Guest Post — The Best Mobile Phones to Buy on a Budget

Mobile phone technology has taken leaps and bounds toward the future in the past couple of years. Unfortunately, so have their prices. With the mobile phone market littered with high cost, feature rich smartphones, those who are budget conscious may be lost as to which phone offers the best bang for their buck. If you are shopping for a new mobile phone and trying to avoid the high priced options, consider the following budget minded smartphones that offer a variety of features for a fraction of the price of the latest trending mobile.


Huawei Ascend G330

Lately Huawei has gained popularity in the budget Android market, offering a variety of low cost models that offer higher functionality than you would expect for $100. The phone boasts a 4 inch touchscreen display, dual-core processor, and a decent battery life. The phone comes standard with 4GB of internal storage, but accepts MicroSD cards up to 32GB.

Huawei included a front facing and rear facing camera for video chatting. The video capture is limited to 864X480 pixels, however the camera app does have a few fun features to play with and the main camera snaps pictures at 5MP, so you can get some decent photos.

Samsung Solstice II

With the current battle between the Samsung Galaxy and the iPhone, many smart shoppers overlook Samsung’s other great devices. The Samsung Solstice II is a budget friendly alternative to their higher priced models. With a 3 inch touchscreen display, a 2MP camera, and 256MB of internal memory, this device can handle most of your smartphone tasks. If you require more space, it is expandable to 16GB of space.

The Solstice runs on the Samsung Dolfin browser, so if you are looking for an Android phone with app capabilities, you may want to keep looking. The Solstice offers various tools to increase productivity, however downloading and installing apps is not an option. With basic mobile functionality, picture taking, and at around $80, the Solstice is intended to offer value in exchange for high tech.

Sony Xperia U

Sony Xperia U

If you are looking for style without the price, the Sony Xperia U offers just that. With a price ranging from $80-$150, this budget minded Android phone will get you noticed for both frugality and taste.

Internally the Xperia offers 4GB of space with no expansion slot. This is good for everyday use, however if you are into movies and music you may find you need more. The front facing camera allows you to video chat, while the rear facing 5MP lens offers the ability to take great photos. If you are looking for a 3.5inch display with a speedy 1 GHz processor, the Xperia may just offer the best price for your needs.

Nokia Lumina 620

For the Windows lovers out there, Nokia has dominated the market of Windows phones with their Lumina series. The Lumina 620 is a low cost Windows phone that offers a lot of function for not a lot of money. If you are looking for an all-around feature rich phone, this may be the option for you.

Compared to other phones in the price range, the Lumina’s 3.8 inch screen is a bit smaller than others. But what it lacks in screen size it makes up for in internal memory. At 8GB of internal storage and the capability to handle a 64GB microSD card, there is plenty of storage for music, videos and pictures.

The front facing 0.3 MP camera allows for video chat, however the rear 5MP camera lets you capture pictures and video of decent quality. Overall for the money, the Lumina is definitely priced to sell to those looking for a great phone at a great price.

htc desire c

HTC Desire C

To round out the list, you have to include the HTC Desire C. The Desire C is claimed to be the last cheap mobile to come from HTC. With a price tag of around $200, the Desire C offers Android users the functionality they have come to love. The 4GB internal storage is expandable with the microSD slot hidden under the back cover.

The 3.5 inch screen lets users line up the 5MP camera to take the best shot they can. The design of the Desire C is what many customers immediately notice. With a plastic rubber case, the phone is designed to stay in your hand with less chance of slipping out.

Even in today’s high priced mobile market there are a variety of low cost solutions that allow budget minded consumers to have the features they want while saving money. Before choosing your next phone, determine the features you want and the budget you can afford, then take a look at low cost smartphones.

Andrea Witherspoon is a tech writer for Follow her at @AndreaWTweets to keep up to date on the latest mobile devices.

Flu Prevention

Over the last few days, I have spoken with several of our readers who are battling the flu. Below are some flu prevention tips that may help your family stay healthy and avoid the outbreak.

