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CostHelper > Blog

10 Reasons to Shop Small Business Saturday on Nov. 24
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted November 6 2018

After the retail insanity of Black Friday, consider checking out locally-owned companies on Saturday, Nov. 24. It's Small Business Saturday, created by American Express in 2010 to celebrate and support small stores and services nationwide on the Saturday after Thanksgiving...


Secret Stoners Take Advantage of Vaporizer Trend
By Ruth Schneider || Posted December 19 2013

Pipes and joints are so last year, dude. The new toys among stoners are handheld, pocket-size, battery-powered vaporizers.

A recent article in the New York Post examined the influx of professionals partaking in the herb...


Pet Jerky Treats Causing Illness, Fatalities
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted December 17 2013

Rewarding your dog or cat with pet jerky treats could be a mistake -- one that could be fatal for your pet.

In the past five years, more than 3,600 US dogs and about 10 US cats have become ill after eating jerky treats, with about 580 deaths...


Mega Millions Hits $636 Million: Is Now The Best Time to Play?
By Ed Lee || Posted December 14 2013

Update [Dec 18 2013]: Two tickets won the $636 million Mega Millions jackpot on Tuesday -- one ticket was sold at Jennifer's Gift Shop on Tully Road in San Jose, CA; the other was sold at Gateway Newstands on Lenox Road in Atlanta, GA. Each winning jackpot will get half the pot, or $318 million...


3 Ways to Have the Government Pay You Back for Your Energy Efficient Upgrades
By Ruth Schneider || Posted December 9 2013

Any renovations or upgrades made to your home this year that included energy-efficient appliances could be eligible for some federal energy tax credits. But it's not just appliances. If you installed more energy efficient windows or doors this year, you could also be eligible...


Just For Men: Delivery Man Highlights Profitability of Sperm Donation
By Ruth Schneider || Posted December 6 2013

It's all about those little swimmers...


OxyElite Pro Diet Pills Recalled After Links to Liver Failure, Death
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted December 4 2013

For the second time this year, diet pills produced by USPLabs of Texas have been linked to illness and death, and the company has agreed to recall and destroy all of its supplies of those products...


Will Yours be the 1-in-10 Shipped Package That Arrives Damaged?
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted December 3 2013

Dozens of Amazon customers were disappointed in mid-November when the long-awaited PlayStation 4 game consoles they had pre-ordered finally came, but their units were dead-on-arrival due to shipping damage...


How Much Do Professionally Installed Holiday Lights for Your Home Cost?
By Ruth Schneider || Posted December 1 2013

A family from Australia are new Guinness World Record Holders after stringing roughly 31 miles of holiday lights around their home -- more than half a million individual, flickering lights. There are 502,165 lights to be precise. Plus, of course, one Guinness World Record plaque...


8 Ways to Make the Most of Cyber Monday
By Ruth Schneider || Posted November 29 2013

If you are anything like me, Black Friday is not the big shopping day of the year. It's three days later, when lazy people get deals through mouse clicks...


Everything-agram: 5 Ways to Bring Instagram Photos to Life
By Ruth Schneider || Posted November 28 2013

With more than 150 million monthly users, Instragram -- a photo sharing app -- is one of the most-used social media platforms in existence. To put it more bluntly: That's a lot of photos...


Want to Drive the Batmobile to Work? It's Up for Auction
By Ruth Schneider || Posted November 27 2013

A street-legal Batmobile is hitting a UK auction block Nov. 30, and who wouldn't want to drive that?

Originally used in 1989's "Batman Returns," the Batmobile is expected to draw £70,000-£90,000 (that's $113,000-$145,000 in US dollars)...


10 Key Ways to Prepare for Extreme Snow
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted November 26 2013

Forecasters are predicting a true nor'easter will hit the eastern and central states with rain, thunderstorms, ice, snow and high winds over the Thanksgiving weekend. It's crucial to plan ahead, before bad weather hits...


