cell phones http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/1625/all en-US Best Money Tips: The Technology Edition http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-the-technology-edition <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-the-technology-edition" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/office-technology-144110290-small.jpg" alt="office technology" title="office technology" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's Best Money Tips Roundup! Today we are featuring some of the best articles from around the web about technology, ranging from apps to smartphones to green tech and more!</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.moneytalksnews.com/2014/05/05/save-thousands-by-cutting-dying-tech-from-your-life/">Save Thousands by Cutting Dying Tech from Your Life</a> &mdash; Cutting your landline and ditching cable can help you save thousands. [Money Talks News]</p> <p><a href="http://www.learnvest.com/2010/10/from-mobile-apps-to-online-storage-10-techy-ways-to-save-money/">From Mobile Apps To Online Storage: 10 Techy Ways to Save Money</a> &mdash; Using TextFree can save you money on text messages while Skype can save you money on VoIP. [Learnvest]</p> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Online-Organization-Tools-11281762">12 Online Tools to Organize Your Life This Month</a> &mdash; Remember the Milk and Hootsuite can help you keep your life organized. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://www.yourenergyblog.com/3-devices-to-make-your-home-more-energy-efficient/">3 Devices to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient</a> &mdash; If you want to make your home more energy efficient, consider adding or upgrading to a tankless water heater. [Your Energy Blog]</p> <p><a href="http://livingonthecheap.com/5-surprising-ways-smart-phone-can-save-money/">5 Surprising Ways Your Smartphone Can Save You Money</a> &mdash; Have you ever used your smartphone to help you pay your bills on time? [Living on the Cheap]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.kiplinger.com/slideshow/business/T059-S001-5-ways-technology-will-change-the-way-you-travel/">5 Ways Technology Will Change the Way You Travel</a> &mdash; Cars with wi-fi are now an option in certain brands of certain GMC, Cadillac, and Buick models. [Kiplinger]</p> <p><a href="http://www.creditsesame.com/blog/15-helpful-apps-single-lady-without/">15 Helpful Apps No Single Lady Should Be Without</a> &mdash; AroundMe and Lumosity are a couple great apps every single lady should have. [Credit Sesame]</p> <p><a href="http://www.fatwallet.com/blog/10-technologies-invented-less-than-10-years-ago-we-cant-imagine-going-without/">10 Technologies Invented Less Than 10 Years Ago We Can't Imagine Going Without</a> &mdash; Can you imagine living without podcasts or Kindles? [FatWallet.com]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/top-10-tech-safety-tips-for-parents-of-tweens-and-teens">Top 10 Tech Safety Tips for Parents of Tweens and Teens</a> &mdash; To keep your kids safe around technology, be aware of ALL the technology they are using. [Parenting Squad]</p> <p><a href="http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/done5-tips-mobile-coupons.html">5 Tips for Using Mobile Coupons</a> &mdash; When using mobile coupons, use an app that can apply multiple coupons at once. [Bargaineering]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-the-technology-edition">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-apps-for-the-tech-challenged-traveler">7 Apps for the Tech-Challenged Traveler</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-save-on-smartphone-costs-while-traveling">8 Ways to Save on Smartphone Costs While Traveling</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-waterproof-laptop-cases">The 5 Best Waterproof Laptop Cases</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-computer-last-almost-forever-with-some-simple-tricks">Make Your Computer Last (Almost) Forever With Some Simple Tricks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-buy-a-laptop-computer">How to Buy a Laptop Computer</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Technology apps best money tips cell phones computers laptops technology Mon, 21 Jul 2014 19:00:07 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1147199 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Powerful Smartphones That Aren't Overpriced http://www.wisebread.com/4-powerful-smartphones-that-arent-overpriced <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-powerful-smartphones-that-arent-overpriced" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/phone-483766677.jpg" alt="woman with phone" title="woman with phone" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Smartphones have just about become a necessity in our daily lives. With the big manufacturers releasing a better, faster, more powerful handset nearly every year, consumers shell out a fortune to keep up with the Joneses. The marketing strategists behind tech giants like Apple and Samsung invest heavily to ensure their latest devices are ogled for their sexy design and performance prowess. But in an age where innovation is king, handsets rarely retain their initial appeal. There is good news, however. You don't have to commit to a soul-crushing contract or pay a fortune to enjoy a fantastic mobile experience. Here are five affordable alternatives to those pricey smartphones. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-smartphones?ref=seealso">5 Great Smartphones</a>)</p> <h2>1. Nokia Lumia 520</h2> <p>The fact that the <a href="http://www.nokia.com/us-en/phones/phone/lumia520/">Lumia 520</a> is the <a href="http://news.softpedia.com/news/The-Best-Selling-Windows-Device-in-the-World-Is-a-Phone-386951.shtml">best selling Windows device</a> in the world right now should be reason enough for its mention on this list. At only $100 and unlocked, the Lumia 520 saves consumers from the nightmarish hellscape of carrier contracts.</p> <p>The sturdy build is comfortable to hold and the colorful Windows 8 OS makes it pretty to look at. The hardware may seem lacking, but it performs beautifully and provides a smooth and enjoyable experience. Nokia apps like Drive and Music are highlights, offering data-free navigation and Pandora-esque music discovery. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/new-ways-to-listen-to-music-for-free-or-cheap?ref=seealso">New Ways to Listen to Music for Free</a>)</p> <p>The one caveat is that the Windows ecosystem is not as robust as iOS or Android, resulting in considerably fewer available apps. A fantastic value, the Lumia 520 deserves your consideration and, with its <a href="http://www.brighthand.com/default.asp?newsID=20530&amp;News=Nokia+Lumia+525+Windows+Phone">big brother</a> on the way, the Lumia series is likely to find even more converts.</p> <h2>2. Motorola Moto G</h2> <p>A sub-$200 phone running Android 4.4 KitKat? The correct answer is a resounding &quot;Yes, please!&quot; After Motorola was acquired by Google there was little question of quality, but at what cost? Apparently very little. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-google-wallet-can-save-you-money?ref=seealso">How to Save Money With Google Wallet</a>)</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.motorola.com/us/consumers/moto-g/Moto-G/moto-g-pdp.html">Moto G</a> features a quad-core Snapdragon processor and the closest thing to stock Android you'll see outside of the Nexus. This means that there is no bloatware or awkward user-interface hogging space or slowing performance.</p> <p>Despite the low internal storage and 5MP camera there is a lot to love about the Moto G, in particular Google Now. &nbsp;(See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-best-productivity-apps-for-really-busy-people-like-you?ref=seealso">The Best Productivity Apps for Busy People</a>)</p> <h2>3. ZTE Blade V</h2> <p>Chinese manufacturer ZTE has struggled to make a name for itself, probably because its previous offerings in the western market have been downright atrocious. However, ZTE is slowly turning the tide with their promise of attractive, budget-minded handsets that don't sacrifice performance. With some respectable hardware, <a href="http://www.ztedevices.co.uk/blade-v-android-smartphone.html">ZTE's Blade V</a> is a phone that that deserves a look.</p> <p>As a budget smartphone, the Blade V does suffer from subpar screen resolution, low internal storage, and a near-useless camera. However, its saving grace is the 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, which makes the Blade V surprisingly breezy and responsive for a handset well under $200. Heavy users might notice a bit of lag, but most won't have any problem navigating the Android 4.1 OS. This phone, like many of the budget smartphones, has limited availability in North America. Similar ZTE models to consider are the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00D1VNENK/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00D1VNENK&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">ZTE v956</a> and the slightly pricier <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CQ24416/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00CQ24416&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">ZTE v967</a>.</p> <h2>4. Google Nexus 5</h2> <p>Priced around $350, some would say that the flagship Google handset is far removed from the budget-minded crowd. While certainly more expensive than the other phones on this list, the <a href="https://www.google.com/nexus/5/">Nexus 5</a> is a steal when compared to devices from Samsung and Apple. Off contract prices for the iPhone 5s start at $649.99, whereas the Samsung Galaxy S5 can be found for $825 and up.</p> <p>The Nexus 5 delivers everything that Google promised from Android and then some. With a fantastic screen and seriously powerful hardware, you'll be hard pressed to find another handset delivering a comparable experience at such a low price. With the <a href="http://www.ibtimes.co.in/articles/546323/20140402/nexus-6-release-date-upgrades-5.htm">Nexus 6 rumored</a> to be unveiled soon, you can expect to snag this phone at an even steeper discount.</p> <h2>5. Various Overseas Manufacturers</h2> <p>There are a number of smaller tech firms and startups that have been making waves in the smartphone market. Some of the most exciting manufacturers are based in China and their handsets are not only <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2014/03/19/oppo-find-7-50mp-camera/">feature rich</a> but technically impressive at <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2014/03/13/xiaomi-redmi-2-octa-core-leak/">incredible price points</a>. However, when buying a phone from overseas there are a <a href="http://www.gizchina.com/2013/12/17/10-tips-buying-chinese-android-phone-china/">number of things to consider</a>, so make sure you do your homework.</p> <p><em>Do you know of any bargain basement smartphone deals? Are there any dirt cheap handsets that should be on our budget radar? Let us know in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ryan-lynch">Ryan Lynch</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-powerful-smartphones-that-arent-overpriced">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buying-a-new-smartphone-without-extending-your-contract">Buying a New Smartphone Without Extending Your Contract</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-best-couponing-apps">The 10 Best Couponing Apps</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cheap-smartphones-which-ones-are-worth-it">Cheap Smartphones: Which Ones Are Worth It?