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4 Items To Always Buy Used

These used items can save you big money!

Buying second hand has become a first choice for saving money, either out of necessity for people or because they're thrifty. But second hand doesn't have to necessarily mean rummaging around a musty old thrift store.

Here are 4 items you can shop for used online from the comfort of your own home, so you can pop some virtual tags like Macklemore.

Gently used clothing

Men's dress clothes are a great buy at thrift shops. They're usually in fantastic shape because few men dress up for work anymore. Instead, today's standard office outfit usually includes khaki pants and a golf shirt.

The flipside of that is you probably won't find good men's casual clothing at a thrift shop because guys tend to wear their casual clothes until they're threadbare.

Women, however, usually cycle through clothes more quickly and you can find some good outfits used.

If you're looking for children's clothing, try You can buy everything from 12 months to size 20 at discounts up to 80% off retail—all without leaving your home to go to a thrift store!

You may also want to check out, which is like an eBay of sorts for Goodwills from across the country.

If you want the best deals, find a thrift store that sells by the pound. Typical prices might include clothes, shoes, and purses for $1.49 a pound and tools and toys for a $1.29 pound.


Pre-owned gift cards

I know it sounds weird to think of buying a "used" gift card; "pre-owned" is probably a better term. There's a whole resale market for cards that other people have gotten as gifts that they either can't or don't want to use.

Websites like,,, and offer a way to unload those unloved gift cards for a small profit.

Each of these websites sells gift cards at up to 30% off their face value. The cards are typically guaranteed to work for up 180 days after purchase, though you should check the individual website's policy to confirm.

Still not convinced you should buy pre-owned gift cards? Maybe this will sway you: Crooks are hitting those multi-vendor display racks at retail stores and emptying brand new cards of their value before you purchase them!

Old MP3s

If you're into cheap, legitimate music buying, there's an opportunity to snap up pre-owned digital music for as little as 49 cents per track. allows you to either buy used MP3s or sell the ones you've got that you no longer want. Because this is all digital, there's no loss of sound quality like there might be with a used CD, tape, or vinyl record.

ReDigi was shut down in 2013 when a federal judge said it violated copyright under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. But now they're back, having filed a new patent for "copy-less" digital transactions.

Used cars

Finding the right price when you're buying a new car is pretty easy. But finding the right price for a used car? Not so much…until now. lets you put in your zip code and the make/model of the pre-owned vehicle you're interested in at their website. Then they'll comb through some 2 million listings available on published databases and rate the vehicles available for sale with notations of "great price," "good price," "fair price," and on down.

This gives you the ability to find a price that is a diamond in the rough and to weed out what would be lousy deals. Another way to find a deal is to use, which has a 7-day no questions asked return policy. It's kind of like the Carmax of the online used car buying world.

Just remember price is only a part of the whole equation. Clark has a list of 4 key things you need to do when you're buying a used car.


Bonus tip: Used furniture

My buddy @Joel Larsgaard of has 3 tips to help you maximize your dollar when buying used furniture.

For further reading:   

7 Habits Of Financially Successful People

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Want to be financially successful?

Join the club!

You’ll need a lot of drive, knowledge, and dedication to manage your money well enough to develop financial security and independence, but the good news is that it’s completely possible  -- even if you weren’t born with a silver spoon in hand. (Editor's note: Read Clark talking about his "silver spoon plan" upbringing!)

The ever-popular personal finance book, The Millionaire Next Door, pointed out that most wealthy individuals in the United States are self-made. This means they earned their million dollars -- and you can, too.

It helps to start by understanding what makes financially successful people stand apart from those who have trouble managing their money. What do they do differently? How do they act with or think about money when they’re growing the value of their nest eggs?

While you’re busy building your own wealth, think about these 7 habits of financially successful people. And then consider how you can develop them for yourself.