6 Tips for When Bad Weather Grounds Your Flight
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted November 25 2013

The storms that recently slammed through 10 Midwestern states grounded hundreds of airline flights in that region, and also created long delays for flights on both coasts...


7 Top Toys Your Kids (and You) Need to Play With This Holiday Season
By Ruth Schneider || Posted November 25 2013

Guess who's back again? It's Elmo.

This year, Elmo -- this time a "hug me" version, not a "tickle me" one -- is hyped to be a big seller.

Let's take a look at what could be some of this year's top toys:

1. Big Hugs ElmoAs I mentioned, he's back. He's red, he's furry, he's lovable...


Made in USA Labels Might Be Stretching the Truth
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted November 24 2013

It seems pretty simple: If you prefer to buy American-made products, then read the labels, packaging and advertisements, and purchase only items that say "Made in the USA" or something similar...


10 Most Popular Cosmetic Procedures Before the Holidays
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted November 23 2013

With reunions and other get-togethers scheduled during the holiday season, most people want to look their best at this time of year. For some, that means filling in those wrinkles with a bit of botox, or having a nip and tuck down here and there.

I'm a bit chicken myself, but I am curious...


10 Things You Didn't Know About the World's Most Hyped Line of Shoes: Air Jordans
By Ruth Schneider || Posted November 22 2013

Before the Air Jordans, sneakers were not a fashion statement. Sneakers were comfortable and, generally, low-cost footwear. These days, your Jordans are your statement. Kids, like my 20-year-old son, have closets full of kicks that are paired with specific T-shirts, caps, and even socks...


Your Rented Computer Might Have Spied On You
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted November 21 2013

Apparently the folks at the NSA aren't the only ones we have to worry about spying on us...


Want to Hire Someone to Shop For You on Black Friday? Try Craigslist
By Ruth Schneider || Posted November 20 2013

Tis the season for shopping.

With the barrage of deals on TV commercials and in newspaper advertisements hitting us this holiday season, there are probably a couple deals you don't want to pass up...


Flash Mob Thieves Target Retailers Amid Holiday Shopping Fervor
By Ruth Schneider || Posted November 20 2013

Flash mobs used to be entertaining. Now, in some cases it's become a criminal act that's increasingly concerning retailers...


5 Important Things to Know Before a Tornado Hits
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted November 19 2013

This week the Midwest has been battered by tornados, which are one of the most violent and destructive type of storms nature has in its arsenal...


10 Quick and Inexpensive Home Makeover Projects To Do Before Holiday Guests Arrive
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted November 18 2013

Having friends and family gather for the holidays is traditionally considered a heartwarming idea -- but the mere thought of it can also be heart-stopping if they're planning on staying at your place, and you realize your home is looking less than its stylish best...


DNA Testing of Herbal Supplements Reveals Contamination, Substitution
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted November 17 2013

It turns out that the ingredients listed on the label of your herbal supplement might not be exactly what's inside the pills or capsules that you're swallowing.

The vitamin and herbal supplement industry takes in an estimated $5 billion a year in the US, and more than $60 billion worldwide...


Play With New Legos, Video Games and Jewelry Every Month With Netflix-Like Subscriptions
By Ruth Schneider || Posted November 16 2013

Netflix is no longer just a DVD service -- it's practically a business model. There are now a handful of companies that offer services or products to rent through the mail. Like Netflix, when you send the rentals back, more is sent to your door...


8 Ways to Get Free Music, Legally
By Ruth Schneider || Posted November 15 2013

Being a music nut is a seriously expensive habit.

I personally limit myself to one or two new songs from iTunes each month. But I haven't limited myself to Apple's music library. Honestly, I've found it rather lacking in some areas...


Amazon, Post Office Cement Deal for Sunday Deliveries
By Ruth Schneider || Posted November 14 2013

If you see your letter carrier walking around on Sundays later this month, you are not hallucinating. Nor is this an aberration. It's a new deal between Amazon and the US Postal Service that begins Nov. 17 in selected cities.