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-google-wallet-can-save-you-money">5 Ways Google Wallet Can Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-smartphones">The 5 Best Smartphones</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping affordable phones cell phones smartphones Mon, 14 Apr 2014 08:24:20 +0000 Ryan Lynch 1135283 at http://www.wisebread.com 3 Surprising Ways to Save on Wireless Bills http://www.wisebread.com/3-surprising-ways-to-save-on-wireless-bills <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/3-surprising-ways-to-save-on-wireless-bills" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/phone-5219826-small.jpg" alt="woman using phone" title="woman using phone" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you&#39;ve found yourself gasping for air after opening your wireless cell phone bill lately, take a deep breath &mdash; there may be discounts you aren&#39;t taking advantage of. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/part-time-jobs-that-can-get-you-serious-discounts">Part-Time Jobs With Serious Discounts</a>)</p> <h2>1. Join Your Employer Discount Program</h2> <p>Take advantage of employer discount programs simply by contacting your wireless carrier&#39;s website (or visit their store) and submitting your work address to find out if you are eligible to receive offers and discounts. Once the email address is validated, and you qualify for the discount, you&#39;ll start saving on access charges, and in some cases, receive discounts on accessories too.</p> <p>If you are self-employed, or your current employer doesn&#39;t qualify, you can always piggyback onto a spouse&#39;s plan. And the same discounts are available to students. If you attend a university, simply submit your student email address to your provider for validation. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/big-list-of-student-discounts">List of Student Discounts</a>)</p> <p>Check discount programs for <a href="http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/support/employee-discount-email">Verizon</a>, <a href="https://www.wireless.att.com/business/authenticate/">AT&amp;T</a>, <a href="http://mysprint.sprint.com/verify/?ECID=vanity:verify">Sprint</a>, and <a href="http://support.t-mobile.com/docs/DOC-4791">T-Mobile</a>.</p> <h2>2. Make Wi-Fi Calls</h2> <p>Keep track of, and cut data usage with free apps. Jon Lal of <a href="http://www.befrugal.com/">BeFrugal</a> recommends the iTunes<a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wi-fi-finder/id300708497?mt=8"> Wi-Fi Finder</a> app to locate nearby Wi-Fi hotspots, and use a Wi-Fi connection to browse online instead of your data plan whenever possible. (For Android, consider <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.jiwire.android.finder&amp;hl=en">WiFi Finder</a>.) &quot;This will help you get by on a much smaller data plan that costs less.&quot; Andrea Eldridge, CEO and co-founder of <a href="http://www.callnerds.com/">Nerds on Call</a> agrees. &quot;If you&#39;re not hooked up to WiFi, those minutes can add up fast. Try to make sure you&#39;re always connected to WiFi, and turn off apps that switch to the phone network when WiFi is unavailable.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-free-or-cheap-internet-access">How to Get Free or Cheap Internet Access</a>)</p> <h2>3. Get a &quot;Family&quot; Plan</h2> <p>Two lines (or more) are cheaper with family plans; wireless providers charge more, per person, for individual plans. This works even if your family members aren&#39;t living under one roof &mdash; or aren&#39;t related at all. As long as one person takes responsibility for the account, a group of friends can start a family plan, too.</p> <h2>The Last Word</h2> <p>Even if you don&#39;t take advantage of one of these money-saving techniques, check in from time to time with your current provider to inquire about unadvertised packages that may be a better fit for you based on your usage plan. And be sure to sign up for free alerts from your provider, just to be on the safe side, so that you are aware when you are reaching your data limit and don&#39;t have any overages.</p> <p><em>How do you save on your cell phone plan?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linda-condrillo">Linda Condrillo</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-surprising-ways-to-save-on-wireless-bills">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/refactor-your-budget-categories">Refactor Your Budget Categories</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-easy-ways-to-lower-your-electric-bill">15 Easy Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kick-that-cell-phone-contract-save-with-a-prepaid-plan">Kick that Cell Phone Contract: Save with a Prepaid Plan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/looking-at-your-expenses-with-new-eyes">Looking at Your Expenses with New Eyes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-the-95-best-ways-to-get-fit-for-free">Flashback Friday: The 95 Best Ways to Get Fit for Free</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting cell phones data plan phone savings utilities Mon, 21 Oct 2013 10:00:03 +0000 Linda Condrillo 1034767 at http://www.wisebread.com Why Is the Cell Phone Industry So Screwed Up? http://www.wisebread.com/why-is-the-cell-phone-industry-so-screwed-up <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-is-the-cell-phone-industry-so-screwed-up" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4506307928_42db84ab2e_z.jpg" alt="cell phone" title="cell phone" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Cell phone bills are on the rise. Again. Oh, you broke your phone and didn&rsquo;t have insurance on it? That&rsquo;ll be $500+ to replace it. Or you can terminate your contract early. For $175.</p> <p>What&rsquo;s wrong with the cell phone industry? Why does it seem that customers are getting the raw end of the deal and nobody is stepping forward to fix it? Why, exactly, is the cell phone industry so screwed up? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-like-my-flip-phone-the-5-smartphone-effects">Why I Like My Flip Phone</a>)</p> <h2>Fierce Competition?</h2> <p>The Atlantic shows us <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/08/the-state-of-play-in-the-mobile-industry-in-one-venn-diagram/261712/" target="_blank">how profit is shared</a> in the cell phone industry, and why. Apple, of course, enjoys the major share of the profits on the handset side of the business (the company made media headlines in July 2011 for having more available cash than the United States federal government), while other developers are racing to keep up with our smartphone obsession.</p> <p>As for network providers themselves, there is a little more competition, with Verizon and AT&amp;T at the top and T-Mobile, Sprint, and various prepaid providers on the lower rungs of the ladder. Once AT&amp;T lost its exclusive iPhone offering rights, Verizon made some significant gains, but the power struggle between network providers continues.</p> <h2>Patent Wars?</h2> <p>The Huffington Post has an entire section of their website dedicated to the legal battles between <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/apple-samsung-lawsuit" target="_blank">Apple and Samsung</a>, the world's top two smartphone designers and manufacturers.</p> <p>In August 2012, Apple sued Samsung for $2.5 billion over intellectual property right infringements. The verdict? $1 billion to Apple. And it hasn&rsquo;t stopped there. Samsung countersued and lost, and now <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christina-gagnier/patent-litigation_b_2421877.html" target="_blank">patent litigation</a> is upping the stakes in the cell phone industry.</p> <p>Innovation seems to be at war with healthy competition; if Apple controls numerous patents in regards to smartphone technologies, how can the others possibly compete without the threat of lawsuits? Some may argue that Samsung has superior technology and platforms via Google&rsquo;s Android, but with one victory under its belt, lawsuits involving Apple or other cell phone companies are likely to get more frequent and messier from here on out.</p> <h2>Dwindling Profit Margin?</h2> <p>The demand for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-save-money-on-ipads-iphones-and-macs">Apple products</a> never seems to fade, but more and more people are jumping on the alternate smartphone bandwagon these days. While Apple is far from financially insecure, this spike in competition in recent years has forced the company to find ways to keep costs from spiraling beyond what the market deems acceptable (brand name can only get them so far, especially when you could easily buy another smartphone for half the cost of an iPhone).</p> <p>Partnering with Sprint and Verizon (in addition to AT&amp;T) helped Apple retain its dominance in the realm of cell phone sales (as much as 73% of the market share belongs to Apple), but in a time where disposable incomes are limited and cell phone bills are on the rise, the Apple frenzy has quieted considerably since the development of the first few iPhones.</p> <p>As for network providers, gone are the days of relying on massive profits from the price-per-text model, as unlimited calling and texting plans are on the rise (despite their ever-increasing cost to the consumer). The industry experimented with unlimited data plans but ultimately found it unsuccessful and phased it out of their menu of services. Apps are also eliminating once-valuable sources of income for these companies, with free calling options from apps like Skype<em> </em>and free texting from a variety of apps like WeChat and What&rsquo;sApp motivating customers to opt out of pricier calling and texting plans that offer more minutes and more texts.</p> <p>The solution? Charge consumers more for data and make it harder for them to switch carriers.</p> <h2>Final Word</h2> <p>Fierce competition over pricing structures and patents are complicating matters in the industry, and dwindling profit margins are prompting companies to increase prices for phones and cell service to maintain the same level of growth they experienced the previous decade. Who pays for all this? Consumers do.</p> <p><em>What are you doing to defend your wallet form the mobile phone industry's aggressive pricing and marketing?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kelly-kehoe">Kelly Kehoe</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-is-the-cell-phone-industry-so-screwed-up">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buying-a-new-smartphone-without-extending-your-contract">Buying a New Smartphone Without Extending Your Contract</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-free-debt-management-tools">6 Free Debt Management Tools</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/no-signal-5-quick-ways-to-boost-your-cell-phone-reception-updated">No Signal? 6 Ways to Boost Your Cell Phone Reception</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-ssn-can-now-be-accurately-guessed-using-date-and-place-of-birth">Your SSN Can Now Be Accurately Guessed Using Date and Place of Birth</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-getting-charged-by-a-text-message-scam">Are You Getting Charged by a Text Message Scam?