Thursday, December 31, 2009

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Pakistan to seek terror charges against Americans (AP)

AP - Pakistani police said Thursday they plan to ask a court to charge five Americans arrested in early December with terrorism, and will seek life sentences against them.

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Making Long Term Goals Like Investing for Retirement Easier to Understand

Hindsight is 20… Okay, we know that saying so let’s skip the crap. Today is the last day of the year decade. Is there anything you wish you did this decade that you didn’t? If you could turn back time, how will your goals be different?

I read somewhere before that most of us overestimate our short term goals but severely underestimate what we can achieve long term (long term being five years or more).

Today marks the end of another decade. If you could restart year 2000, is there anything significant that you could have done to make your life a little better in 2010?

Sometimes when I talk about long term money matters like retirement and long term investing, I bet many of you are finding the concepts quite hard to grasp. 10, 20, 30 years into the future? Who can make a commitment for that long?

I know it’s hard, but yet, those of us who made sacrifices in 2000 are SO MUCH better off now. It’s no secret that the last decade for the stock market down right sucked, but did you know that:

  • The S&P 500 actually had a negative annualized return in the past 10 years, but having $100,000 at the start of 2000 in a S&P 500 index fund and putting $1,000 a month towards it still gave you $214,000?
  • If you had a diversified 80% stock / 20% bond portfolio rebalanced annually, it equaled to an annualized return of just 3.6%. Yet, with the same $100,000, your portfolio could have been $290,000 with the same $1,000 monthly contribution.

(Data: Jan/Feb Issue of Money Magazine)

$190,000 extra since 2000 in the worst investing environment since the great depression isn’t bad at all, and amount is certainly much more money than most people have. Yet, all of us could have had that much money by now.

If only we made that commitment, instead of buying all that stuff we can’t even remember now.

If $1,000 is too much, then start with less and increase it slowly. The more you save, the more you will have. It sounds obvious, because it’s hard to imagine results so far away. Instead, think backwards. Venturing out ten years into the future might be tough, but what if you look back and tried to see yourself making that commitment ten years ago? All of a sudden, the goal isn’t so far fetched.

A decade is a long time, but we already have a couple of those under our belts and will live many more. Find some long term goals and stick to it. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because you absolutely need to. If you need some help, your past could help.


Related Articles at Personal Finance Blog by Money Ning:


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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Poll: Americans most admire Obama, Clinton, Palin

President Obama is the man Americans admired most in 2009, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, while Secretary of State Hillary Rodham …

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Autopsy for Avenged Sevenfold drummer inconclusive (AP)

AP - An autopsy is inconclusive as to the cause of death for Avenged Sevenfold drummer Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Charlie Sheen's wife says that he threatened her (AP)

AP - Charlie Sheen’s wife told police the actor pinned her on a bed, put a knife to her throat and threatened to kill her in a Christmas Day fight in Aspen that began when she said she wanted a divorce.

Read more of Charlie Sheen’s wife says that he threatened her (AP)…



Monday, December 28, 2009

Brazil: The New Land of Opportunity?

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(Over Kind Man)

At first glance, it might seem old hat to anoint Brazil as the land of new opportunity. Long characterized by crime and corruption, Brazil has historically fallen short of its moniker as “the country of the future.” However, data has emerged in recent years suggesting that Brazil’s economic forecast is brighter than most might think. Despite a 1% contraction in GDP during 2009 (much of which can be attributed to the worldwide financial meltdown), TradingEconomics.com refers to Brazil “…one of the fastest growing emerging economies in the world.” Brazil’s economy also “…ranks highest among all the South American countries”, as well as having acquired “…a strong position in the global economy.” The country stands as the richest South American country in terms of GDP, and despite the recent dip in gro! wth, Brazil is showing signs of an recovery, propelled largely by tax cuts on consumer goods. As we head into the New Year, you may be thinking about greener pastures. In this first of a series on recovering economies, we’ll look at what Brazil has going for it economically speaking – the opportunities, the government incentives to producers, the fastest-growing industries, and what the future has in store.

