13 Hobbies You Can Start for Free

Clearly, some hobbies are more expensive than others. For example, when I was an ultralight backpacker I paid $225 for a half-zipper, 800-fill down sleeping bag that weighs just 17 ounces. To keep my total pack weight under 12 pounds on multi-day hikes I also had to splurge for a high-tech 13-ounce backpack and a 16-ounce silicone-impregnated tarp. Fortunately not…
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8 Free Things That Are Not Really Free

Free should mean without cost, right? But the word is used rather loosely at times. Sometimes "free" things are not really free. For example, some things are free only if you're very careful, like "free" checking accounts that come with difficult-to-avoid fees and/or tricky and hidden requirements. Consider the M&T Bank fiasco. When 59,000 of their "free checking" customers failed…
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Black Friday Is Dead — Or How I Spent $10 on Black Thursday

Thanksgiving is a time of gratefulness, at least in theory. But how grateful are we for what we have if we feel the need to go out and buy so much more a few hours later on Black Friday? Thank you universe (atheist version) for all you have given but it's just not enough. Of course now we don't even…
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This Guy Has 1,497! — How Many Credit Cards Do You Need?

ABC News reports that Walter Cavanagh has 1,497 credit cards, with a total credit line of $ million. Sometime in the late 1960s he and a friend bet a dinner on who could get the most cards by year's end. Cavanagh won with 143, and then he continued with his new hobby (obsession?). By 1971, and every year since, he's…
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Does a Higher Price Mean Higher Quality?

When my wife and I had new friends over for dinner they brought wine that costs about $16 per bottle. Since we normally buy wine for $3 to $6 I looked forward to popping the cork on their gift. Sadly, it was worse than our usual cheap stuff. Apparently our experience is not unusual. One study involving 6,000 blind tastings of wines…
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Is This the Best Travel Credit Card?

I just got enough points for two plane tickets anywhere in the US by putting a few purchases on a credit card. I'll get back to that in a moment. There are a lot travel credit cards out there, but which are the best overall is something to be determined individually. After all, travel preferences, spending habits, and which airlines…
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Are Cash-Back Websites Worth the Trouble?

The concept of a cash-back shopping website is simple enough. Merchants pay a website an affiliate commission for any sales referred to them, and the website gives you part of that commission. For example, you use their link to visit Best Buy online, and you buy a $300 tablet. The website gets a commission of $12 (4 percent) and gives…
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