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Technology cell phone plan cell phones smartphones Fri, 01 Mar 2013 10:48:57 +0000 Kelly Kehoe 967945 at http://www.wisebread.com Seriously, Get Rid of Your Landline http://www.wisebread.com/seriously-get-rid-of-your-landline <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/seriously-get-rid-of-your-landline" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/1034889957_34686d8940_z.jpg" alt="telephone" title="telephone" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Do you still have a telephone that plugs into the wall of your house? As of June 2012, 34% of households in the U.S. have gone wireless only, according to the <a href="http://www.marketingcharts.com/direct/landline-phone-penetration-dwindles-as-cell-only-households-grow-22577/" target="_blank">U.S. National Health Information Study</a>. That percentage will only go up in the coming years &mdash; over 59% of 25- to 29-year-olds live in homes without landlines.</p> <p>From a financial perspective, it&rsquo;s hard to justify setting up a new landline if you already <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-monthly-bills-you-can-slash">pay a cell phone bill</a> every month. Depending on the package, a landline can cost between $180 and $480 every year. That can mean big savings if you already have a landline and want to get rid of it, too. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-like-my-flip-phone-the-5-smartphone-effects">Why&nbsp;I Like My&nbsp;Flip Phone</a>)</p> <h2>The Ubiquity of Cell Phones</h2> <p>As a culture, we like cell phones. There are still some issues we&rsquo;re working out &mdash; like how young is too young for a cell phone &mdash; but, in general, it&rsquo;s not an unreasonable assumption that if you&rsquo;re reading this article, you have a cell phone. In fact, CTIA <a href="http://arstechnica.com/business/2012/10/talk-is-cheap-six-billion-people-worldwide-have-cellphones/" target="_blank">reported</a> in 2012 that there are more mobile subscriptions in the U.S. than there are people living in the country.</p> <p>Why would you want to keep a landline if you are statistically likely to already have a cell phone in your hand? Since most people who want to reach you probably call your cell directly, your reasons might include concerns about safety.</p> <p><strong>What About Emergency Response?</strong></p> <p>Up until recently, one of the biggest issues was whether emergency responders could find someone calling from a cell phone. In the event that a person called 911, but was unable to give their location, a cell phone does not necessarily provide an address. However, newer cell phones incorporate <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enhanced_9-1-1" target="_blank">E911 capability</a>, which allows a service provider to give data about location to emergency responders.</p> <p><strong>What About Cell Phone Reliability?</strong></p> <p>There&rsquo;s also a concern that cell phones may be less reliable than landlines.</p> <p>In general, reliability has increased since cell phones were first introduced, although there are still some places where you just won&rsquo;t get great reception. In emergencies, it&rsquo;s often possible that either, or even both, wired or wireless phone service will be disrupted, so choosing between the two is a bit of a wash.</p> <p>There are some systems that may seem to require a phone line, like fax machines and alarm systems. But just about every system has a wireless alternative these days. It may take a little research to find options, but saving a few hundred dollars each year is worth it.</p> <h2>Is There Any Reason to Keep Your Landline?</h2> <p>For some people <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-i-still-dont-have-a-cellphone-plan-yet">keeping a landline</a> may still make sense. The most obvious reason is if you don&rsquo;t have a cell phone already. If you&rsquo;ve managed to make it this long without a cell phone, by all means, stick to what&rsquo;s working for you!</p> <p>Some locations are still not very cell phone friendly. Because of the realities of geography and location of cell towers, there are still some places that are effectively dead zones for cell connections. If your home is in once such place, you&rsquo;ll need to have a landline or another alternative, such as Skype or other VOIP services.</p> <p>There are also some very specific situations that still require a landline; for instance, people with pacemakers must have access to a landline for monitoring purposes (using a specialized interface, doctors can monitor pacemakers over the phone).</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re not comfortable with not having a landline for any reason and the cost isn&rsquo;t an issue, make the decision that you&rsquo;re comfortable with. But if you don&rsquo;t need a landline and no special situations apply, it&rsquo;s worth considering getting rid of yours.</p> <p><em>Have you dropped your landline telephone service? If not, why not?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thursday-bram">Thursday Bram</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/seriously-get-rid-of-your-landline">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-cutting-your-landline-is-a-bad-deal">6 Reasons Cutting Your Landline Is a Bad Deal</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lower-your-credit-card-interest-rate-and-reduce-your-phone-bill-immediately-and-easily">Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rate and Reduce Your Phone Bill, Immediately and Easily</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/living-without-a-landline">Living Without A Landline</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-life-is-wonderful-when-youre-debt-free">6 Ways Life is Wonderful When You&#039;re Debt-Free</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-to-keep-your-money-separated-after-marriage">5 Reasons to Keep Your Money Separated After Marriage</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle cell phones landline lower bills Thu, 24 Jan 2013 10:48:36 +0000 Thursday Bram 967386 at http://www.wisebread.com The Joy of Disconnecting http://www.wisebread.com/the-joy-of-disconnecting <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-joy-of-disconnecting" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/6993599872_9e75b43870_z.jpg" alt="smartphone" title="smartphone" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You&rsquo;ve heard the horror stories in the news &mdash; &ldquo;Teen Racks Up Multi-Thousand Dollar Phone Bill&rdquo; or &ldquo;Video Game Enthusiast Dies in 24+ Hour Gaming Marathon.&rdquo; Of course these are extreme examples, but the fact remains that we are obsessed with our technological devices. From phones and tablets to computers and gaming consoles, those of us living in the Digital Age are practically addicted to our electronics.</p> <p>Indeed &mdash; <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brain-bootcamp/200907/techno-addicts">an&nbsp;article from Psychology Today</a> points out that when we browse our favorite websites or receive a text message, we get a boost of the neurotransmitter dopamine. This chemical is responsible for the pleasurable feeling or &ldquo;rush&rdquo; we get, and it inadvertently feeds our addiction to our devices.</p> <p>Some experts argue that this dopamine rush can make an addiction to electronics as powerful as an addiction to alcohol or gambling. Combined with our collective mindset that technology isn&rsquo;t really a bad thing (and thus, not an addiction worth worrying about), this makes the push to disconnect from our devices all the more important.</p> <p>But if your life <em>isn&rsquo;t </em>negatively affected by the constant use of electronic tech, why should you bother using it less? Well, let&rsquo;s examine the joys of disconnecting (and how to do it!). (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-stay-focused-at-work">How to Stay Focused at Work</a>)</p> <h2>Productivity Boost</h2> <p>With the rise of smartphones in the past couple of years, we have acquired the ability to stay connected to both our phone contacts and social media accounts at any hour of the day, almost anywhere in the country. This instantaneousness has <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andbreathe-become-more-patient-in-9-easy-steps">made us more impatient</a>, less willing to wait more than a few seconds for something to load or another person to return your message.</p> <p>Not only that, but we&rsquo;ve become more distracted &mdash; One new email! New text! Twitter update! Friend&rsquo;s-name-here posted on your wall! &mdash; and lost a major life skill in the process, the ability to concentrate on a project for a long period of time. In turn, this leads to a significant loss in productivity, where an hour-long task now takes two hours because you paused to text your friend or colleague back and lost track of time once the conversation took off.</p> <p>Disconnecting &mdash; even if just for an hour or two per day to start &mdash; would allow you to get more done in a shorter amount of time, leaving you free to converse with your friends, catch up on news, or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/massive-list-of-things-to-do-while-watching-tv">watch TV</a> later.</p> <h2>Road Safety</h2> <p>Speaking of distractions, <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrymagid/2012/06/10/cdc-study-too-many-teens-text-while-driving/">an&nbsp;article in Forbes</a> points out the dangers of texting while driving (according to a recent CDC study):</p> <ul> <li>In 2009, more than 5,400 people died in crashes that were reported to involve a distracted driver and about 448,000 people were injured.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Among those killed or injured in the crashes, nearly 1,000 deaths and 24,000 injured included cell phone use as the major distraction.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Nearly 33% of teenaged drivers nationwide have admitted to texting or emailing while behind the wheel.</li> </ul> <p>There are laws in many states against texting while driving, but just as speeding tickets don&rsquo;t stop people from going well above the speed limit, anti-texting laws aren&rsquo;t particularly effective in stopping people from texting while driving.</p> <p>Again, disconnecting can help prevent more of these tragic accidents (it&rsquo;s as easy as pulling over or waiting until you arrive at your destination to send or read a text).</p> <h2>Self-Reliance vs. Techno-Laziness</h2> <p>It&rsquo;s one thing to start using iPads in classrooms to cut back on textbook costs; it&rsquo;s a whole other thing to allow computers to diminish our critical thinking abilities, both in school and in the workplace. Calculators have been around for years (and now they&rsquo;re pre-installed apps on our smartphones), but that&rsquo;s no excuse to rely completely on technology to do our math for us.</p> <p>Taking a break from tech every once in a while would prevent our society from becoming like those dystopian Hollywood flicks, where robots do everything for us and any glitch in the system leaves humanity in the dark (OK, maybe not that extreme, but the &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know what to do&rdquo; panic after a technological failure is undeniably commonplace today).