They have a good relationship with money

"It will never rain roses: when we want to have more roses, we must plant more roses." – George Eliot

People who are financially successful are actively involved with their money and they understand what their assets are doing. They have budgets, they track spending, they ensure they regularly contribute to investments, and they plan ahead to avoid financial pitfalls. If a financially successful person runs into a roadblock, they work to solve the problem rather than ignoring it or blaming it on something else.

This is difficult to do if you have a bad attitude or relationship with finances. You can’t ignore your financial problems and hope they’ll go away on their own, or blame money for problems in other areas of your life. Work to erase your negative or inaccurate money scripts so you too can develop a good relationship with money. Keep a positive attitude and take personal responsibility for your financial situation (even if you’ve been dealt a tough hand).

They live frugally

"Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like" – Will Rogers

Looking rich and having wealth are two very different things.

Financially successful people don’t care about impressing other people with the stuff they own. They live well below their means so that they can invest their money and increase their wealth.

When money is invested, it can compound and continue to earn more money. Big houses, fancy cars, expensive clothing and jewelry, and the latest and greatest things and toys only eat away at your assets. They don’t provide anything in return for the money you had to exchange to acquire them -- not even lasting happiness.

They understand what their values are

"You will recognize your own path when you come upon it, because you will suddenly have all the energy and imagination you will ever need." – Jerry Gillies

That’s not to say financially successful people are cheap. They make sure to live beneath their means and save more than they spend -- but they still spend money. But it’s the way they spend it that makes all the difference.

They understand what matters to them. They’ve taken the time to discover their own values, dreams, and goals, and they use their money wisely. Every purchase is aligned with what they feel is important in life.c

Instead of worrying about what anyone else says you should spend money on, take the time to reflect on what you care about and keep your money habits tuned into these values. Don’t be pressured into spending that doesn’t further you on the path to your dreams and financial goals.

They look for positives (and learn from failure)

"When things go wrong, don't go with them." – Elvis Presley

Did you know negative thinking makes it more difficult to find creative solutions to the problems you may be facing? When you dwell on negative emotions, it causes you to narrow your focus and makes it difficult for you to see the big picture. Positive thinking, on the other hand, can make you more productive, motivated, and able to take on challenges because you’re not blinded by your own negativity.

Financially successful people tend to think positive, and they surround themselves with other positive people. They don’t dwell on what went wrong; instead they use failure or mistakes as a learning opportunity so they can do better next time.

They create their own opportunities

"If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door." – Milton Berle

Those who are financially successful don’t sit around and wait for good things to fall out of the sky. They don’t rely on luck or someone else to help them. They help themselves.

For you, this may mean making your own opportunities by earning more. You can negotiate for a raise, look for a new job, pick up part-time work, freelance or do consulting on the side, try a new career, or even start your own business.

This certainly takes hard work. But the end result is worth it. Take the initiative and then take charge of your own success.

They set goals

"If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else." – Yogi Berra

To be financially successful, you have to know where you’re going. That’s why people set goals and make plans for turning their dreams into realities. They develop an action plan. If you want to be financially successful, you need to sit down and come up with your personal set of goals. Without something to work for, you’ll find it difficult to take action and move in the right direction.

Ensure your goals are realistic and break big ones down into manageable pieces that you can work on in stages. Celebrate small victories and keep track of your progress.

They ask questions

"True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing." - Socrates

Asking questions and constantly growing their knowledge base is one of the most important habits of financially successful people.

If they don’t know something, they ask. If someone tells them, “this is the one right way to accomplish X, Y, and Z,” they go find a second (and third, and fourth) opinion so they can make an informed decision. If they come upon a problem, they research solutions to solve it.

In other words, they constantly seek to become more financially literate. And you should, too.

The world of personal finance is filled with methods, systems, ideas, and strategies for getting things done. We all share a common goal of building wealth and doing more with our money, but there are so many paths to getting there. Learning what others say, think, and do can help you in your own journey.