Flu Shot

The CDC, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, says the #1 best way to prevent the flu is by being vaccinated each year. The flu shot is available at most clinics and hospitals throughout the nation. The average cost is about $25-$30, but that cost may be reduced if you have health insurance. Check to see if your health insurance policy covers the flu shot. Also, check with your employer as many companies are offering free flu shots to all their employees.

Good Health Habits Can Stop Germs

For some, I know the flu shot is not an option, or for whatever reason, some may choose not to get vaccination. Here are a few tips for maintaining optimal health.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, stay home and keep your distance from others to prevent them from getting sick too.
  • Cover your mouth or nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the inside crook of your elbow, not your hands. Doing this may help others from catching the illness.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand rub sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

Practice Good Health Habits Year Round

Maintaining overall good health is one of the best ways to help your body stay well. Here are ways to maintain good health year round.

  1. Get plenty of sleep. The average adult needs between 6-8 hours of sleep a night.
  2. Drink plenty of fluids. Nutritionists recommend 8-10 glasses of water a day.
  3. Eat nutritious food, especially those high in Vitamin C and Zinc. Both of these play a key part in boosting the body’s immune system. Foods that are high in Vitamin C and Zinc include: leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, and broccoli.
  4. Consider a daily multi-vitamin that provides 100% of the FDA daily recommended allowances of Vitamin C, B6, B12, Zinc, and Iron.
  5. Try to exercise on a regular basis. Those that exercise or walk for 30 minutes a day 3-4 times a week tend to stay healthier than those with a sedentary lifestyle.
  6. Try to keep stress to a minimum, stress can wear the body out physically and mentally. Home and life organization can play a key part in keeping the entire family happy and healthy.

What Should I Do if I Get the Flu?

One could do everything mentioned above and still come down with the flu. People who are at a high risk for flu such as the elderly, children, infants, those with asthma, diabetes, COPD, high blood pressure, or other long term health conditions are encouraged to seek medical attention at the onset of flu symptoms.

Your doctor can provide an anti-viral prescription medication to lessen the severity of the flu. Flu drugs are taken at the onset of flu and may help decrease the severity and duration of flu symptoms.

The CDC recommends Relenza or Tamiflu, these medications are most effective when given within 48 hours of the onset of illness. They can also decrease the duration of the flu by one day if used within this early time period. These medications are usually given for a period of about five days and are sometimes used to help prevent the flu in someone exposed to another person with the flu.

For most healthy individuals, not in the high risk category, the following is a list of recommendations:

Tip #1: Stay home and get plenty of rest.

On the first day of flu symptoms, you may need to call your work or school and tell them you’re not coming in for a few days because you’re sick — and very contagious! Then, take advantage of these days and let your body have much-needed rest. Pull out your favorite movies, curl up on the couch, and spend laying low while your body battles the virus.

Tip #2: Drink plenty of fluids.

Increase fluids such as water, fruit juices, sports drinks, and clear soups (like chicken soup). Fluids help keep your respiratory system hydrated and liquefy thick mucus that can build up to cause infection in your bronchial tubes.

Tip #3: Treat aches and fever so you feel comfortable.

Got a fever? Fever is a flu symptom and occurs when your body temperature rises to fight off infection (in this case, the flu virus).

Treat fevers and aches with over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve or Naprosyn).

Aspirin should never be given to children and adults younger than 19 years old with symptoms of flu or cold because it is associated with a condition known as Reye’s Syndrome, a very serious illness that damages the brain and liver.

Tip #4: Use cough suppressants and expectorants to treat the cough.

Over-the-counter cough remedies are available to suppress cough. There are also over-the-counter expectorants that liquefy thick mucus so it can be coughed up, though there is some disagreement among doctors about how well these cough medicines work. Also, consider hot peppermint tea, peppermint is great for soothing coughs and sore throats.

Tip #5: Use steam inhalations.