</p> <h2>How to Disconnect</h2> <p>So maybe you&rsquo;re not sold on the idea of ditching your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/frugal-advice-for-the-gadget-addicted">phone, laptop, and other electronics</a> (it&rsquo;s okay; neither am I). But making a conscious effort to occasionally turn off your phone (or at least put it on silent &mdash; especially in movie theaters, for the sake of the audience members around you) can do wonders for both your state of mind and daily productivity. While driving, perhaps leave it in the glove compartment so you won&rsquo;t know whether you received a text until you&rsquo;re off the road.</p> <p>For Facebook (or other social media sites) addicts, <a href="https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/laankejkbhbdhmipfmgcngdelahlfoji">StayFocused</a> is an incredible app for temporarily blocking certain websites while you&rsquo;re trying to work on the computer. Using this app means you can&rsquo;t access your favorite websites until the time is up, forcing you to stay focused on the task.</p> <p><em>How do you stay disconnected? Can you think of any other benefits of turning off the tech for a while? Tell us in the comment section below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kelly-kehoe">Kelly Kehoe</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-joy-of-disconnecting">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/no-signal-5-quick-ways-to-boost-your-cell-phone-reception-updated">No Signal? 6 Ways to Boost Your Cell Phone Reception</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-productivity-tips-for-it-professionals">10 Productivity Tips for IT Professionals</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-skills-that-will-be-obsolete-soon">9 Skills That Will Be Obsolete Soon</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-make-facebook-productive">10 Ways to Make Facebook Productive</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buying-a-new-smartphone-without-extending-your-contract">Buying a New Smartphone Without Extending Your Contract</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Productivity Technology addictions cell phones distraction relaxing Fri, 10 Aug 2012 10:36:42 +0000 Kelly Kehoe 948717 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Out-of-Fashion but Totally Frugal Old Tools http://www.wisebread.com/10-out-of-fashion-but-totally-frugal-old-tools <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-out-of-fashion-but-totally-frugal-old-tools" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4622574783_822f4c92f9_z.jpg" alt="typewriter" title="typewriter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all love the convenience that modern technology affords, but that convenience often comes with a hefty price tag.</p> <p>You don&rsquo;t have to pay top dollar for newfangled devices, however. You can save a sizable sum by swearing off appliances and other tools with batteries and cords in favor of their old-fashioned counterparts that only need a bit of elbow grease to get the job done.</p> <p>Time to get nostalgic then. Here are 10 such tools. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-10-items-to-borrow">The Best 10 Items to Borrow</a>)</p> <h2>1. Push Reel Mower</h2> <p>This early lawn mower design makes me laugh because it&rsquo;s probably one of the most dangerous devices ever made. I&rsquo;m sure some fingers and toes were lost in the '50s and '60s due to curiosity and negligence. But if you're smart enough to know that you shouldn't stick your digits anywhere near spinning, exposed blades, you'll be OK. The push reel mower is powered by forward motion, so you're saving money on gas versus a modern-day push mower or an extremely expensive riding mower. Plus you'll get lots of exercise trying to push it around the yard to get the job done. This frugal device is not for the faint of heart &mdash; it's a serious workout. Bring water.</p> <h2>2. Washboard</h2> <p>The first thing I think of when the image of a washboard pops into my head is &ldquo;Emmet Otter&rsquo;s Jug-Band Christmas;&rdquo; I think it was a beaver who used this tool as his instrument of choice. While you&rsquo;ll be hard-pressed to find a washboard outside of an antique store, this is a frugal tool that I can totally get behind. A lot of my clothing is delicate &mdash; wools, cashmeres, etc. &mdash; so I sometimes prefer to wash single items by hand. The washboard can help release the stains much quicker than trying to scrape them out with your fingers or a quarter (and don&rsquo;t act like you&rsquo;ve never done the latter).</p> <h2>3. Eggbeater</h2> <p>While it&rsquo;s called an eggbeater, this device is a multipurpose beater that preceded your handheld electric mixer or that coveted Kitchen Aid. I&rsquo;m not sure why it was even used for eggs in the first place &mdash; a fork works just fine to beat eggs in my house, as I&rsquo;m sure it did for the pilgrims &mdash; but the beater came in handy for other mixtures (like cake batter) that required more beating gusto than a fork can produce. While the old eggbeater is frugal, it&rsquo;s also a tool that requires strength and stamina. Have you ever tried beating anything with this device? After about 30 seconds you&rsquo;ll realize why it&rsquo;s extinct.</p> <h2>4. Paper Maps</h2> <p>Confession time &mdash; I have never used a paper map to get anywhere because I don&rsquo;t know how to read a paper map. Does anyone, really? The only examples I&rsquo;ve seen of people using paper maps end in them arguing and crumbling it up &mdash; which is not a sign of people who are getting along fine with the map. (Besides, by the time I reached driving age, MapQuest was invented.) The benefit to paper maps over your phone or GPS, however, is that there are few errors. Paper maps are painstakingly created so they&rsquo;re virtually perfect, whereas today&rsquo;s technology can malfunction and send you off course.</p> <h2>5. Meat Grinder</h2> <p>If you want to avoid paying premium prices for ground beef, invest in a meat grinder and turn cheap cuts of beef into hamburger patties with just a few cranks of the handle at home. A meat grinder is ideal for any kind of meat that you want ground up, and some versions have an attachment so you can turn ground meat into homemade sausages. Throw those puppies on the grill, and you'll definitely wow the crowd with your culinary skills.</p> <h2>6. Payphone</h2> <p>Are you as surprised as I am when you see a payphone? And when did they all disappear? It was like some covert government operation eliminated all the payphones one night while we were sleeping. In any case, the payphone is infinitely cheaper than your cell phone when you compare how much you actually talk on the phone by how much you pay for it. The base rate of my <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kick-that-cell-phone-contract-save-with-a-prepaid-plan">cell phone plan</a> (just to make calls) is $46.99 a month. Last month I talked for 42 minutes total, which means that I paid $1.11 per minute. If I didn't like texting so much or reading Wikipedia at night under the covers while my husband is snoring, I'd definitely drop my mobile plan and seek out a payphone when I need to make my two phone calls a month.</p> <h2>7. Typewriter</h2> <p>There are plenty of arguments on why the computer is superior to the typewriter, but if you have no use for the Internet and you don&rsquo;t mind producing documents spotted with Wite-Out, by all means return to using the typewriter and save. Plus, a typewriter has that retro-cool thing goin' for it. It's also the perfect device to use if you want to be crafty with gift tags or individual thank-you cards.</p> <h2>8. Floor Sweeper</h2> <p>Dyson does an excellent job of making a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/upright-vacuum-cleaners-buying-guide">vacuum cleaner</a> look sexy; people think I&rsquo;m crazy when I ask for these newfangled products for Christmas. (Yes, I might be the only boy in the world who is happy to receive appliances and cookware as gifts.) However, if you don&rsquo;t want to spend upwards of $400 dollars on that brilliant ball design, a floor sweeper will pick up all the same crud from your abode for much less. Other benefits include no cord to trip over or wrap up and no noisy motor to send your dogs into a tizzy.</p> <h2>9. Abacus</h2> <p>One of my Facebook friends suggested this old-fashioned-but-frugal tool, and I agree 100%. Anybody who was in high school in the late &lsquo;90s knows that most modern curriculums required a high-priced, huge calculator designed by &mdash; for the most part &mdash; Texas Instruments. (I should have bought stock in that company 10 years ago.) The truth is, though, my purchase of that calculator was a major waste of money because I couldn&rsquo;t care less about any kind of math beyond basic arithmetic (and because I mostly used it to play games in math class). I didn&rsquo;t need algebra, calculus, or trigonometry then, and I sure as heck don&rsquo;t need it now. Long live the abacus and its simple, cheap system of teaching us how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide.</p> <h2>10. Can Opener</h2> <p>Another confession &mdash; when I was living on my own for the first time, I had no idea how to operate a manual can opener. It was foreign to me because I grew up with an electric one. But just because I didn&rsquo;t know how to use it doesn&rsquo;t mean that I don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s a valuable tool. In fact, I think an electric can opener is probably the most useless modern device mention on this list. I also think it was invented by the laziest person on the planet. Comparably, how much faster does an electric can opener open a can than a manual opener opens a can? Like five seconds? Come on. I&rsquo;ll stick with the thing that costs $3 instead of the one that costs $30.</p> <p><em>Time to chime in. What other old fashioned, frugal devices can you think of? Do you still use any of them instead of the modern devices? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-out-of-fashion-but-totally-frugal-old-tools">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-effective-grease-and-oil-stain-removal-tips">14 Effective Grease and Oil Stain Removal Tips</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-laundry-detergents">The 5 Best Laundry Detergents</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-laundry-stain-removers">The 5 Best Laundry Stain Removers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/youre-washing-your-clothes-too-often-what-to-do-instead">You&#039;re Washing Your Clothes Too Often! (What to Do Instead)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kilowatts-a-killer-tips-for-air-drying-clothes">Kilowatts a Killer? Tips for Air-Drying Clothes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home cell phones cheap tools laundry lawn mower Fri, 15 Jun 2012 10:24:13 +0000 Mikey Rox 935064 at http://www.wisebread.com Are You Getting Charged by a Text Message Scam? http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-getting-charged-by-a-text-message-scam <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/are-you-getting-charged-by-a-text-message-scam" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4662188057_2cc4c10978_z.jpg" alt="woman texting" title="woman texting" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Recently, I started to receive some spam text messages. Then I got a text that was more disconcerting. It said that I signed up for a $9.99-a-month service called Bingoroo, which I never did, and welcomed me to the service. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/living-without-a-landline">Living Without a Landline</a>)</p> <p>I was a bit confused, so I looked up the company name in the text message &mdash; it's some text message bingo game. Their website says that you have to text them to subscribe, and I never did. So called AT&amp;T customer service to ask what this is all about.</p> <p>The AT&amp;T customer service representative was very apologetic and told me that this is a third party company that is using the AT&amp;T direct billing system to sell their content. I asked her how I can get rid of it. She said that this happens often and told me that I have to text STOP to them right away, and if I do get a $9.99 charge on my bill, I should call them back to get rid of the charge. Also, in her system she did see that the subscription is active even though I did not purchase it.</p> <p>Here is what is really scary &mdash; I asked the AT&amp;T employee if any of these SMS content companies could just bill me if they had my phone number, and her answer was yes. Then I asked what would have happened if I hadn't read my text and replied STOP, and her answer was that basically they would keep on charging me through my wireless bill. Essentially, for these text message services, having someone's phone number is as good as having their credit card, especially if the victim is someone who does not even use texting and just ignores the messages.</p> <p>I asked the representative how I could prevent these schemes, and she told me that there is actually a free-purchase blocker option that I could set up for my lines. However, this option is only available to technical support as part of parental controls, and there is no option on AT&amp;T's website to turn it on. I told her that I would like to set it up for all my lines. This means all automatic purchases through SMS will be blocked, but AT&amp;T will issue me a PIN that can be used in case I want to make any purchases. Also, AT&amp;T&nbsp;will cancel all current subscriptions.</p> <p>After this ordeal I researched premium SMS scams a bit, and they can come in many forms. There are actually many mobile phone apps that are disguised as games but actually sign people up to these useless services that charge a monthly fee. However, most service providers have an option to block content purchases. Here are a few tips to stop yourself from being a premium SMS scam victim.</p> <ol> <li>Check your phone bill and content subscriptions, and make sure everything is what you ordered. If you have AT&amp;T, premium subscriptions can be checked on their <a href="http://att.com/db">Manage Mobile Purchases &amp; Downloads</a> page.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Read your spam texts and text STOP immediately to messages that say you've signed up for something. According to the AT&amp;T <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-what-you-want-on-customer-service-calls">customer service representative</a>, this gives the phone company a record when you unsubscribed, so when you contest the charges, you have them on your side.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Contest any charges for services you did not purchase as soon as you can. I've read some stories that some people have been charged hundreds of dollars over years of being victimized.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Turn on premium content blocking with your phone company so that purchases through texting can be only made by you with your PIN.</li> </ol> <p>Hopefully in the future I will not have to deal with unauthorized SMS purchases again, but it really bothers me that the phone company knows that this is going on, yet still allows the offending companies to be operating on their network.</p> <p><em>What do you think? Have you experienced a premium SMS scam?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/xin-lu">Xin Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-getting-charged-by-a-text-message-scam">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-marketing-tricks-you-should-be-aware-of">10 Surprising Marketing Tricks You Should Be Aware Of</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-is-the-cell-phone-industry-so-screwed-up">Why Is the Cell Phone Industry So Screwed Up?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-sneaky-store-perks-that-make-you-overspend">4 Sneaky Store Perks That Make You Overspend</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/netspend-the-story-of-the-visa-debit-card-we-did-not-apply-for">netSpend: The Story of the Visa Debit Card We Did Not Apply For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-youre-being-a-terrible-customer">8 Ways You&#039;re Being a Terrible Customer</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs avoiding scams cell phones text message Fri, 16 Mar 2012 10:24:17 +0000 Xin Lu 910998 at http://www.wisebread.com What’s Congress Up to? 4 New Measures that May Affect Your Business http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/what-s-congress-up-to-4-new-measures-that-may-affect-your-business <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/whats-congress-up-to-4-new-measures-that-affect-your-business" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/whats-congress-up-to-4-new-measures-that-affec...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/what-s-congress-up-to-4-new-measures-that-may-affect-your-business" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000010717780Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="179" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>While some people are complaining that Congress has done nothing, there has been some recent activity on measures that can impact your business. Some changes are good, while others may have an adverse effect. Here is what you need to know.</p> <p><strong>1. Repeal of Withholding on Government Contractors</strong></p> <p>The 3 percent withholding on payments for goods or services of more than $10,000 to government contractors, that was scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2013, has been repealed by the <a href="http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-s1726/show" target="_blank">Withholding Tax Relief Act of 2011</a>. However, withholding continues to apply to contractors who fail to pay their taxes.</p> <p>At the same time as Congress repealed this harsh rule, it created two new tax credits to incentivize businesses to hire vets:</p> <ul> <li>A $5,600 tax credit for each veteran who has been unemployed for at least six months;</li> <li>A $9,600 tax credit for hiring an out-of-work veteran with service-related disabilities.</li> </ul> <p>Both credits, which are part of the Work Opportunity Credit, apply through 2012. If your business hires an employee that would entitle you to the credit, be sure have the new employee complete <a href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8850.pdf" target="_blank">Form 8850, <i>Pre-Screening Notice and Certification Request for the Work Opportunity Credit</i></a> and submit it to your state workforce agency within 28 days.</p> <p><strong>2. Tax on Telecommuters</strong></p> <p>Today, more and more businesses allow employees to telecommute. This can be a win-win for you and your employees. You save on space and increase employee productivity, the employee is freed from the time and cost of commuting, and the community benefits from reduced traffic and fuel emissions.</p> <p>At present, telecommuting from another state can result in additional state income taxes for teleworkers.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s112-1811" target="_blank">Telecommuter Tax Fairness Act of 2011</a> would prevent states from imposing individual income taxes on telecommuting nonresident individuals who are actually physically present in another state. Thus, if your company is in New York and your workers telecommute from Connecticut, New Jersey, or any other state, your workers will escape New York taxes.</p> <p>The measure has bi-partisan support and is also supported by various groups, including the Telework Coalition, the National Taxpayers Union, the Small Business &amp; Entrepreneurship Council, and the Association for Commuter Transportation. However, a similar bill failed to be enacted in the past, so we&rsquo;ll have to wait and see about enactment.</p> <p><strong>3. Sales Taxes on Wireless Devices</strong></p> <p>Currently, state and local taxes and fees on wireless devices average about 16.3 percent, compared with 7.4 percent on other goods and services. The disparity could get worse as cities and states continue to look for new sources of revenue and businesses rely more and more on wireless devices.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-1002" target="_blank">Wireless Fairness Act of 2011 (H.R. 1002)</a>, passed by the House on November 1<sup>st</sup>, would prevent states from imposing &ldquo;discriminatory&rdquo; taxes on wireless devices (taxes on wireless devices are double what they are on other goods and services). This would be accomplished by means of a five-year moratorium on any new taxes and fees on wireless devices.</p> <p>The measure is favored by businesses as well as service providers such as AT&amp;T and Verizon. It is opposed by cities and states that continue to need the revenue. Let&rsquo;s see if the Senate can pass this quickly.</p> <p><strong>4. Sales Tax on Online Sales</strong></p> <p>Sales tax for online purchases is a <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/internet-sales-taxes-could-change-your-business-1" target="_blank">complicated matter</a>, with many small businesses unclear about their collection responsibilities. Generally, states cannot collect sales taxes from online retailers that do not have a physical presence within the state. The definition of &ldquo;physical presence&rdquo; (or &ldquo;nexus&rdquo;) has been expanding as states seek to increase the scope of collections. It can, for example, include not only having a sales force in another state, but also warehouses, shipping facilities, and other connections.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-s1832/comments" target="_blank">Marketplace Fairness Act</a> would create the first national authorization for states to collect online sales tax. The bill likely will exempt &ldquo;small businesses&rdquo; (defined in the bill as those with online revenue under $500,000). The exemption amount may be changed in a final bill, which likely won&rsquo;t happen until next year (after this year&rsquo;s holiday sales season).</p> <p>Amazon, which had $34 billion in online sales last year, has come on board to support the measure. Some small business groups, as well as eBay, oppose it because of the added administrative cost it likely will entail. However, in the end, it would mean that whether a business operates locally or across state lines, it would collect sales tax on its goods and services.</p> <p><b>Final Word</b></p> <p>Stay abreast of developments on the federal and state level that can have an important impact on your business. You can keep tabs on developments that may affect your business through the <a href="http://www.nfib.com/" target="_blank">National Federation of Independent Business</a>.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/barbara-weltman">Barbara Weltman</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/what-s-congress-up-to-4-new-measures-that-may-affect-your-business">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/no-signal-5-quick-ways-to-boost-your-cell-phone-reception-updated">No Signal? 