The Opportunities

The business opportunities in modern-day Brazil are not confined to native citizens. Indeed, citizens of presumably better-off, developed countries are concluding that, in many cases, Brazil offers something of a new ‘promised land.’ A recent BBC report, highlighted the story of a Lebanese entrepreneur named Jimmy who came to Brazil after working in France for six years. While conceding that France is, “…a great country to visit”, Jimmy maintained that, “…there’s a lot of restraints: you have to pay lots of taxes, food costs are high, so there’s lots of things that push you to come here to Brazil.” And that’s what Jimmy did, opening his own jeans and clothing manufacturing business while working at a restaurant on weekends. Taxes, especially, are a major driving force behind multinationals ! and expatriates flocking to Brazil. When reminded that he paid taxes in Brazil as well, Jimmy countered frankly, “…you can’t compare the European taxes with the Brazilian taxes.”

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(Claudio Matsuoka)

More broadly, the BBC reports attributes much of Brazil’s burgeoning opportunity to the fact that, “…street traders and hustlers” hocking t-shirts, toys and computer games has been supplemented by, “…more formal enterprise.” This stands in contrast to what BBC calls, “… informal bustle and street dynamism”, which limited Brazil’s economic appeal to outside interests for decades. What explains the change? Several factors, not least of which is the introduction of democracy 25 years ago, spelling a reduced role for the military in politics. Prior regimes, with their preference for resolving domestic conflicts with force, created uncertainty amidst which business activity simply could not flourish. With these regimes a thing of the past, Brazil’s modern governments began actively courting multinational investors and businesses to the country with various incentives. Tax breaks to exporters have been fore! most among these incentives. In 2005, International Tax Review reported that Brazil had enacted, “…special tax regimes” to exporting local entities, as well as companies working in the IT space. Retirement program taxes, “…levied on importation of fixed assets and services used in software development and the supply of IT services”, for instance, were suspended for both IT companies and all exporters for whom exporting comprised, “…80% of their annual gross revenue.” Taxes levied on, “…importation of new capital goods (for example, machinery, equipment, and tools)” were also suspended during the same year.

The Incentives and Top Performers

More recently, BusinessWeek reported in November 2009 that Brazil had cut taxes on furniture and construction supplies. The, “…Tax over Industrialized Products (IPI) for the furniture sector, ranging from 5 to 10 percent depending on the product, will fall to zero till the end of March 2010″, while the cuts on construction supplies, originally slated to end in December, were extended through June 2010. BusinessWeek states that these cuts were part of a broader portfolio of incentives, accompanying, “…tax cuts in such sectors as vehicles, construction supplies and household appliances to boost domestic consumption and help its economy bounce back from the financial crisis as soon as possible.”

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(Esdras Calderan)

By and large, the incentives have worked. In its 2009 Letagum Prosperity Index, Prosperity.com noted that, “…490,542 new businesses were registered [in Brazil] in 2007, the second highest figure in the Index.” While computer access is “…very low by global standards at just 16 personal computers for every 100 citizens”, this still represents the highest figure in all of South America. Payment for royalties is high, “…indicating that Brazil is able to capitalize on its intellectual property.” Perhaps most conducive to entrepreneurial opportunity is the relatively high level of freedom Brazilians enjoy. According to the Prosperity Index, Brazil boasts, “…the highest possible rating for freedom of movement, religion, and speech”, good for sixteenth on the personal freedom section of the Index. With eight out of 10 respondents belie! ving that Brazil is a good place for minorities, perhaps this is why businessmen like Jimmy feel comfortable setting up shop in Brazil.

Some of the fastest-growing Brazilian industries have been hinted at thus far. Consumer goods remains an economic juggernaut, while exporting continues to be emphasized and promoted by President Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva’s government (or known affectionately as ‘Lula’). The nation’s consumer electronics industry, in particular, is said to be, one of the fastest growing consumer markets in the world. The Brazilian automobile industry is also growing despite the recession, projecting a compound annual growth rate of 10% from 2009-2013 according to PR-Inside.