Yep, Sunday deliveries. Just in time for the holidays...


FDA Takes Aim at Trans Fats
By Ruth Schneider || Posted November 14 2013

The Food and Drug Administration took steps this month to ban trans fats, a move that could prevent up to 7,000 deaths each year.

The FDA proposal would define partially hydrogenated oil -- the source of trans fats -- as an unsafe additive...


4 Ways to Help Philippines Typhoon Victims Without Getting Scammed
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted November 13 2013

The devastating images of the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan (also called Yolanda) in the Philippines are prompting many people to donate to relief efforts. And, in all probability, the heart-wrenching crisis is likely to prompt others to set up bogus appeals for help...


Power Outage Survival Guide
By Ruth Schneider || Posted November 12 2013

Winter is coming. As the storms blow in, homes and businesses deal with the annual ups and downs of power outages.

Here are a few do's to keep in mind.

Do keep flashlights around the house and plenty of batteries...


7 Fireplace and Wood Stove Safety Steps To Do This Week
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted November 12 2013

Gathering around a wood stove or fireplace on a cold winter night can be wonderful experience, but it's crucial to not take basic safety for granted...


7 Ways to Stretch Your Reduced Food Budget
By Ruth Schneider || Posted November 11 2013

End of the year budgets are tight for everyone, especially in this economy.

It's especially hard for the millions of Americans who depend on government programs like food stamps to help make ends meet...


Save Money on Coffee. Make it at Home
By Ruth Schneider || Posted November 11 2013

Coffee beans are cheap. And they are getting cheaper.

But don't expect your morning latte to be any less expensive -- unless you brew it at home.

Arabica beans are trading at a five-year low, according to the International Coffee Organization...


10 Gadgets You Want to Unwrap This Year
By Ruth Schneider || Posted November 10 2013

The holiday season is on us. Chanukah comes extra early this year, with the first night the day before Thanksgiving. Then there's Black Friday and a few short weeks later, it's Christmas...


Still Want to Try a Tesla Model S? Rent It
By Ruth Schneider || Posted November 9 2013

Despite the recent spate of fires -- three in the past six weeks -- Consumer Reports named the Tesla Model S the top performing car of the year...


Bitcoins 101: What You Need to Know About the Virtual Currency
By Ruth Schneider || Posted November 8 2013

Whether you know it or not, you could be heading to an ATM in a few years to pull out bitcoins rather than those plain, old, American greenbacks.

What the heck are bitcoins, anyway?

Well, it's an online currency...


5 Strategies for Healthier Smiles Without Dental Insurance
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted November 7 2013

Dental costs can be staggering: $20-$250 for X-Rays; $75-$200 for a standard teeth cleaning; $50-$450 to fill a cavity; $500-$3,000 for a crown; $75-$3,000 for tooth extractions; and $15,000-$80,000 or more for a full mouth reconstruction...


With the High Cost of Modern Dentistry, Can You Afford That Great Smile?
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted November 7 2013

Everyone wants good teeth, and a nice smile. But can we all afford it?

"My mouth looks awful and I'm embarrassed," writes a CostHelper reader from La Mesa, CA, who is seeking a set of false teeth, but has no dental or health insurance...


You Aren't Getting Bigger, Airline Seats Really Are Getting Smaller
By Ruth Schneider || Posted November 6 2013

If you felt a bit squeezed on your last flight, you are not alone.

During the past decade, airlines have been expanding luxury and business class seating to lure extra dollars out of customers. Meanwhile, the available space is shrinking in the back of the plane...


Amazon Increases Minimum Purchase for Free Shipping to $35
By Ruth Schneider || Posted November 5 2013

Amazon happily splashes new Kindle models across its home page. It's a little sneakier about changes that hit closer to the wallet.

Like the announcement that the Super Saver Shipping minimum purchase increased to $35...