6 Ways to Boost Your Cell Phone Reception</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-11-oddest-things-america-has-ever-taxed">The 11 Oddest Things America Has Ever Taxed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-ways-to-get-a-small-business-loan">10+ Smart Ways to Get a Small Business Loan</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center cell phones contractors internet sales tax online sales tax Sales Tax small business tax law telecommuters Mon, 21 Nov 2011 19:26:13 +0000 Barbara Weltman 788827 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: How To Go Without Cell Phones http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-how-to-go-without-cell-phones <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-how-to-go-without-cell-phones" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/2775195443_1d52fb1261_z-1.jpg" alt="How To Go Without Cell Phones" title="How To Go Without Cell Phones" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some great articles on how to go without cell phones, ways to make today unforgettable, and how to save on your stay the next time you vacation.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.debtfreeadventure.com/how-to-go-without-cell-phones/">How to Go Without Cell Phones</a> &mdash; Survive without a cell phone by utilizing Skype or Google Voice. [Debt Free Adventure]</p> <p><a href="http://www.marcandangel.com/2011/06/05/20-ways-to-make-today-unforgettable/">20 Ways To Make Today Unforgettable</a> &mdash; Make today unforgettable by smiling and noticing what is right. [Marc and Angel Hack Life]</p> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/How-Get-Cheap-Price-Hotels-17763354">Budget Travel: 7 Ways to Save on Your Stay</a> &mdash; Save on your next vacation by staying at a hostel. [SavvySugar]</p> <p><a href="http://money.cnn.com/2011/06/07/pf/saving/wedding_planning_for_savings/index.htm?section=money_pf&amp;utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fmoney_pf+%28Personal+Finance%29">Wedding planning means wedding savings</a> &mdash; Save money on your wedding by cutting your guest list in half. [CNNMoney]</p> <p><a href="http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/2011/06/10-ways-to-stay-poor-forever/?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+budgetsaresexy+%28Budgets+are+Sexy.%29">10 Ways to Stay Poor Forever</a> &mdash; If you want to stay poor forever, don't pay your bills on time. [Budgets Are Sexy]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/ready-for-meatless-mondays-5-tips-for-going-veg">Ready For Meatless Mondays? 5 Tips For Going Vegetarian</a> &mdash; Make meatless Monday's a success at your house by using meat alternatives. [Parenting Squad]</p> <p><a href="http://www.lifequote.com/blog/top-5-reasons-buy-life-insurance/?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+LifeQuote+%28LifeQuote%29">Top 5 Reasons to Buy Life Insurance</a> &mdash; One reason to buy life insurance is to help your family out with final expenses and funeral costs. [LifeQuote Blog]</p> <p><a href="http://www.beatingbroke.com/11-tips-on-smarter-spending/">11 Tips on Smarter Spending</a> &mdash; Be a smarter spender by using a shopping list. [Beating Broke]</p> <p><a href="http://www.dumblittleman.com/2008/11/ten-ways-to-improve-your-listening.html?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+DumbLittleMan+%28Dumb+Little+Man+-+tips+for+life%29">Ten Ways to Improve Your Listening Skills</a> &mdash; Improve your listening skills by not interrupting the speaker. [Dumb Little Man]</p> <p><a href="http://www.biblemoneymatters.com/3-quick-ways-to-recover-from-a-spending-spree/">3 Quick Ways To Recover From A Spending Spree</a> &mdash; Recover from a spending spree by working a side job. [Bible Money Matters]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-how-to-go-without-cell-phones">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-you-should-splurge-on-experiences-not-things">4 Reasons You Should Splurge on Experiences, Not Things</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-the-95-best-ways-to-get-fit-for-free">Flashback Friday: The 95 Best Ways to Get Fit for Free</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-6-rules-of-frugal-living-you-need-to-know">The Only 6 Rules of Frugal Living You Need to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-negotiation-mistakes-that-will-destroy-your-deal">10 Negotiation Mistakes That Will Destroy Your Deal</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-8-best-pets-for-frugal-animal-lovers">The 8 Best Pets for Frugal Animal Lovers</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living best money tips cell phones Wed, 08 Jun 2011 10:00:08 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 570813 at http://www.wisebread.com Buying a New Smartphone Without Extending Your Contract http://www.wisebread.com/buying-a-new-smartphone-without-extending-your-contract <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/buying-a-new-smartphone-without-extending-your-contract" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/new_smartphone.jpg" alt="Smartphone" title="Smartphone" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Buying a new phone is great, especially since&nbsp;most carriers will give you a hefty discount ($199 vs. $529 for retail) in exchange for extending your contract for two years.</p> <p>Why would anyone hesitate to trade two years for a $329 discount? There are lots of reasons:</p> <ul> <li>They hate their service but love their phone (iPhone anyone?)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>They're waiting for the phone they want to become available on a &quot;better&quot; carrier (Verizon<em>-cough-cough</em>)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>They don't like being tied down</li> </ul> <p>I was recently forced to go this route because I am on <a href="http://www.thewriterscoin.com/2010/12/22/my-cellphone-plan-better-than-yours/">a sweet plan</a> that is so heavily discounted, I <em>had</em> to pay retail.</p> <p>I upgraded to a newer, better, faster phone without extending my contract and only paid $215. If you include the taxes and activation fees that come with extending your contract for two years, I actually paid less than most people would!</p> <p>Here are four tips I followed to&nbsp;buy a new phone without giving those evil carriers what they want:</p> <h2>Research</h2> <p>It all starts with research. The carriers will tout the newest phones with the latest features, but they aren't necessarily <em>that </em>much better. When a carrier says stuff like &quot;this phone will keep you connected to your friends via Facebook,&quot; you know they're talking crap. Most smartphones can do most tasks, so don't fall for carriers' marketing spin.</p> <p>You have to rely on yourself to know the facts. Read reviews on sites like <a href="http://www.engadget.com/">Engadget</a> and <a href="http://www.gizmodo.com">Gizmodo</a>. See what <em>Consumer Reports</em> has to say. Ask your friends what features they use and like. Ask the people who follow you on Twitter.</p> <p>Just don't walk into a carrier's store and ask the person behind the counter what the best phone is...it isn't in your best interest.</p> <h2>Hold the Phone</h2> <p>After you've done your research and narrowed it down to two or three phones, it's essential that you actually hold them in your hand and test them out.</p> <p>You're trying to answer crucial questions like:</p> <ul> <li>How does it feel in your hand?</li> <li>Do you need a keyboard?</li> <li>How is the screen's responsiveness?</li> <li>How does the interface work for you?</li> <li>Will other people think you're cool if you have this phone?</li> </ul> <p>I went into two different T-Mobile stores a couple of times to play with two different phones: the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003TXSKNE?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=thwrsco-20&amp;linkCode=xm2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creativeASIN=B003TXSKNE">Samsung Vibrant</a> and the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0042RUOFI?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=thwrsco-20&amp;linkCode=xm2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creativeASIN=B0042RUOFI">HTC G2</a>. The screen on the Vibrant was amazing, but the G2 had a keyboard. They were two totally different phones with their own pluses and minuses.</p> <p>Reviews help, but the best way to know if a phone works for you is by holding it and testing it.</p> <h2>Buying It: Use Craigslist and eBay</h2> <p>Craigslist and eBay are a great way to&nbsp;find phones that are in great condition at heavy discounts.</p> <p>Ideally you'll find a phone that has been well taken care of. That means you may have to buy a phone that has been out there for a few months already. Nobody said this was going to be a free ride.</p> <p>Also, make sure to ask your local carrier's store if they have any refurbished or returned phones. These are practically new but have to be sold for less because they've been opened and used.</p> <p>I was lucky enough to find a guy online selling a <a href="http://www.google.com/phone/detail/nexus-one">Nexus One</a> for $365 that looked brand new. He had put a screen protector and body glove on it from day one so it was almost like I was buying a new phone at a used price.</p> <h2>Sell Your Old Phone</h2> <p>Selling your old phone will help you offset the price of the phone you just bought. Lots of people sell their old phones on eBay and Craigslist, so making yours stand out is important if you want to get top dollar. Some things you can do to make your listing stand out:</p> <ul> <li>Include any extra chargers, car chargers, docks, or batteries you have</li> <li>Include the original box and manual if you have them</li> <li>Lots of close-up, quality pictures</li> <li><a href="http://www.thewriterscoin.com/2010/11/05/buying-a-new-cellphone-an-obsession/">Upgrade the software on your own</a></li> <li>Use spell-check so you don't come off like a psycho</li> </ul> <p>See what other people are selling the phone for, and if you can make your listing stand out, you might get top dollar to offset the purchase of your new phone.</p> <p>I sold my two-and-a-half-year-old G1 for $150 because I included every accessory I had, took time to craft a good listing, and upgraded it to the latest Android version. That made my phone stand out, and I listed it for a relatively high price.</p> <h2>Enjoy Your New Phone!</h2> <p>Now you have a new(ish) phone and you don't have to commit to another two years with your carrier. So when Verizon finally comes out with the iPhone, you'll be ready to jump ship and enjoy the latest iPhone without being on the worst network, according to <a href="http://blogs.consumerreports.org/electronics/2010/12/consumer-reports-cell-phone-survey-att-worst.html"><em>Consumer Reports</em></a>.</p> <p><em>Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, and I will earn a commission for any purchase made through these links.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carlos-portocarrero">Carlos Portocarrero</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buying-a-new-smartphone-without-extending-your-contract">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-best-couponing-apps">The 10 Best Couponing Apps</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/frugal-advice-for-the-gadget-addicted">Frugal Advice for the Gadget Addicted</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-powerful-smartphones-that-arent-overpriced">4 Powerful Smartphones That Aren&#039;t Overpriced</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cheap-smartphones-which-ones-are-worth-it">Cheap Smartphones: Which Ones Are Worth It?