What The Future Holds

Indeed, the road ahead appears quite prosperous for Brazil. Bloomberg reported on December 19, 2009 that Brazil’s jobless rate, “… fell for a third month to the lowest level of 2009″ – 7.4%. The country is reportedly expected to add over 2 million jobs in 2010, according to Labor Minister Carlos Lupi. Zeina Latif, chief economist for Brazil at ING Bank, was quoted as saying that domestic demand and demand for consumer goods, “…weren't hurt by the international crisis.” In a similarly optimistic vein, the Wall Street Journal sees Brazil’s economy growing by 5.5% in 2010, granting that, “…it’s perfectly possible for industry to grow at a rate of 6% to 7%.” Looking ahead even further, ThePicky sees Brazil becoming the fifth largest economy in the world by 2050. All things considered, it’s no wonder why Brazil’s $1.5 trillion economy is being called the new land of opportunity.


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Airport Security Stepped Up

Folks traveling home after the Christmas holiday, have noticed stepped up security at our nation’s airports. Why? Because security has been ramped up after a major scare on Christmas day, when a would be terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, tried to take down a plane in Detroit. Luckily, the detonator malfunctioned, and some quick thinking passengers subdued him.

I’m sure there are questions being raised, like why would someone, who was on a US terrorist watch list, not be on a no-fly list? Or why was he not even designated for special screening measures. How did he get the chemical explosives? And why, after his father had contacted the US Embassy about his sons radical behavior was there no follow-up done? Those answers are probably being sought now, as well as how can this be avoided in the future.

The Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has said new security measures will include increased ‘pat downs’ and gate screening. There will also be other measures in place that are designed to be unpredictable, so passengers will not necessarily go through the same screening measures from one airport to another. Due to all the holiday travel, passengers are being advised to allow extra time for check in.

Most people who are traveling are taking all this in stride, and would rather take extra time to ensure they have safe flights than have a repeat of the Christmas day scare.

For more on today’s hottest stories, check out our top searched list. What other big stories happened today? Let us know! Come back for tomorrow’s Hot Searches and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for daily updates. Are you curious what is hot in the Europe, check out the UK Hot Searches.

Don’t forget to check out our Year End Hot Searches!

Hot Searches for December 28 2009.
1. EMC- Data storage company shares rise
2. PETN - Explosive used by attempted bomber common and widely available
3. Ivana Trump - Escorted off of plane in Florida
4. Jim Caldwell - Controversial move ends Colts no loss streak
5. Percy Sutton - Civil Rights attorney and Harlem political pioneer dies at 89
6. Urban Meyers - retracts resignation, takes leave of absence
7. Charlie Sheen - Accused of having weapon during domestic violence
8. Janet Napolitano - Admits aviation security system failure
9. Jesse Stone - Tom Sellick plays roll of police chief in 5th movie on CBS
10. Alhaji Umaru Mutallab - Contacted US Embassy with concerns about his son

More: airline reservations, airlines schedules, international airlines, airline security regulations, check flights

 

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Tweaking a successful financial formula

Despite a still funky economy, many people are doing well.



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Americans would feel varying effects from health bill

The 10-year, $871 billion health care bill approved by the Senate last week would change the way millions of Americans access …

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Iran nuclear trigger report a U.S. forgery: Ahmadinejad (Reuters)

Reuters - A leaked memo appearing to show Tehran’s efforts to design an atomic bomb trigger was forged by the United States, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a U.S. news program.

Read more of Iran nuclear trigger report a U.S. forgery: Ahmadinejad (Reuters)…



Saturday, December 19, 2009

Officials: Pot found on 2 Lil Wayne tour buses (AP)

AP - Rapper Lil Wayne and 11 people traveling with him were briefly detained Friday night after U.S. Border Patrol officers found marijuana on two of his tour buses, authorities said.

Read more of Officials: Pot found on 2 Lil Wayne tour buses (AP)…



Friday, December 18, 2009

Iraq accuses Iran of seizing oil well near border (AP)

AP - Iranian forces crossed into Iraq and seized an oil well just over the two countries’ disputed border, Iraq’s government said Friday, prompting a protest from Baghdad and providing a dramatic display of the sometimes tenuous relations between the wary allies.