Beat Bad Customer Service By Being More Stubborn Than Them
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted November 5 2013

When dealing with a less-than-helpful customer service representative, consider turning into a broken record.

"I understand that is company policy, but I'm not giving up until .....


Free Admission to Parks, Forests This Weekend
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted November 4 2013

Veterans Day is Monday, Nov. 11, and to honor those who have served their country, entry fees are being waived for everyone (not just vets) at national parks and forests, and at some state parks...


The 4-1-1 on Flu Shots
By Ruth Schneider || Posted November 4 2013

There are 13 different CDC-approved flu shots available this year. Do you know which one is right for you?

To be fair, one is actually an inhaled spray, not a shot, but it is one of the choices. It's restricted to people between the ages of 2 and 49...


TSA is Sharing Your Travel Plans with Debt Collectors
By Ruth Schneider || Posted November 3 2013

TSA, NSA, FBI it feels like the world's acronyms are digging into our personal lives in ways that are starting to feel a little too personal...


Hey NFL, Don't Patronize Female Football Fans
By Ruth Schneider || Posted November 3 2013

Dear NFL,

I spotted your recent 16-page advertising insert, "A Savvy Girl's Guide to Football," in the recent issue of Marie Claire, and I commend your efforts to reach out to a broader audience...


Instagram Is a Growing Marketplace for #GunsForSale, #PillsForSale
By Ruth Schneider || Posted November 2 2013

Instagram is known for selfies, sunsets and photos of what you ate for dinner last night.

But it's also one of the world's largest online marketplaces -- a giant garage sale of goods ...


7 Chipotle Hacks To Get Your Perfect Burrito Bowl
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted November 1 2013

Whether the goal is the most bang for the buck or staying on a specific diet while dining out, consumers are excited about the possibilities offered by the versatile burrito bowls at the Tex-Mex-style Chipotle Mexican Grill fast food chain -- and people are proudly sharing their favorite tricks o...


8 Money-back Guarantees You Need to Know About
By Ruth Schneider || Posted October 31 2013

Most things in life do not come with money-back guarantees -- children, employment, even spouses. Who knows what will happen in life? But manufacturers are trying to please us and they are making promises about their products, so we can be sure we aren't wasting money...


Black Thursday is the New Black Friday
By Ruth Schneider || Posted October 30 2013

It's not even November yet -- heck, it's not even Halloween -- but major retailers are already giddy about Black Friday. So giddy, a number of stores already announced they plan to be open on Thanksgiving Day...


10 Things You Never Knew You Could Do With A Pumpkin
By Ruth Schneider || Posted October 29 2013

Halloween is just a few days away. This means we're at the height of pumpkin season, but did you know there is much more you can do besides carve a jack-o-lantern?

1. Pumpkin kegIs there a better way to serve drinks at a Halloween party than tapping a pumpkin? I doubt it...


The 4-1-1 on Buying Firewood
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted October 28 2013

If you're hoping to curl up in front of your blazing fireplace during the coming cold winter months, you may need to stock up on firewood. Here is a quick guide to the firewood-buying process.

The Drier the BetterAll firewood contains some water...


Everything I Know About Tipping I Learned From Sex Workers
By Ruth Schneider || Posted October 27 2013

A former sex worker friend of mine has a proverb: "Hookers are the best tippers." She said sex workers know better than anyone what tips mean to a member of the workforce: A basic living wage...


Our Top 10 Favorite Secret Menu Items
By Ruth Schneider || Posted October 25 2013

Don't believe everything you read. Those menus posted at your favorite fast food spot or coffee stand are not the be all and end all of their offerings. There are secret menu items -- hidden deals and delights that you should know about, but that you won't find advertised.



Smart Household Thermostats Can Talk, Learn
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted October 24 2013

The lowly thermostat is the latest household device to undergo a high-tech makeover. Offering the promise of increased energy efficiency and control, here are three models that are spearheading thermostats' evolution into much more than just a simple box.