Fill the bathroom sink with steaming water. Add 1 teaspoon of the over-the-counter ointment Vicks Vapo Rub to the steaming water, and then breathe in the steam for several minutes until you get relief. Another alternative is to add a few drops of oil of eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) or menthol to the water. Eucalyptus may help open up bronchial tubes, ease congestion, and make breathing a little  easier.

Tip #6: Sit in a steamy bathroom.

If you are still congested, sit in a bathroom with the door closed and allow the shower to run hot until the room fills with moist steam. Inhaling the moisture can help to open your airways.

Tip #7: Run the humidifier.

If the air is dry, a warm mist humidifier or vaporizer can moisten the air and help ease congestion and coughing. Be sure to keep the humidifier clean, however, to prevent the growth of bacteria and molds.

Tip #8: Try soothing lozenges.

Sucking on soothing lozenges will help to moisten and coat your scratchy throat and reduce the cough associated with flu.

Tip #9 Try saline (salt water) nasal drops.

Saline nose drops are available over-the-counter at any drug or grocery store and are effective, safe, and nonirritating, even for children. Put several drops into one nostril, and then gently blow the mucus and saline out of that nostril. Repeat the process in the opposite nostril until both are unblocked.

 Do you have more recommendations or perhaps homeopathic remedies that I didn’t mention above? How does your schedule and routine change when family members are sick?


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Build a Better Budget for the New Year

Did you overspend last month? Last year? Have you been overspending longer than you can remember?

It seems hard to stay on a budget these days as prices are on the rise. Could you use  a few tips on setting up a budget that works, offers some “breathing room” and allows for savings when those unexpected expenditures pop up?

Know Your Monthly Income

First, you must know your monthly income. If you haven’t begun tracking your income and expenses, now is a good time to start. Next, make a list of all your recurring expenses starting with mortgage, utilities, phone, TV and internet. Add in any other monthly bill such as music or dance lessons, insurance, gas & groceries. It’s a good idea to make allowances for savings and entertainment or eating out. Even if you are only able to add in a small amount each month, it will eventually add up!


If you are not currently saving, try to make that a number one priority right along with paying bills, the mortgage and buying groceries. Dave Ramsey, one of the nation’s leading economic experts, suggests that all families have at least three month’s worth of savings. That means if your family spends $3000 a month on everything, to be safe and secure, it is recommended that you have $9000 in savings just in case you need it. This may seem like an overwhelming task, but the most important thing is to just begin. It may take quite a bit of time to get your savings up to a number that size but if you don’t start, your money can’t build.

It’s important to still have fun while you are living on a budget and as you try to put some money into savings. Look for frugal ways to have some fun with your family. Take strolls through the park, enjoy a picnic or check out a DVD from the library for a family movie night. It’s important to take time out to rest, relax and enjoy the little things in your life! Constantly working and not taking a break may cause you to become overwhelmed and stressed out.

Debt Free

I’d like to encourage you to focus on paying off debts as quickly as possible, if you have them. When you carry debt, you are paying interest. Even if you have a car that happens to be financed, you are most likely paying for additional insurance. Living within your means may seem like a challenge. You may need to focus on asking yourself if you really need a certain item vs. simply wanting it. Can you save for that special item and eventually pay cash for it? Challenge yourself to spend/save money in a new way in 2013.

Try not to use credit or finance things. Try to wait, save, buy used and pay cash. Living debt-free may be a difficult task at first but the longer you do it, the easier it may become.

Cut Cost When and Wherever Possible

Try to cut costs where ever you can, try these areas first: entertainment, groceries and gas. Is it possible to decrease your minutes on your phone plan? Do you need two cars? Do you need that specific size cable package?

Keep crunching the numbers and try to cut out all unnecessary expenses until you are able to achieve a balanced budget. Challenge yourself to stick to that budget and try to save a little bit more each and every month.

We’d love to hear your budgeting stories! Please tell us about your family, how many members in your household, your financial goals and ways you are able to stay on a certain budget. If you could give one piece of advice concerning budgets, what would it be?

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Creative Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving

For most Americans, Thanksgiving is all about the perfect meal and the football games afterwards. Want to try something new and different? Let’s get creative!