Don’t let a lack of financial education stop you from trying to develop better money management habits or from building wealth. Even the most financially successful people among us started somewhere. There are countless resources available to you -- and plenty of people who can help -- but you must ask questions to get started.

Kali Hawlk is a freelance writer and content manager currently working on building her business and becoming a full-time solopreneur. She's passionate about personal finance, careers and business, and all things Gen Y--and she writes about it all on her blog, Common Sense Millennial. An avid runner, she enjoys getting outside as often as possible when she's not immersed in blogging and helping other small businesses build and manage their online presence. Connect with her on Twitter @KaliHawlk.

4 Gas Credit Cards To Combat Rising Gas Prices

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According to AAA, as of July 2014, the national average for regular unleaded gasoline is 14 cents higher than it was a year ago, making it the highest summer average in the last six years.

But you probably don't need a statistic to know that! You see it at the pump everyday.

Whether you live in South Carolina (with the lowest gas prices) or Hawaii (the highest), one of the best ways to reduce the sting of high gas prices is to use a gas credit card. Using these cards will earn you rewards on your gas purchases and you can redeem those rewards for cash.

If you commute frequently, a gas card is definitely something you want to consider. The best gas credit cards are actually cash back credit cards. This means you should select a card that not only gives you points or a percentage back for your gas purchases, but also offers high rewards on non-gas purchases.

There are branded gas credit cards, but unless you always go to the same gas station, it's tough to get significant long-term value from these cards. The cash back cards can earn you the highest amount of rewards possible even if you use the card outside of a gas station.


What Makes a Good Gas Credit Card?

  • Offers 3-5% cash back on gas purchases
  • Offers 3-5% gas rewards in more than one quarter
  • Also offers 3-5% cash back for non-gas-related purchases
  • Can be used at any gas station
  • Bonuses and/or perks easily make up for the annual fee, if any

STORY: See 5 ways credit cards can improve your credit score

The Top 4 Gas Credit Cards

Blue Cash Preferred® from American Express

Gas Perks: The Blue Cash Preferred® from American Express is excellent for frequent drivers since it offers 3% cash back on gas purchases -- all year round. There is no cap on how much you can earn.

Other Perks: You get 3% cash back on select U.S. department stores and 6% cash back on groceries (with a $6,000 cap). All other purchases get you 1% back. When you sign up, you get $150 back after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months.

What else you should know: There is a $75 annual fee. However, the $150 sign-up bonus will cover you for two years, and the card will pay for itself in following years if you spend at least $50/week on groceries.

TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and Amex

Gas Perks: The TrueEarnings® card from Costco and Amex card will give you 3% cash back on up to $4,000 of gas purchases each year. After you reach the $4,000 limit, you get 1% back.

Other Perks: You also get 2% at restaurants and travel-related purchases, and 1% on all other purchases.

What else you should know: You need to be enrolled in Costco membership, which costs $55 every year (Executive Membership is $100). There is no additional annual fee with this card. Rewards are issued as a yearly coupon and is only redeemable at a U.S. Costco location for merchandise or cash. You receive your reward coupon in February and must use it by August of the same year.

PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa®

Gas Perks: The PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa® gives you five points for every dollar in gas purchases, which is equivalent to 5% cash back. There is no limit to how many points you can accrue.

Other Perks: Cardholders receive three points per dollar (3%) at supermarkets and one point per dollar (1%) on all other purchases.

What else you should know: There is no cap on the amount of points you can accumulate, but they do expire five years from the end of the month in which they were earned. In addition to getting cash back, you have the option to redeem points for rewards like hotels, airline travel, and car rentals. There is no annual fee, but you do have to join Pentagon Federal for $15.

Chase Freedom®

Gas Perks: You get 5% cash back on gas purchases, up to $1,500 spent quarterly, during Q1 (January-March) and Q3 (July-September). The rewards you gain never expire. Gas purchases made outside of the designated quarter or after you reach the $1,500 limit get you just 1% back.