"Free" iPad Game Costs Parents $3,000
By Ruth Schneider || Posted October 23 2013

Do you let your child play with your tablet or smartphone? Did you know that inside some games are power-ups and special items that cost real money, even if the game itself was free to download? They're called in-app purchases and they can cost you a bundle if you aren't careful...


Kim Kardashian Wants You to Come to Her Birthday Party
By Ruth Schneider || Posted October 22 2013

Kim Kardashian is celebrating her 33rd birthday in Vegas and she's invited you.

If you don't follow her on Instagram, you might have missed the invitation. It just went out Oct. 14.

Her party is set for Oct. 25 at Tao, a nightclub in the Venetian Hotel on the Strip...


7 Lesser-Known Discounts for the 50+ Crowd
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted October 21 2013

As they age, members of the Baby Boomer generation don't like to admit that they're senior citizens, but they love getting discounts. It's kind of a quandary, because some of the best deals available are reduced prices for older folks...


Girl Scout Cookies Marijuana Selling for $5,000 a Pound
By Ruth Schneider || Posted October 18 2013

Would you like to smoke some Peyton Manning? Or, would you prefer to spark up some Girl Scout Cookies?

Marijuana growers and venders are getting creative with the highly recognizable names they give different strains of weed, without the permission of the people who own those names...


GR8. Now Debt Collectors Are Texting
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted October 17 2013

Collection agencies are now pursuing debtors in 160 characters or less -- by texting them...


Potentially Tainted Chicken Still on Supermarket Shelves
By Ruth Schneider || Posted October 16 2013

Salmonella poisoning has sickened more than 300 people in 17 states since March.

But the USDA will not force a recall of the chicken that is causing the illness. In fact, many stores are still selling it...


10 Reasons Why Obamacare Should Have Been Planned By a Software Architect
By Ed Lee || Posted October 15 2013

When the Affordable Care Act health exchanges rolled out on Oct. 1, we tried to sign up for a small business plan on the Covered California site, but like millions of other Americans, we were met with frustration...


If You Put Food on a Credit Card During EBT Outage, Ask to Switch Charges
By Ruth Schneider || Posted October 14 2013

Millions of Americans experienced moments, if not hours, of panic after a computer glitch shut down the food stamp system in 17 states on Saturday.

The Department of Agriculture, which oversees the program, said the glitch was not a result of the national government shutdown...


7 Tricks To Make Home Appliances Last Longer
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted October 14 2013

Give your household equipment a little workout now and then, to make sure anything mechanical will perform well when needed. Periodic exercise can extend the usable life of many items...


Irish Engineers Developing iPhone App to Brew Beer
By Ruth Schneider || Posted October 12 2013

Leave it to the Irish to come up with a way to brew beer at home with the help of a smartphone.

Meet the BrewBot, the next at-home beer-making buddy...


How Much Will Nobel Prize Winners Be Taking to the Bank?
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted October 11 2013

The 2013 Nobel Prize winners are being announced this week, with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) being announced this morning as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize...


World Series of Snack Bars: Which Baseball Park Has the Best Deals on Dogs and Drinks?
By Ruth Schneider || Posted October 10 2013

While I certainly won't pass up peanuts and Cracker Jacks, the staple of most baseball games these days are hot dogs and beer. Well, soda for the kids...


Top 10 Must-Have Zombie Prepper Supplies
By Ruth Schneider || Posted October 10 2013

"The Walking Dead" is back -- Season 4 starts this Sunday, Oct. 13. So it's a good time for CostHelper readers to get ready for the coming zombie apocalypse.

Even the Center for Disease Control is on board, providing a list of helpful tips for all types of emergencies including the undead...


Those Annoying Western Sky Commercials Are Gone. Here's Why.
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted October 9 2013

Daytime and late-night television addicts may have noticed the once-frequent television ads urging consumers to "get off the payday treadmill" by taking out a personal loan with Western Sky Financial are no longer airing...