Read more of Iraq accuses Iran of seizing oil well near border (AP)…



As the World Turns cancelled

I was watching TV just to discover As the World Turns cancelled. I thought it was so sad to see happen. The soap opera has been on TV for fifty years. It is getting canceled due to bad ratings. It won't officially be canceled till fall of two thousand and ten. Hopefully that is enough time for all of the viewers that have been watching it for so long to say goodbye to the show that they love so much.

Apparently there have been many different soap operas that have been cancelled pretty recently. I am kind of sad because soap operas are one of those things you enjoy watching in the middle of the day. Unfortunately, they are all being cancelled. It isn't too bad because I'm sure there are much more wholesome things that I could watch on TV. I think I will probably have to watch them all until they all slowly die away.

Maybe eventually I will start reading good wholesome books instead of watching pointless soap operas. The only thing bothersome about soap operas is that it takes one season of a soap opera to get through a week in the show. They usually move extremely slow which can be pretty bothersome to some people but just fine to others. I would definitely prefer if the shows that I watched moved faster rather than slowly like soap operas do.



Gatorade drops Tiger

Photo: commons.wikimedia.org

Photo: commons.wikimedia.org

Tiger Woods is a perfect example of poor decisions really hurting your life and career. Apparently Gatorade drops Tiger Focus drink. This is probably a sign of things to come. Apparently Gatorade doesn't want someone who is making bad decisions promoted. They must be trying to keep people drinking their drink.

Image is everything to a company. If a company feels that someone they are sponsoring are now not worth their money then they must drop that person immediately. Tiger Woods has shown that bad decisions really do affect everything in your life. He has lost his wife and now his contract with Gatorade. Hopefully he doesn't lose too much more or he'll end up on the streets with everyone else.



Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bargaining Chips: Broadband Internet for $19.99/Month

‘Tis the season for some haggling with your internet service provider! Let them know you have other options, and you should be able to get a lower bill for at least a few months that can add up to some big savings. Below are some new customer offers - you might not get them to match completely, but anything is good in my book. (Also handy for those that recently moved - try using the name of another household member - or just want to start up new service.)

ComcastOffers
$19.99 per month for 6 months, with free wireless modem and $100 cash back

Broadband National
Click on “promotions” in the upper right corner for several offers including:

AT&T - $19.99/month for 6 months, free modem/router, and $100 cash back

Charter
$19.99/mo. for 6 months, free modem, free wireless router, no contract

Cox High-Speed Internet
$19.99/mo. for 3 months, free modem, free self-install kit.

Oh, and don’t forget to check out some of the haggling tips in this DirecTV haggle post.

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Oscar winner Jennifer Jones dead at 90 (AP)

AP - A publicist says Jennifer Jones, who was nominated for Academy Awards five times and won for her portrayal of a saintly nun in “The Song of Bernadette,” has died at age 90.

Read more of Oscar winner Jennifer Jones dead at 90 (AP)…



Chris Henry, dead at 26, could have been a role model (Yahoo! Sports)

Redemption stories are the best kinds of stories. If someone’s failed, lost their way or made more mistakes…

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Elin Nordegren In Talks With Puma

Tiger Woods’ wife about to cash in…
While Nike stands by their man Tiger Woods, referring to him as the greatest golfer in history and calling his infidelity “a minor blip,” it’s being reported that Nike’s nemesis Puma knows a good Swedish spokesperson when they see her. Looks like Elin Nordegren’s going to be a working woman soon…

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Olbermann Fact Checks Liz Cheney's Attacks On Obama's Oslo Speech (VIDEO)

Liz Cheney called parts of President Obama’s Nobel acceptance speech in Oslo “shameful” during an appearance on Fox News Sunday. Cheney was particularly incensed by “this notion that America abandoned our ideals after 9/11″ and that we “tortured people.” She accused Obama of “slandering the men and women in the CIA.”

