Category Archives: Product Reviews

Getting Ready for a New iPhone? Here’s a Special Deal for Our Readers

iphone-5-press-650x0With rumors swirling that the launch of the new iPhone will be on Sept. 10, you probably think you still have some time to get rid of your old phone.

But what if I told you that waiting to get rid of it after the release would be a huge mistake – and that you should already be locking down a good rate for your old iPhone as soon as possible?

New data suggests that instead of waiting to sell your old iPhone, you should actually be locking in a higher sell price BEFORE the launch — and then using the proceeds to help fund the cost of your new iPhone.

Here’s how we know this is true. A few weeks ago, I examined hundreds of used iPhone sales on our uSell.com platform following the 2012 iPhone 5 launch, and aggregated this price depreciation data.  What I found was interesting. Old phones lose a great deal of value each week after the new iPhone launch – starting at just 7 days after the new product is announced:
*  1 week after a new iPhone launch, old iPhones lose about 5% in value.
*  2 weeks after launch, old iPhones depreciate about 12%.
*  By weeks 3 and 4, old phones are worth about 20% less.

So really, if you were to wait 3 weeks after the launch to get rid of your old phone, you’d be losing out on a nice chunk of change – because 20% adds up!

If you want to be an even savvier consumer, you could lock in a sale price before the iPhone launch, but then wait to ship your old phone until right after you get your new model.  (At uSell.com and other similar sites, we’ll give you 30 days to actually send in your old phone.)

So how much cash are we talking about?
* An iPhone 5 is potentially worth $72 more (compared to 3 weeks after
launch)
*  An iPhone 4S is worth $46 more
*  An iPhone 4 is worth $29 more

So why not take that extra cash and treat yourself to a fancy dinner, a new pair of jeans, or yes, another cool Apple product?

So don’t wait.  Go lock in a great price right now!

For more information on this and to get competitive bids your old iPhone, check out uSell.com.  As a special bonus for Five Ten Twenty Club readers, use coupon code FALL13 to get an extra $10 on your iPhone sale.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Nik Raman is Chief Operating Officer of uSell.com, an online marketplace that helps you sell your used electronics in 3 minutes or less through a network of professional buyers who competitively bid on your gadgets.  Nik is an expert on the used iPhone industry and helps create the user experience for uSell.com‘s smartphone marketplace.  Nik’s path in the “re-commerce” industry began as founder of EcoSquid in 2010, an electronics trade-in and recycling aggregator that uSell.com acquired in 2012.  He is a graduate of Harvard Business School.

A Cheap Trick to Defeat Mosquitoes

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-fan-image16724790Mosquitoes live in almost every warm part of the world, and during hot summers like ours, they become terrible as they bring bites and welts—and sometimes infectious diseases—to backyard barbeques. While the threat of mosquito-born malaria has largely been banished from the United States, other mosquito-born maladies like West Nile Virus and dengue fever have begun to appear in parts of our country. It’s no wonder then that there are many products available—from mosquito repellent coils to mosquito repellent outdoor lanterns—to help us avoid these buzzy summer spoilers.

With so many options to choose from, it’s hard to know which products will actually work and be worth your hard-earned money. Is it a $10 spray? A $15 candle? A $74 light? A $160 bug zapper?

None other than the NY Times has opined on this issue, and this time the American paper-of-record offered a skeptical look at mosquito repellents and instead recommended a cheap trick: a common fan.

It turns out that a fan repels mosquitoes for two reasons: 1) mosquitoes will avoid flying into strong breezes and 2) strong breezes disperse the human scents that normally attract mosquitoes.

These reasons make sense, and the effectiveness of a fan in deterring mosquitoes has been supported by research conducted by Michigan State University’s Department of Entomology.

So while DEET, picardin and lemon-eucalyptus oil are still considered to be among the most effective repellents, you might find that the cheapest way to enjoy being outside this summer is to point a couple of fans where you plan to be and enjoy the breeze!

 

What cheap ways do you use to avoid mosquitoes? Share your tips in our Community Forum or in the comments below!