Flashiest, Most Secure $100 Bill Ever Rolls Out Today
By Ruth Schneider || Posted October 8 2013

The new Benjamins have bling.

The Federal Reserve Board calls it introducing new security features to fight counterfeiting.

If you tilt the new $100 bills, which begin circulating today, the bell in the inkwell glitters a copper color. (That looks like bling to me...


Air bags: Will They Be There When You Need Them?
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted October 7 2013

Most drivers assume their vehicle's air bags are in place and will deploy as needed, but that's not necessarily true, especially if the car was bought used or repaired by an unfamiliar shop after an accident where the air bag deployed...


And the Best Bacon Is...
By Ruth Schneider || Posted October 5 2013

This little piggy went to market.

After that, Consumer Reports bought samples and tasted to determine which little piggy offered the best bacon.

Top honors go to Costco, it turns out. For $14, you can buy four pounds of bacon that Consumer Reports said was the only "excellent" brand...


Need a Dream Job? NASA Paying $18,000 To Stay In Bed
By Ruth Schneider || Posted October 4 2013

Want to lie around all day, every day for more than two months and still get paid for it? Well, NASA has the job for you.

For people willing to spend 70 days in bed, NASA is willing to pay $18,000...


10 Ways to Prepare for the Next Major Storm
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted October 3 2013

Storms and tornadoes hit the Midwest this past weekend, after a difficult year where flooding in Colorado left eight people dead.

These are sharp reminders that storms are a powerful force. Here are 10 ways to plan ahead to minimize the risk and damage from rainstorms and flooding.



Gas Price Forecast: Less Pain at the Pump Expected
By Ruth Schneider || Posted October 2 2013

Finally, we've reached the portion of the year where gas prices traditionally start to decline. This year might be especially generous to drivers, with prices expected to hit the elusive $3-mark by the end of October...


Retired LGBT Couples Can Now Apply for Social Security Spousal Benefits
By Ruth Schneider || Posted October 1 2013

The Social Security Administration is inviting retirement-age same-sex married couples and domestic partners to apply for spousal benefits...


Fix-it Favorites: Duct Tape and WD-40
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted September 30 2013

My mother taught me that all home fixit-projects can be accomplished with either duct tape or WD-40. If something shouldn't move and it does, use duct tape. If something should move and it doesn't, use WD-40.

That's an over-simplification, but it contains a fair amount of truth...


10 Tips for Building the Best Legoland Adventure
By Ruth Schneider || Posted September 28 2013

If you are planning a mid-winter getaway, one unique family-friendly destination is Legoland -- and with locations in Florida and California it's available to folks on both coasts. It's a brick-lovers paradise...


How Much Would Grand Theft Auto V Crimes Cost In Real Life?
By Ruth Schneider || Posted September 27 2013

In an ironic twist, fans of Grand Theft Auto V are committing actual crimes to get their hands on a copy of the video game. That could be more expensive than the game itself.

Online content (and multiplayer action) launches Oct. 1, two weeks after the video game hit store shelves...


Don't Fall for Obamacare Phone Scams
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted September 26 2013

The Federal Trade Commission says phone scammers are the only ones calling people about Obamacare -- and the FTC wants to know when you hear from them...


Sarah Silverman Wears $110 Dress to Emmys
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted September 25 2013

Comedian Sarah Silverman struck a blow for affordable fashion at this year's Emmy Awards when she strutted on the red carpet in a stunning little black dress that she told reporters she bought online for $60 from Stop Staring Clothing...


College Textbooks Don't Have to Empty Your Mom's Savings Account
By Ruth Schneider || Posted September 24 2013

Another school year has started, and for college students it's time for the quarterly ritual that drains accounts faster than any other expense: Buying books.

Since 1978, the cost of books has increased a jaw-dropping 812%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics...


Fight Flu Bugs With Humidity
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted September 23 2013

Want to avoid encouraging flu bugs to flourish? Keep a bit of moisture in the household air.