Keith Olbermann fact-checked her criticism on his MSNBC show last night, concluding that “for any U.S. official to stand up against torture by other U.S. officials does not impugn the entire organization”:

No, he meant your father. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, M

Read more of Olbermann Fact Checks Liz Cheney’s Attacks On Obama’s Oslo Speech (VIDEO)…



Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wells Fargo to Repay Entire $25 Billion TARP Investment; Announces $10.4 Billion Common Stock Offering (Business Wire)

SAN FRANCISCO—-Wells Fargo & Company announced today that, pursuant to terms approved by U.S. banking regulators and the U.S. Treasury, it will redeem the $25 billion of series D preferred stock issued to the U.S.

Read more of Wells Fargo to Repay Entire $25 Billion TARP Investment; Announces $10.4 Billion Common Stock Offering (Business Wire)…



Monday, December 14, 2009

Dubai's $10B bailout by Abu Dhabi calms fears (AP)

Oil-rich Abu Dhabi pumped $10 billion into its indebted neighbor Monday, sending stocks soaring and sparing Dubai and the rest of the Emirates federation the humiliation of an imminent default by one of the struggling Arab boomtown’s star companies.

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Dubai gets $10B from Abu Dhabi to cover debt (AP)

Dubai got a $10 billion lifeline from oil-rich Abu Dhabi to save one of its prized companies from imminent default Monday, calming fears for now about the city-state’s shaky finances.

Read more of Dubai gets $10B from Abu Dhabi to cover debt (AP)…



Sunday, December 13, 2009

White House economists see jobs growth by spring (Reuters)

Reuters - Senior White House economists on Sunday predicted the U.S. economy will start creating jobs by spring and said that boosting employment will be at the top of President Barack Obama’s agenda next year.

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Burned ayatollah photo sparks new Iranian protests (AP)

AP - Police surrounded the campus of Tehran University on Sunday, trapping hundreds of students protesting what they said were fabricated government images showing the burning of a photo of the revered founder of the Islamic republic.

Read more of Burned ayatollah photo sparks new Iranian protests (AP)…



Saturday, December 12, 2009

NYPD tracks gun in deadly Times Square shooting (AP)

AP - A machine pistol used by a street hustler and aspiring rapper shot dead in a Times Square gunfight was purchased from a Virginia gun shop by a woman who reported it stolen 10 days after she bought it, authorities said.

Read more of NYPD tracks gun in deadly Times Square shooting (AP)…



Friday, December 11, 2009

New Cover Song Alert: Miley Cyrus Gets Poison'd For Iconic '80s Remake

Posted Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:22am PST by Lyndsey Parker in Stop The Presses! First Miley Cyrus strapped on an acoustic guitar in her video for her power ballad ” The Climb “–a song that indicated she might be attempting to take a new, less poppy direction with her music and be seen as more of a ro…

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Box.net Free Fax Review: 100 Free Outgoing Fax Pages/Month

File-sharing and online collaboration site Box.net also has a handy feature that other similar services don’t have - 100 pages of free outgoing faxes per month via eFax. Their free Lite plan includes 1 GB of online storage with a per-file size limit of 25 MB. Simply upload the file you wish to fax (PDF files work well), right-click, and select "Send with eFax." If you don’t see that option, click on “Add Applications” and find eFax.

There are no ads, and if you need a cover sheet you’ll have to include that in the .PDF file you upload. The fax is sent immediately after you initiate it, and it was received by my fax machine without errors and with good print quality (for a fax). You do get a confirmation e-mail from eFax that it was sent successfully. Not bad at all for free!

As a reminder, you can also sign up for a free fax number to receive incoming faxes at eFax or K7.net and have it sent to your e-mail. Together, I would imagine these services can cover most casual fax usage (assuming you have a scanner to convert things to PDF format).

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Sending Faxes with Ooma Phone Service

Today I tried to both send and receive faxes through my new Ooma VoIP phone system. I used a Brother MFC-7340 multi-function printer and my Ooma is connected via cable modem.

While fax is not officially supported, there is a section with several tips in the Ooma Support Knowledgebase, which I highlighted below. In short, connect your fax machine directly to the Hub, and dial *99 before your fax number. Both sending and receiving worked perfectly for me on the first try. I’m very impressed!