For more information on mosquitoes, their flying speeds and habits and mosquito deterrents, please visit the American Mosquito Control Association’s FAQ site at mosquito.com.

 

Financial Product Review: CardStar Loyalty Card App

loyalty cardsIf your wallet  or pocketbook is anything like the overstuffed suitcases that Janet and I carry around, it’s probably brimming with loyalty cards and rewards cards from the merchants you frequent. We have cards from grocery stores, pharmacies, hotel chains, airlines and even Amtrak. These cards help us get great discounts over time at the places we shop, so we think of them as important tools for smart spending.

Unfortunately, the number of cards we carry has only grown, and we’ve responded in different ways. Janet has opted to buy increasingly larger pocketbooks as her loyalty cards have split seams and popped pockets. I, on the other hand, have chosen to regularly cull infrequently-used cards from my wallet, but as a consequence, I don’t always have the right card available when I want to use it.

Thankfully, we’ve stumbled on a new app that solves our problems and brings a lot of extra value: CardStar.

cardstar barcode

An Easy-to-Use App to Consolidate Your Cards

CardStar is available for iPhone, Android, Nokia, Blackberry and Windows phone systems and can be downloaded, set up and ready to use in minutes. The interface is simple and its use is generally obvious. Having never used the app before, I downloaded it, explored the app in its entirety and even entered seven cards from our favorite retailers in less than five minutes.

There are two ways to enter cards: snapping a photo of the barcode on the card and manually typing in the serial number of the card. CardStar makes this process even easier by providing a list of participating merchants that you can quickly select and add. If the merchant you want in not on the list though, don’t worry – you’ll find it’s a snap to add.

Adding Cardscardstar merchant list

Just click on the “+” in the top-right corner of the screen and then then scroll through an alphabetized list of participating merchants. Once you find the merchant whose card you want to add, just tap on its name to select it and then tap “Next.” The next screen to appear allows you to enter the card number or capture it by snapping a photo of the card’s barcode using the smartphone camera. Tap “Save” and then you’re all set!

If you don’t see the name listed for the merchant you want, you just need to create your own listing. At the top of their list of merchants is “(Other).” Tap there, click Next and then manually enter or photograph the barcode and then hit “Save.”  On the next screen, simply tap on the name “Other” in order to type in the name of the merchant that you just added. Easy.

How to Use It

Now, when you go to one of your favorite merchants and you want to use one of your cards, you don’t need to reach for your wallet. Just pull out your smartphone, open the CardStar app, and then select the merchant from your list of pre-saved cards. Your barcode and card number will appear on the screen. (The app will automatically create a barcode for you–even if your original card did not have one.) If the merchant has a machine that can scan barcodes, they will be able to scan the barcode on your smartphone screen just like the barcode that is printed on the product being sold. (The machines in your grocery market check-out lane are the perfect scenario for these cards.)

If they cannot scan barcodes, the check-out person or the merchant should be able to just manually type the card number that’s displayed on your phone into their register in order to give your card account credit for the sale.

cardstar dealsBig Savings and Peace of Mind

CardStar has two other major benefits: coupons and online backup. Some merchants share information about coupons or other discounts with CardStar, so the app allows puts a deals icon next to the name of any of your merchants that is offering extra savings. Just tap on the deals icon next to the name and the screen will switch to a list of those coupons and discounts. When you’re ready to use one, simply show the coupon’s code to the merchant.

Finally, CardStar also knows that sometimes smartphones get lost, damaged or replaced and that CardStar users need to be able to transfer their card accounts from phone to phone. CardStar’s one-touch account back-up provides this feature and is available easily from the app’s main screen.

Now, with CardStar, you can consolidate all your cards into one app, access big savings with an easy-to-use app and have the confidence that you can throw away that stack of cards forever.

Five Ten Twenty Club Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Note: This is the first in a series of financial product reviews designed to help you select the best free or low-cost products for your needs. We only recommend those products we feel benefit a majority of our readers.