Other Perks: The rotating quarterly categories for 2014 are as follows. The $1,500 cap applies to every quarter: Q1 (January 1 – March 31): Gas stations, movie theaters and Starbucks stores Q2 (April 1 – June 30): Restaurants and Lowe’s home improvement stores Q3 (July 1 – September 30): Gas stations and Kohl’s Q4 (October 1 – December 31):, and select department stores. Any other purchases get 1% cash back.

What else you should know: There is no annual fee. You earn a $100 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months.

Tips For Selecting The Best Gas Credit Card

1) Don’t select a credit card issued by specific gas station unless you are absolutely sure you’ll only pump gas at the affiliated station and you’ll spend enough to qualify for their highest rewards earning rates. Generally, though, people don’t want to be restricted to one gas station company. Gas station credit cards also do not offer cash back for other categories, such as groceries or shopping, which limits the amount of rewards you can earn over the year.

2) Always pay off your balance. If you don’t pay off your balance and start accruing interest, it will wipe out any benefit of earning cash back from a gas card.

3) Pair two cards together to maximize gas rewards. If your gas credit card has a cap on how much you can earn through gas purchases each year, or if the perk is only offered in certain quarters, pair that card with another rewards card that will give you 2% or more cash back for the remainder of your gas purchases.

For example, if you own the TrueEarnings® card from Costco and Amex and reach the $4,000-limit mark, the 3% cash back will go down to 1% for all gas purchases thereafter. So make the rest of your year’s gas purchases on, say, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, which gives you 2x points on all purchases.

You could also pair the Chase Freedom® with the Blue Cash Preferred® from American Express. This would ensure you'll always get 3% cash back on gas purchases with the Blue Cash (when the Freedom® doesn't have gas stations as a 5% category that quarter). During the six months the Freedom® has 5% cash back on gas stations, you use it until you hit your $1,500 limit for that quarter.

Mike Jelinek is a financial contributor for The Simple Dollar and head of content at He writes about personal finance topics, like credit cards, and finds the truth about a variety of products and services across different industries.

Free Internet Speed Test Available Online

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Every year, the Federal Communications Commission does an Internet speed test on the service being offered by your DSL or cable modem provider. Are you really getting the speed you're paying for?

It used to be very common in the past that you'd be promised something and seldom get anywhere close to the advertised speed. This year, however, is different.

The results of FCC testing
show over and over again that people are getting somewhere between 80% and 90% of the promised speed.

Ever tried to fire your ISP and gotten the runaround? You won't believe this story about Comcast.

Now, you are paying for 100% of your advertised you have every right to expect that speed. Obviously that's not the case if you're getting only 80% or 90% of what you're paying for. But this is more of a glass half full scenario. After all, it is an enormous improvement that you are getting close to what you have been promised by your Internet service provider (ISP).

Use this Internet speed test to see if you're getting less than promised

Only 2 ISPs were substantially much worse than they promised: Windstream, which offers phone and DSL in exurban and rural areas around the country, and Verizon, which particularly stunk it up in areas where they offer DSL instead of FiOS. In fact, Verizon got the worst rating in the most important standard in terms of delivering what you're paying for.

Of course, your results may vary and it can be different from place to place. But the good news is that, by and large, we're getting what’s been promised in big numbers now.

Warning: The nation's largest cable operator plans to stick it to customers who watch streaming video without a pay TV package.

The other good thing is if you're getting Internet service and it's too slow or your computer times out on you, you can very easily do an Internet speed test to confirm any suspicions you may have about *not* getting what you're paying for.

Just go to and follow their instructions to do a simple Internet speed test. The measurement you’re most interested in is download speed, unless you do a lot of uploading to the Internet.

The sad fact is that here in the United States we have some of the highest Internet prices and some of the slowest Internet service of just about any First World country. But that will change; it will just take time!

When Do You Need A Divorce Lawyer And When Don’t You?

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Have you heard about this trend accelerating around the country of people who get divorced without the help of a lawyer?