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-google-wallet-can-save-you-money">5 Ways Google Wallet Can Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping Technology cell phones contracts saving on cell phones smartphones Wed, 05 Jan 2011 14:00:11 +0000 Carlos Portocarrero 418132 at http://www.wisebread.com Kick that Cell Phone Contract: Save with a Prepaid Plan http://www.wisebread.com/kick-that-cell-phone-contract-save-with-a-prepaid-plan <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/kick-that-cell-phone-contract-save-with-a-prepaid-plan" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/528009_72793626.jpg" alt="cell phone" title="cell phone" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you are married to your cell phone, you may not mind paying top dollar for your service plan. For many people, their cell phone has become their primary portal to the world, and that's fine, especially for cell phone companies.</p> <p>But if you want, you can save big money by going <strong>prepaid</strong>. Here's how. First, let your cell phone contract expire. Then shop around for a prepaid plan. A prepaid plan, or pay-as you-go, is just that: a plan for which you pay for the minutes, usually by the minute, <em>before</em> you use them. It replaces the standard contract-based plan and the credit check and termination penalty fee that goes with the contract. Prepaid plans have long been popular in Europe, and are gaining ground here.</p> <p>(But first, what is cheaper and better than a prepaid plan? Being added to an existing family plan. This option will have the most appeal for younger users like college students and 20-somethings. It does, however, require a little family diplomacy and accountability on the part of the user. Mom and Dad don't usually care to rescue you for late payments or lost phones.)</p> <p>Prepaid wireless plans are the fastest growing segment in the market today. Good plans, like Virgin Mobile, can save you $20 a month on a plan that allows 400 Anytime Minutes per month. However, not every prepaid plan is cheaper than a contract-based plan, so it pays to shop around.</p> <h2>Prepaid Benefits</h2> <p>Prepaid plans can get you out from a monthly bill. Prepaid plans offer no hidden costs, don't have termination fees, and don't play to your weaknesses. You don't have to undergo a credit check. All of these reasons, and more, add up to savings if you get out from under that onerous contract. When you think about it, what other service requires you to sign up for years at a time and then penalizes you when you change your mind?</p> <p>And it gets worse. Some companies extend your contract commitment for even minor service adjustments!</p> <p>A half-dozen major carriers offer prepaid plans. These include companies like: AT&amp;T, Net10, T-Mobile, Tracfone, Verizen Wireless, and the aforementioned Virgin Mobile. You can access some of these <a href="http://www.wirelessguide.org/plan/prepaid.htm">here</a>.</p> <p>You want to keep the math simple? T-Mobile charges $100 for 1,000 Anytime Minutes that last a year. If you are in the phone-as-a-last-resort crowd, that will last you a year &mdash; at $8.33 a month.</p> <p>Downsides? There can be a few:</p> <ul> <li>Cost-per-minute charges can be higher (at least 10 cents a minute).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Prepaid minutes expire (but you can keep minutes active for up to a year or more with some plans).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You have to track your own usage.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Texting involves extra charges, can be incoming only, or may not be offered.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>As with all cell phone plans, read the fine print first.</li> </ul> <h2>Texting</h2> <p>The word on texting is that major carriers don't offer much. But secondary carriers like Straight Talk Wireless, Cricket, and Alltel Prepaid offer prepaid plans with unlimited texting. They cost more, but if texting is your lifeline and you don't want a contract, they've got you covered for as low as $35 a month with Cricket.</p> <p>If you text often, consider unlimited texting since it can be hard to track your usage.</p> <h2>Select a Plan, Buy Your Own Phone</h2> <p>You can select a company and buy your own phone on eBay. First, choose your plan, because you will need a cell phone that uses the same <strong>network</strong>. Contact a company representative and ask if you can sign up with your own phone. If the company offers a plan that includes a phone, expect a bit of a runaround before you get a straight answer. Obtain the network type name (like GSM) from the representative. Ask if a supervisor can verify the information if you don't trust the representative. Document the call for reference in the event you get a runaround when you go to sign up with your own phone. Then purchase a phone to match the service provider.</p> <p>eBay offers a good selection of phones, and sellers usually provide the network information.</p> <p>Some companies use the <strong>GSM</strong> network, while others use <strong>CDMA</strong>. You must know which protocol your intended carrier uses. Any GSM phone you buy must be <strong>unlocked</strong>. That is, its programming allows it to be used with different GSM carriers. ebay offers a wide selection of unlocked phones, beginning at about $20. Full-featured phones can be had for $50 - $75.</p> <p>Here is a snippet from <a href="http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-unlocked-cell-phones.htm">Wisegeek.com</a> that succinctly describes the difference between GSM and CDMA:</p> <blockquote><p>Carriers operating on the <a href="http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-difference-between-gsm-and-cdma.htm">GSM</a> network use SIM cards. In the United Sates, this includes Cingular Wireless, now one with AT&amp;T Wireless, and T-Mobile. Carriers that use the competing <a href="http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-difference-between-gsm-and-cdma.htm">CDMA</a> network do not yet use card-enabled phones. These carriers include Sprint <a href="http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-pcs.htm">PCS</a>, Verizon and Virgin Mobile. The <a href="http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-cdma.htm">CDMA</a> equivalent of the SIM card &mdash; the <a href="http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-ruim-card.htm">R-UIM</a> &mdash; will be used by these carriers in the future.</p> </blockquote> <h2>Caveats and Contracts</h2> <p>Before buying, compare the cost of a prepaid plan with the provider's one-year contract price and <em>read the fine print</em>. The cell phone industry leads even the credit card industry in consumer complaints, so due diligence is advised.</p> <p>If you change your calling habits (location, usage rate, texting, going to Canada, whatever) check your coverage to avoid surprises. <em>Consumer Reports</em> says you can save $100 a year by going prepaid. If you change your habits, even slightly, you can save much more than that.</p> <p>Of course, for all of this to work, you have to get out of your old contract. To avoid paying a fee, stop accepting (or requesting) new phones and do not change the status of your service in any way. Contact your provider to see when your contract is due to expire. Hopefully, the company has a pro-rated penalty fee, so if you are halfway through a contract, you only pay half the full penalty. Or just wait it out. Do your research in the meantime. If you already &quot;own&quot; the phone you have, choose a network to fit it.</p> <p>Prepaid plans require a little more&hellip;planning. But they remain a viable strategy to get out from under the yoke of a big-bucks plan while saving money at the same time &mdash; never a bad idea when times are tight or you just want a little more autonomy in your life.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This is a guest post by Steve Klingaman, a nonprofit development consultant and nonfiction writer living in Minneapolis. Read more by Steve:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://open.salon.com/blog/steve_klingaman/2010/03/24/four_things_about_health_care_reform">Four Things About Health Care Reform</a></li> <li><a href="http://open.salon.com/blog/steve_klingaman/2010/02/11/2010_year_of_the_roth_ira_conversion">2010: Year of the Roth IRA Conversion</a></li> <li><a href="http://open.salon.com/blog/steve_klingaman/2009/07/30/finally_student_loan_debt_relief_arrives_for_many">Finally! Student Loan Debt Relief Arrives for Many</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/steve-klingaman">Steve Klingaman</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kick-that-cell-phone-contract-save-with-a-prepaid-plan">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/no-signal-5-quick-ways-to-boost-your-cell-phone-reception-updated">No Signal? 6 Ways to Boost Your Cell Phone Reception</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-5-apps-will-help-you-finally-organize-your-money">These 5 Apps Will Help You Finally Organize Your Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-alternatives-to-cable-tv-that-will-keep-you-entertained">8 Alternatives to Cable TV That Will Keep You Entertained</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-your-smartphone-saves-you-money">8 Ways Your Smartphone Saves You Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buying-a-new-smartphone-without-extending-your-contract">Buying a New Smartphone Without Extending Your Contract</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Technology cell phones prepaid wireless Sun, 30 May 2010 17:00:03 +0000 Steve Klingaman 102862 at http://www.wisebread.com No Signal? 6 Ways to Boost Your Cell Phone Reception http://www.wisebread.com/no-signal-5-quick-ways-to-boost-your-cell-phone-reception-updated <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/no-signal-5-quick-ways-to-boost-your-cell-phone-reception-updated" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/000072207919.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Several years ago, a great cell phone signal was a nice thing to have. These days, it&rsquo;s absolutely essential for almost all of us. We are permanently switching from landlines to cell phones, with many of us no longer wanting to pay for two phone services when one will do just fine.</p> <p>However, one doesn&rsquo;t always &ldquo;do just fine.&rdquo; You&rsquo;ll know this yourself if you have experienced dropped calls, broken voices, no bars, and a frustrating lack of service when you&rsquo;re out and about. But it can be even worse when you live in an area with very weak cell phone reception. But don&rsquo;t worry, there are ways to boost your signal and keep in contact with the world. Here are 6 of the best.</p> <h3>Ask Your Provider For a Free Signal Booster.</h3> <p>The first tip really is that simple, and yes, there is actually a device called a <a href="http://amzn.to/1FBEqtT">signal booster</a>. It&rsquo;s also known as a repeater, and it improves the reception at your home or office by amplifying and repeating the signal. Now, there are many variations of this kind of device available for sale, and can be picked uip at places as common as Walmart and Best Buy. BUT, they&rsquo;re expensive. <a href="http://amzn.to/1FBEAS9">Some can cost over $500,</a> which is a big chunk of change. And what&rsquo;s more, it&rsquo;s infuriating to have to pay for something else because you are not getting the coverage you are paying for.