester, and more. This jacket is available in Grey and sizes M to XL.

  5. Backcountry Semi-Annual Sale

     Discount: Up to 76% off
     Shipping: From $7 or free shipping on orders over $50
     Expires: February 27

    Is It Worth It?: This sale is among the best we've seen from Backcountry in the past year; though the banner says up to 50% off, we did find greater discounts within. Included in our picks from the sale this week are The North Face Men's Varius Guide Jacket in five colors (Asphalt Grey pictured) for $99.48 and The North Face Women's Windwall 1 Fleece Jacket in Brown or Blue for $59.95. The Windfall 1 is windproof and recommended for active winterwear and layering and The Varius Guide Jacket has a waterproof rating of 25 PSI and is recommended for skiing, alpine climbing, and mountaineering.

This article first appeared in Dealnews.com

A salesman waits for customers at a mattress store in Boston. Mattress sales are a staple for Presidents' Day weekend, and this year is no exception. (John Nordell/Staff/FIle)

Presidents' Day sales: Look for new deals throughout the weekend

By Laura HellerContributor / 02.16.13

Ah, Presidents' Day. A national holiday commemorating George Washington's birthday, the first President of the United States. Federal and local governments get the day off, schools, post offices, and banks are closed, and we shop for mattresses and appliances.

That's right, on Monday, February 18, we honor our founding father by partaking in fantastic sales on everything from mattresses to dishwashers, TVs, and apparel.

Mattress Sales Have Already Begun

The origins of mattresses being particular to Presidents' Day are difficult to verify. No one really knows how it got started. "George Washington slept here" may be one inspiration for big mattress sales, but the best explanation is a simple one. "It takes two people to make the decision of buying a mattress," says Sarah DuBois, spokeswoman for Sleep Number. "Since many have President's Day off of work, it's a great opportunity for two people to shop together."

Nothing needs the approval of both parties more than a mattress purchase.

For President's Day, all beds are on sale at Sleep Number, including up to 50% off the Sleep Number iLE bed plus a free comforter and 18-month financing. Sears' Mattress Closeout Event offers 50% to 60% off mattresses, with free delivery and haul away on many mattresses. Macy's has $100 off some Tempur-Pedic mattresses and up to half off some closeout models, making it possible to nab a Sertapedic Queen Mattress Set for just $247 (a low by $228). Overstock has 10% off already discounted memory foam models.  ( Continue… )

Playstation 3 game machines are sold at a game console department at a Yamada Denki electronics shop in Tokyo in 2009. Sony is expected to release the PS4 this week, which should mean a huge price cut on the PS3. (Koji Sasahara/AP/File)

PS4 announcement would mean plummeting PS3 prices

By Louis RamirezContributor / 02.15.13

Sony is about to take console gaming into the future, and if industry experts are correct, that future will begin on February 20. That's when the Japanese giant will give the world its first glimpse at the PlayStation 4 at a press conference to be held in New York City.

Sony has remained tight-lipped about the event, but the Wall Street Journal claims that "people familiar with the matter" have confirmed the PS4's unveiling, making Sony the second player to enter the next-gen console arena in the past year, behind Nintendo (which unveiled its Wii U in November) and ahead of Microsoft, which has yet to leak any information about its Xbox 360 successor.

While the thought of a PS4 has us excited, as deal hunters, we also can't help but wonder what this means for the PlayStation 3, which will undoubtedly see a price drop after Sony's announcement. To find out how good the PlayStation 3 deals may get, we turned to previous console announcements to see how they affected the prices of their predecessors.

Nintendo Wii and PS2 Hit All-Time Lows During Successor's Debut

The PS3 was officially announced by Sony at E3 in May of 2005. Prior to its announcement, deals for the PlayStation 2 had been averaging $160. After the PS3's announcement, the PS2 dropped to an all-time low of $129, or 56% off its full retail price. At the time, that price was unheard of for the PS2. ( Continue… )

Customers are helped at an H & R Block office in April 2012 in Nashville, Tenn. Tuesday is the deadline for filing personal 2011 federal income taxes. (Mark Humphrey/AP/File)

Tax preparation: 4 ways to get it for free

By Brandon BallengerContributor / 02.10.13

Tax season is finally here – the IRS began accepting returns on Jan. 30. But before you rush to make an expensive appointment, check out cheaper options.

Estimates suggest Americans spend more than $100 billion a year on tax preparation. But according to the IRS,  70 percent of Americans are eligible for free professional tax preparation and filing software. If you wouldn’t pass up an easy deduction, why would you overpay to file?

There are different options depending on your age and income level – but practically everybody has some option cheaper than a tax pro…

2012 income below $51,000? Free in-person help

Check out the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, or VITA. They offer free preparation from trained volunteers, complete with information on tax credits you might qualify for. Most include free electronic filing as well. ( Continue… )

Doug Pongrazc checks out a large screen television while shopping at a Best Buy store in Elk Grove, Calif. February is consistently one of the best months to buy a new television. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP/File)

Best and worst things to buy in February

By Lindsay Saikraida and Louis RamirezContributors / 02.09.13

February may be our shortest month of the year, but it's certainly not lacking when it comes to savings. You might not score as big a discount as you would like on a Valentine's Day gift, but this month you'll find deals on several necessities like winter coats, home goods, and (obviously) big-screen HDTVs. We've rummaged through the dealnews archives of sales, coupons, and daily deals to find out what the best and worst things are to buy in February.

V-Day Deals Won't Shine, But Savings Will Be Sweet

Since many Valentine's Day gift categories are at their most in-demand during the first two weeks of February, the discounts on these items are generally pretty modest. However, that doesn't mean you should give up and pay full-price for things. At the very least, look for coupons at lingerie stores like Victoria's Secret (last year it took $15 off $100 orders) and value-driven jewelry sites like Netaya, ICE.com, Limoges Jewelry, and Ross-Simons. Even department stores are worth sorting through, if you can find a storewide shopping pass that applies to V-Day worthy goods. Expect discounts of 15% to 30% off before Valentine's Day, with sales that take up to 50% off or more after.

And if you don't have a date to shower with gifts, buck up: several restaurants and food chains like Waffle House and Krispy Kreme offered freebies last year to help you forget this fact. (That said, in 2012 Qdoba required that you kiss someone to get a free second entrée, so make sure you're prepared for that possibility this year.) ( Continue… )

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