I read a stat that knocked me over: Three out of 4 divorces in California are done without a lawyer, according to The New York Times!

This is *not* an article or commercial I’m writing for you to go hire lawyer. But sometimes the law is best left to lawyers. As one family law specialist told The Times, attempting a DIY divorce is too often “like going to WebMD and deciding to treat yourself.” Other times, however, you could legitimately get by with a DIY divorce.

You probably need a divorce lawyer if…

Let me first address who might be served with no lawyer: Those who have no assets, no kids, and when it’s not a contentious divorce. The kind of people who say, 'You know what? This just didn't work out, so we're done.'

But what if there are kids? Then there’s no question; you need a lawyer when you have minor children. Because there’s always stuff that could come up that you wouldn't think about as non-lawyer, and it could have real implications for the welfare of your children.

If your marriage is ending, be sure to protect yourself from this financial unknown that could blindside you down the road.

You also always need a lawyer if either or both of you have significant assets, or if you have a retirement plan at work or away from the workplace. That's when you definitely hire a lawyer.

A divorce doesn't have to be expensive

Fortunately, there are lots of ways to reduce costs of hiring lawyer. There's something called collaborative divorce where each party has a lawyer but they agree not to slug it out in an adversarial way.

Everyone collaborates on doing a fair division of property and a streamlined easy settlement, but with the assistance of lawyers billing at lower total cost. One of the benefits of collaborative divorce is that it can be done without some of the emotional stuff that happens when you have combative divorce lawyer going at it and stirring everything up.

California is experimenting with one-day divorce school. My suspicion is that should help some people and make others realize, “Oh, maybe this wasn't a good idea to do by ourselves.”

Facing a divorce? The #1 tool divorce lawyers will use against you is something you probably do every day.

Then there's a crazy concept coming to the U.S. from Europe called the Divorce Hotel. Literally, the estranged couple checks into the hotel (in separate rooms) and stays in the hotel immersed in coming up with a settlement on an expedited basis. You work with a mediator and an independent divorce lawyer. The benefit is you eliminate any outside distractions at all and get your divorce and move on with your life.

Clearly, there are as many ways to dissolve a marriage as there are to get married. You have to know when and how to protect yourself.

How To Avoid Losing $100,000 In Retirement

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Employees of smaller companies will have $100,000 less in retirement than workers at bigger companies. But it's not for the reason you think…

A study done by found the average worker at a small company who invests in a 401(k) over a lifetime will lose $113,000 of that money. That's not because the wages might be smaller at a smaller employer. That's because the money goes down the drain to massive junk fees and expenses put on by the third party administrator of the small company's 401(k) plan.

Think about that. More than $100,000 less in retirement just because your employer isn't savvy in picking a 401(k) plan administrator!

Fortunately, you're not fated to lose $100,000 just because you work for a small employer

Here's my suggestion. If you are somebody would never save otherwise, I want you to save money in your employer's plan -- even with the crummy 401(k) administration.

But on the other hand, if you are a real self-motivated saver, I want you to look at the plan expenses and see if you can do better on your own.

The expenses on the average mutual fund are 1.25% per year. Yet if you're being charged more than six tenths of one percent (.60%), then they're ripping you off.

The funny thing is your employer probably doesn't even know they're getting ripped off by the plan administrator's fees. [By the way, if you are a small business owner looking for an affordable 401(k) plan to offer your employees, take a look at]

So if you are a motivated and dedicated saver who get the job of saving done on your own outside of a 401(k), my favorite starting point for you is the Charles Schwab U.S. Total Stock Mart ETF that charges only 0.04% per year. There are also plenty of options through Vanguard as low as 7 or 8 one hundredths of a percentage point. Just see my investment guide to get started.

If you are disciplined, I want you to set up your own Roth IRA and fund your retirement savings through it. If there is a company match, contribute only enough to the company plan to pick up the match. And then every extra penny you save for retirement goes to the Roth IRA.


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