</p> <p>What you may not know is that many most service providers will let you borrow these devices for a very small deposit; or better yet, no deposit at all. T-Mobile, for instance, offers <a href="http://forums.androidcentral.com/t-mobile/552803-t-mobile-cel-fi-4g-lte-signal-booster.html">customers a Cel-Fi 4G LTE Signal Booster</a> to anyone having trouble getting a good signal, and you are only required to pay for shipping (a measly $6 according to this customer). This is smart on T-Mobile&rsquo;s part. They know signal strength is a huge issue, and do not want you leaving for another provider, when a simple equipment upgrade will make you happy. So, check into it today.</p> <h3>If You Have Wi-Fi, Use It To Make Calls.</h3> <p>This may seem like an obvious idea to those of you already making Wi-Fi calls, but for many people, it&rsquo;s an option they had never considered. Most of us are lucky to have Wi-Fi in our homes, and we tap into it with our iPads, computers, DVD players and gaming consoles to access the Internet and online content. </p> <p>However, it is also very handy for making phone calls, and several smartphones and providers have a Wi-Fi calling feature. You can even set up your phone to automatically connect to Wi-Fi when you get home, and you will not even notice that you are making and receiving calls over the Internet rather than via a cell phone signal. What&rsquo;s more, the switch between the cellular network and your home or office Wi-Fi network can be seamless. You can enter the house talking on the phone over 4G, and finish your conversation over Wi-Fi. If you don&rsquo;t have high speed Internet and Wi-Fi at home, but your neighbor does, maybe you can negotiate a small monthly fee to gain access to their Wi-Fi signal.</p> <h3>For an Extended Battery, Bring Out The Foil Tape.</h3> <p>By far the biggest issue most of us face with cell phones, other than poor reception, is battery life. That&rsquo;s why the extended batteries and cases are becoming so popular. Unfortunately, it&rsquo;s a case of getting more battery life at the expense of the good signal. Many of the aftermarket batteries interfere with the reception, making it weak, or sometimes non-existent.</p> <p>Instructables user Geezer Nelson had this problem, and decided <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Improve-your-cell-phone-reception-Quick-easy-a/">to do something about it</a>. All you need is a roll of foil tape (copper or aluminum) that you can buy at any hardware store, and a few other small items. This was very a helpful when I had the same reception problems after I added a larger battery to my Galaxy S4. As you are making modifications to an aftermarket battery, and not one that came with the phone, or the phone itself, you are not doing anything to invalidate your warranty.</p> <h3>Try a Femtocell.</h3> <p>This is certainly not as good as a signal booster, but it may be worth a try if your options are limited. To start with, you need to understand the difference between a signal booster and a femtocell. Basically, a signal booster captures the signal outside of your home or office, amplifies it greatly, and then repeats this stronger signal inside. A femtocell is more like a mini cell phone tower. It&rsquo;s about the size of a router, and works in much the same way. Femtocells work with one specific provider, and can eat up your Internet bandwidth. BUT, they are easier to install, and are a better option for people who have absolutely no coverage (a signal booster NEEDS some kind of signal to boost). You can read more about femtocells, and <a href="http://www.mycellsignalbooster.com/page/why-cell-phone-signal-boosters-are-better-than-femtocells">the pros and cons of the technology, right here</a>.</p> <h3>Use an External Antenna.</h3> <p>A <a href="http://amzn.to/1jvXRu6">Jack External Antenna</a> plugs into the headphone jack of your phone and promises to boost the signal. Depending on the make and model of your cell phone, there will be different options available to you. And as always, different options means different prices. Of course, the major drag with these is that they are bulky, inconvenient, and are a horrible looking addition to any phone. Some of them even <a href="http://amzn.to/1YNa9yv">look like old-fashioned TV aerials</a>. But if you&rsquo;re out in the middle of nowhere, maybe camping or fishing, it&rsquo;s a possible option. It&rsquo;s certainly not one you can just pop in your pocket when you&rsquo;re out dancing at the club.</p> <h3>Make Your Own Booster Antenna.</h3> <p>If you&rsquo;re feeling handy, and don&rsquo;t want to pay money for one of those external antennas mentioned above, you can always build your own discrete version. It can be done very quickly and easily with simple materials.</p> <p>You will need: <a href="http://amzn.to/1jvYHqw">Magnet wire</a>; <a href="http://amzn.to/1FBGNNe">wire cutters</a>; <a href="http://amzn.to/1WwovRJ">emery cloth</a>; transparent tape; a ruler.</p> <p>Complete instructions are available <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaDs5-qPZNs">on the easy to follow video below</a>, and will take you under a minute. It&rsquo;s much less conspicuous, very cheap, and it works. But, as the video states, you do this at your own risk. It may invalidate your warranty, or perhaps even brick your phone. But, that&rsquo;s highly doubtful.</p> <p><iframe width="640" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MaDs5-qPZNs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/no-signal-5-quick-ways-to-boost-your-cell-phone-reception-updated">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buying-a-new-smartphone-without-extending-your-contract">Buying a New Smartphone Without Extending Your Contract</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kick-that-cell-phone-contract-save-with-a-prepaid-plan">Kick that Cell Phone Contract: Save with a Prepaid Plan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-joy-of-disconnecting">The Joy of Disconnecting</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-is-the-cell-phone-industry-so-screwed-up">Why Is the Cell Phone Industry So Screwed Up?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-apps-for-the-tech-challenged-traveler">7 Apps for the Tech-Challenged Traveler</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Technology cell phones phone signal Thu, 13 Dec 2007 18:42:07 +0000 Paul Michael 1496 at http://www.wisebread.com Free Ways to Keep Big Brother Out of Your Bidness http://www.wisebread.com/free-ways-to-keep-big-brother-out-of-your-bidness <p class="heading"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/spy_small.jpg" alt=" " width="298" height="197" /></p> <h4>Cell Phone Madness </h4> <p>I just love finding out that the government can find <a href="http://news.com.com/2100-1029-6140191.html">new and unique ways</a> to listen in on our lives. News reports and bloggers are all atwitter today about the news that the <a href="http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,114721-page,1/article.html">FBI can listen in on your coversations</a> while your cell phone is off, by tapping into your microphone. It&#39;s like wearing a wireless wire!</p> <p>GPS signals from cell phones and even vehicle-based emergency services like OnStar offer other ways for you to be tracked, and many companies are proud to <a href="http://www.gpsfleetsolutions.com/GPS_Cell_Phone_Tracking.php">discuss the employee-tracking businesses</a> that they run.</p> <p><strong>Free Fix:</strong> Protect yourself from government cell-phone bugging by taking your battery out of your cell when you feel like discussing the 1st Amendment. Or the 4th. Or the Constitution or any kind of rights. I am a little torn about <a href="http://whats.all.this.brouhaha.com/?p=132s">systems like OnStar</a>, because I feel like they can be useful, as can LoJack. I&#39;ve used both, and will continue to do so.</p> <h4>Passport RFID</h4> <p>Got a new government-issued passport recently? Worried about the ebedded RFID chip that can be scanned from a distance, thereby giving all of your information away to any <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/idcards/story/0,,1950226,00.html">tech-savvy scanner</a> in an airport? </p> <p><strong>Free Fix:</strong> <a href="http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/15.01/start.html?pg=9">Wired.com</a> gives you the heavy-handed lowdown on how to disable the RFID chip and protect your identity, with smashingly successful results.</p> <p class="heading">Your Landline</p> <p>Traditional wiretaps are always fun. It&#39;s very Nancy Drew, but every now and then, when I use a certain relative&#39;s landline, I hear a ticking sound that makes me a little nervous. If I were a titian-haired teenage detective, I might do something about it.</p> <p><strong>Free Fix:</strong> You can figure out if someone is tapping your phone by <a href="http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/question250.htm">looking directly at the wire</a>. Who knew?</p> <h4>Network Traffic</h4> <p>The FBI, NSA, and plenty of even more shadowy government agencies monitor network traffic, read emails, troll chat rooms, and probably get plenty of financial advice from frugal bloggers. </p> <p><strong>Free Fix:</strong> Carnivore, the FBI&#39;s favorite interweb spying tool, <a href="http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~evans/cs588-fall2001/projects/reports/team6.pdf">can be defeated</a>, and there are <a href="http://www.linuxdevcenter.com/pub/a/linux/2001/05/29/carnivore.html">lots of people</a> out there to help you figure out how.</p> <h4>Snail Mail</h4> <p>It&#39;s really hard to know right now if the government is <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/04/AR2007010401702.html">reading your snail mail</a>, and we don&#39;t know quite enough yet to determine if your mail has been <a href="http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=962453">tampered</a> with. Because Congress is finally growing a pair and taking the President to task for trampling all over our citizen&#39;s liberties, we&#39;ll just have to see <a href="http://www.usps.com/communications/news/security/mailtampering.htm">how this one plays out.</a></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/free-ways-to-keep-big-brother-out-of-your-bidness">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/hack-a-mac">Hack a Mac!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/boost-your-computers-ram-in-seconds-very-easy">Boost your computer&#039;s RAM in seconds. Very easy.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-powerful-ways-to-protect-your-money-from-cyber-theft">6 Powerful Ways to Protect Your Money From Cyber Theft</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-silly-internet-mistakes-you-need-to-stop-making-today">10 Silly Internet Mistakes You Need to Stop Making Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-affordable-ways-to-deter-burglars">6 Affordable Ways to Deter Burglars</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks cell phones communication privacy computer Constitution fbi Fourth Amendment Internet Mafia network NSA paranoid phone tapping spy surveillance technology United States Postal Service warrantless warrantless mail opening wireless Fri, 02 Mar 2007 00:41:35 +0000 Andrea Karim 312 at http://www.wisebread.com