Flu season peaks in cold weather, when people tend to spend more time indoors. Many homes, offices and other buildings in the United States are warmed with a dry heat source...


10 Highs and Lows to Watch for in the Breaking Bad Auction
By Ruth Schneider || Posted September 22 2013

After five years, Walter White's meth-induced hit life is coming to a close. The series "Breaking Bad" concludes Sept 29. For fans of the show, the fun doesn't have to end. ScreenBid is auctioning off more than 200 items from the show, all of which are guaranteed by Sony Pictures...


Is Convenience Worth Paying a Little Extra?
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted September 20 2013

It's near the end of a long day, it's hot, you're tired and the car won't start because the battery is dead. What to do?

If you're like a gradually increasing number of CostHelper readers, you'll pay your roadside assistance service to install a new battery right then and there...


No Discount Card? Don't Forget Jenny's Number
By Ruth Schneider || Posted September 19 2013

Standing in line to pay for groceries in an unfamiliar grocery store, you realize they have discount card savings programs. You don't have a card. And because you don't know when you'll be shopping here again, signing up to get a few cents off doesn't feel like it's worth the effort...


Top 7 Ways to Trim Pet Expenses
By Ruth Schneider || Posted September 18 2013

Pets, for many, are part of the family; another member that needs love, feeding and treatment, just like anyone else in the household...


The 80s Are Back: Finally Conquer That Classic Arcade Game
By Ruth Schneider || Posted September 17 2013

Oldies but goodies are back. In the world of retro gaming, that is.

And plenty of folks are cashing in on the trend.

Retro trend-setter Urban Outfitters sells old-school gaming consoles for new school kids with cash to burn...


10 Tips to Avoid Hospital Bill Rip-Offs
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted September 16 2013

When it comes to hospital bills, it pays to question everything. There are no firm figures available, but some industry experts estimate that there are errors in 40% to 80% of all medical bills. Even at 40%, that's a high error rate; 80% is astounding...


Distilleries Cash in on Moonshine Buzz
By Ruth Schneider || Posted September 13 2013

I spotted jar after jar of moonshine on a recent trip to Costco. That, in itself, seemed wrong. In the same way the phrase "legal moonshine" seems wrong. The two words shouldn't be next to each other, let alone in the same sentence...


7 Must-Have Tailgating Toys
By Ruth Schneider || Posted September 12 2013

Tailgating is an art form these days -- and a crazy one at that. There is an entire industry that caters to die-hard sports fans, providing all the comforts of home in a parking lot setting...


Epic Game Console Showdown: PS4 vs. Xbox One
By Ruth Schneider || Posted September 12 2013

There is a lot of hype surrounding the next generation of game console wars. This year's contenders are Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4...


Plan Ahead to Save: Prep for Winter Now
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted September 11 2013

It's only September, but this a good time to think about how to save money this winter. There are lots of projects that can be done now that will pay off when things get colder...


Apple iPhones Dial in New Colors, Fingerprint Scanners
By Ruth Schneider || Posted September 10 2013

It was a busy morning in Silicon Valley, as Apple announced major changes in its popular line of phones. Get ready to say good-bye to iPhone 5. Yes, already.

"In the past, when we've launched a new iPhone, we lowered the cost of the old iPhone, making it more accessible to new people...


When Stainless Steel Is Only a Look
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted September 9 2013

Silver Mist. Stainless Platinum. Titanium. Slate. Stainless Satina. Cosmetallic.

Sound exotic? Those are all appliance color names -- the finishes available on refrigerators, ranges, microwaves, dishwashers, washer or dryers...


Reminder: Free Mammograms are a Call Away
By Ruth Schneider || Posted September 5 2013

Mammograms, like it or not, are a fact of life for women after 40. For many, even earlier.

One CostHelper reader points out that a lack of funds does not need to be a stumbling block. She points out there are often free mammogram services available women who do not have health insurance...