The Great Grocery Coupon App Challenge

freeimage-10752841-webLike most people, one of my largest regular expenses is food, and I am convinced that I can probably save a lot of money each month if only I could just “crack the code” for how to eat more cheaply. However, I am also trying to eat healthier—a choice that seems to be considered a luxury lifestyle at the stores and restaurants in my city, Atlanta. Can I dramatically cut down on my food expenses while still eating the healthier diet that I want?

I don’t know, but I aim to try. And since this question suggests an experiment, let’s make it one.

I’ve been hearing a lot about how clever shoppers are using coupon apps on their smart phones. I consider myself a pretty tech-savvy guy, so this sounds like the perfect time to give a few a try.

I’ve done some research in apps stores and the blogosphere and a few names have risen to the top, thanks to popularity, ease of use, number of grocery stores involved, etc. But I haven’t found many reviews that I felt like I could trust myself, and I wouldn’t want to recommend any to you until I’ve really seen their quality for myself. So, over the next few months, I commit to trying the following apps:

  • CardCrunch
  • CardStar
  • The Coupon App
  • Endorse
  • Grocery IQ
  • Grocery Smarts Coupon Shopper
  • Ibotta
  • SavingStar
  • SnipSnap

As I try each of them I will post a review on their ease of use, success at saving me money and tips on how you can use each to reduce your grocery bills and increase your savings!

I’ll also be sure to tell you which ones aren’t worth your time.

Stay tuned. This should be fun… and money-smart!

 

Do you use any mobile apps to help you save on groceries?

What are your favorites and which would you never use again?

Share your advice and experiences in our Community Forum!

The 4 Essential Low-Cost Travel Apps

freeimage-2662804-high

We know, we know: You’re overwhelmed with recommendations for new apps promising to help you save time and money. That’s why we’ve pared this list down to the four best apps for lowering your travel costs. We’ve downloaded them, taken them for a spin and confirmed they’ll each help you save toward your Five Ten Twenty Club goals. Keep in mind, we’ve intentionally omitted airfare app recommendations. (There are so many great options that we think it warrants a separate post in the near future). Check these apps out:

Beat Cheap/Free Long Distance Call App: Sipergy

Sure, we’ve all heard of Skype and newer competitors, such as Viber, but Sipergy does everything they do – but better. Make long distance calls without roaming charges and get ridiculously low rates on international calls. This helpful little app even helps you find free wi-fi hotspots anywhere you are on earth. Another bonus: Free voice and text translation. Take that, Skype.

Best Discount Hotel App: Hotel Tonight

So you know you want a hip hotel in Los Angeles at a deep discount, but what if you don’t know the city well enough to sift through the hundreds of selections that most hotel booking sites present? If it’s a concise, thoughtful selection of sharply discounted hotels you want, look no further than Hotel Tonight. A word to the wise: You can score outrageously great deals largely because the app only accepts bookings for same-day stays. Your correspondent scored a room at the Ian Schrager-designed Paramount Hotel in NYC for a measly $99. I couldn’t even find hostel beds for that low price on other sites.

Best Low-Cost Rental Car App: RelayRides

Isn’t it great when you visit your friends or family back home, and they offer to lend you their car? Well, RelayRides kinda works the same way: The app enables you to find other people’s cars that they’re willing to rent out at really great prices. The premise of the “sharing economy” isn’t new; it’s also the basis for popular sites like AirBnB. One additional advantage of RelayRides: They’re the only car sharing service now available at airports across the country, so you can now get the convenience of traditional airport car rentals — without the hefty price tag.

Best Low-Cost Gas App: Gas Buddy

You’re driving through a new city in search of cheap gas but don’t know where to go –unless you’ve got the Gas Buddy app. This sweet bit of technology pinpoints the cheapest gas options in your vicinity, making anything from road trips to big-city driving less of a wallet drain. Oh, and don’t forget to put your savings toward your Five Ten Twenty Club goals

Do you use other apps to help you stay on budget while traveling?

Share your favorites in our Community Forum!