While the ooma system is not guaranteed for Fax transmissions, it often works successfully, provided you follow these simple instructions:

1. For the best results, make sure your Fax machine is connected to the back of the ooma Hub or Telo unit, not the ooma Scout. The fax machine should be plugged into the “PHONE” port of the ooma device. If you plan on using a phone handset with the ooma Hub or Telo, you can use a splitter to connect a phone handset and the fax machine to the ooma device.

2. Dial the prefix *99 before you dial an outgoing Fax call. Please note that you may need to insert a pause or two in the dialing sequence after entering the *99 prefix and before entering the Fax number.

If you are still unable to send or receive a Fax, try the following additional steps:

1. Disable "ECM" (i.e., "Error Correction Mode") on your Fax machine.
2. Decrease the transmission or baud rate.
3. Reduce the number of pages that are sent per fax.
4. Decrease the desired image quality of the fax.
5. Discontinue any large file downloads (for receiving faxes) or uploads (for sending faxes).

Read more about Sending Faxes with Ooma Phone Service…



Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

MTV's "Jersey Shore" gains protesters, loses ads (Reuters)

Reuters - The ruckus over MTV’s “Jersey Shore” is getting as intense as the hot-headed dramatics on the show.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New Obama plans: 'spend our way out' of downturn (AP)

President Barack Obama outlined new multibillion-dollar stimulus and jobs proposals Tuesday, saying the nation must continue to “spend our way out of this recession” until more Americans are back at work.

Read more of New Obama plans: ’spend our way out’ of downturn (AP)…



Pearl Harbor Day 2009: three enduring mysteries

Washington – How did the Japanese do it? That question remains 68 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor , a day that spawned some of the greatest unanswered questions of US military history.

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Steven Solomon: Water Is The New Oil

What’s More Important Than Oil?

That’s the question I first asked myself which led me to write “Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization” (Harper Collins January 2010). I had read Dan Yergin’s wonderful history of oil, “The Prize”, and began contemplating what other natural resource might be shaping our destiny as profoundly. The obvious answer arrived like a slap in the forehead, a Bill Clinton “It’s the economy, stupid!” moment–WATER.

Water is visibly showing through as a root cause of nearly every headline issue transforming the world order and planetary environment:

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Climate Talks Open With Calls for Urgent Action

A meeting of nearly 200 nations seeking what has so far been elusive common ground on climate began Monday.

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Bing Cashback: 20% Off Walmart.com & eBay.com

If you’ve been shopping online for a while, you’ve probably heard of cashback shopping “malls” or sites like eBates which offer you a bit of money (or miles or points) back on your purchases made through them. I could have sworn I wrote a post about this already, but anyway, the new kid on the block is Bing Shopping brought to you by Microsoft.

Here’s some of the fine print:

A waiting period (of up to 60 days) and $5 minimum applies to payouts. To earn your cashback, stores will provide us (Microsoft) non-personal info about your purchase, and you will need to provide us with personal information (like your email address above) to create a Bing cashback account. We may use this information to personalize your online experiences, and will treat all your information in keeping with the Microsoft privacy statement. cashback is available only for personal purchases made during your store visit directly from the Bing site. You cannot use coupons or discounts. See Bing cashback terms. Additional store terms may apply.

If you follow the rules, right now you can get some pretty sizeable cashback, including 20% off Walmart.com and 20% off eBay.com purchases*. These stores carry many items that can be hard to find at an additional discount. For example, Walmart sells Apple iPods and eBay sells gift certificates and physical gold.

Always look for an link that looks like this, with the Bing cashback coin:

For example, I just bought an Ooma Hub & Scout from Walmart for $229 minus 20% ($45.80) and also a $25 Walmart gift card, for a net price of about $158. Otherwise, the lowest I could find from various price comparison sites is the price at Amazon of $215, although in some states you may be able to avoid sales tax. After finishing checkout, I immediately received an e-mail saying that I’d get $45.80 after 60 days payable to my PayPal account.

* Visit bing.com/shopping and run a search for “sony”. Look for an ad about cashback from eBay (see above). Click and you should see this image at the top to confirm your 20% cashback:

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