Boo! Don't Get Scared by Halloween Store Prices
By Ruth Schneider || Posted September 4 2013

Some people call me morbid. I call it a playful realism about human life expectancy. Either way, as soon as the local Halloween stores open, I'm in there checking out the inventory...


School Lunches: Is It Better to Pack or Pay?
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted September 3 2013

With the start of school, what to do about lunches is just one of the many decisions parents have to make.

For eligible low-income families, public school lunches are free or cost about 40 cents. Other public school students typically pay about $1.75-$3, depending on location...


Pro Tip: Used Rental Bicycles Are A Good Deal
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted August 30 2013

Bicycle rental companies usually want to keep their fleet of available machines up-to-date, which can result in great deals for consumers shopping for high-quality bicycles at discounted prices...


Student Loans: Who Benefits Under New Rules?
By Ruth Schneider || Posted August 27 2013

A law cutting interest rates on student loans to the lowest level in years received President Barack Obama's signature August 9.

So who benefits from the new rules and what are the catches?

Well, for starters, if you are already paying student loans back, you can stop reading now...


Manning's Medical Bills: How Much Will it Cost to Become Chelsea?
By Ruth Schneider || Posted August 26 2013

Bradley is now named Chelsea.

"As I transition to the next stage of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am now female," she wrote in a public statement, explaining her desire to transition from male to female...


How to Survive School Uniforms
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted August 21 2013

This July, soaring temperatures in Cardiff, Wales, prompted 17 schoolboys to add an unusual item to their summer school uniforms: they wore black skirts to protest a strict uniform policy banning shorts, even in hot weather...


Your Library Card is Your Ticket to Free Streaming Videos
By Ruth Schneider || Posted August 12 2013

Move over, Netflix and Hulu Plus. There's a new video-streaming source in town -- and its offerings are free...


Serial Dine-and-Dasher Outed on Facebook
By Ruth Schneider || Posted August 9 2013

Plenty of folks use social media to rant. In fact, for people in the food service industry, venting about the job is par for the course.

Remember the Applebee's waitress who posted a receipt on Reddit from a pastor who wrote, "I give God 10%...


Forgotten Expenses In a Home Addition Budget
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted August 5 2013

Items like construction costs, permit fees or debris removal aren't the only expenses to consider when calculating the total costs of a home remodeling project...


Ouch! Employer's Healthcare Changes Hurt Reader
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted August 3 2013

A CostHelper reader in New Hampshire recently had knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, and afterward was shocked to discover the deductible on the employer-provided health plan had jumped to $4,000 shortly before the operation...


Upgrade Wars: Who Benefits from New Smartphone Plans?
By Ruth Schneider || Posted August 3 2013

Two years can seem like a long time in the life of a smartphone. Now, three major cell phone providers are cashing in on consumers' desire for that new, shiny smartphone by offering opportunities to upgrade sooner.

But, of course, it comes at a price...


An Extended Warranty By Any Other Name
By Patricia Lynn Henley || Posted August 3 2013

A number of electronics and appliance retailers are no longer selling extended warranties; now, they're hawking plans for "extended protection" or "extended service."

I can't help it. "Extended protection" makes me think of gangsters offering to keep me safe...


No Attorney Needed: Some Legal Filings Can Be DIY
By Ruth Schneider || Posted August 3 2013

A CostHelper reader in California who was recently working on cleaning up his record noted, "you do not need an expensive attorney for a DUI expungement."

It is possible for individuals to remove felonies or misdemeanors from their legal records on their own, rather than hiring a lawyer...


Welcome to the CostHelper Blog
By Ed Lee || Posted August 3 2013

Seven years ago, we launched with the vision of helping people find the right product at a fair price, with our unique approach of combining research by experienced journalists with users' comments of how much they're really paying...


Today's Featured Cost Articles

Cars: SUVs, Pickups, Compacts and More
Electronics: Tablets, Game Consoles, TVs and More
Appliances: Washers, Dryers, Coffee Makers and More