This year, try to focus more on making memories with family and friends. Invite neighbors or college students who may be celebrating the holiday alone. Volunteer to serve dinner at a homeless shelter. Share with people in need.

Serve Non-Traditional Foods on Thanksgiving Day

Who says turkey is a must for Thanksgiving? There are many Americans who would rather not have a day of turkey. Surprise family and friends with something new. Spice up Thanksgiving dinner with a new meat. Try turducken, pot roast, or fried chicken. Grill seafood and steak. Bake a lasagna or roll tamales.

The priority of the day is not the menu but the fellowship! Here are a few menu suggestions:

- Turducken – As odd the name may sound, a turducken is a chicken stuffed inside a duck, stuffed inside a turkey. It’s not difficult  to make, just time consuming. It makes for a beautiful dinner centerpiece. Each slice reveals chicken, duck, and turkey surrounded in stuffing. This  is a Cajun specialty. Consider using oyster and sausage stuffing.

- Venison – Most people consider venison to be a term used for deer. The only two foods that are officially documented as being part of the first Thanksgiving meal were venison and wild fowl. There are many ways to prepare deer meat. Consider making deer chili or chicken-fried deer steak. Deer chili would be the easiest and an excellent choice for colder climates. Provide crackers, chips, corn bread, and shredded cheese.

- Lamb – Give the traditional American meal a Middle Eastern, Greek, or Oriental flare by braising a lamb. Serve with a side of steamed asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes for an unforgettable dinner experience. Left-overs can be used to make lamb stew.

- Spaghetti and Lasagna – Create an Italian feast in honor of Christopher Columbus who, after all, was Italian . Many people enjoy pasta, especially children. Leftovers can easily be frozen. For a special treat, serve spumoni or  Italian ice for dessert

- Have a cook out. This may not be an option up in the northern states, but down in the warmer south, it could be a great time of fellowship!

After-Dinner Entertaining and Activities

The meal was a success. Don’t let the festivities stop there. Plan several activities to keep guests entertained. Consider an afternoon walk or nature hike.

Set out several different board games and puzzles. Make sure there’s something to entertain guests of all ages. Coloring sheets and artscrafts might be provided for younger children. Older adults tend to gravitate toward multi-player card games and Dominos. Some prefer to just sit and talk.

Keep the conversation running smoothly by having a list of topics on hand. Avoid discussions about world issues, politics, and religion. Provide a few whole group games like charades, Mad Gab, or Pictionary.

Creative Thanksgiving Day Activities

- Participate in a local Thanksgiving Day race. Many communities hold Turkey Trots to raise money for local charities.

- After the dinner, treat everyone present to a movie at the local movie theater, or have a special movie at home on hand. There are many Christian family movie options available through Netflix.

- Bring the Christmas decorations out and invite friends & family to help decorate the home for the holiday season. Many families, due to traveling restraints, combine Thanksgiving and Christmas into one celebration.

How Do You Celebrate Thanksgiving?

“We want to hear from you. How do you plan to celebrate this Thanksgiving? Are you traveling? Where? What’s on the menu and what activities do you have planned? Please share. I’m always looking for new ideas!”

Movie Money

Here are a few money-saving strategies from guest poster, Andrea Woroch, that will save you money this summer at the moviesMolly

With summer around the corner, Hollywood is about to roll out a slew of sequels, blockbusters and indie films sure to satisfy most people’s craving for easy entertainment. Before making your summer selections, however, you should consider how best to spend your movie money.

According to TIME Moneyland, ticket prices are expected to increase this year thanks to lackluster sales in 2011 — and that’s not including the exorbitant cost of concessions. Don’t let the inflated cost of the cinema deflate your family’s desire to catch the season’s best flicks on the big screen.

saving money at movies

Follow these 11 tips to avoid blowing your movie budget.

1. Join AAA
The automobile club offers $8 tickets to Regal, United Artists and Edwards movie theaters. The catch is that you have to go to one of their offices to buy them.

2. Buy Movie Packs
This is the way to go for families. You can buy a four-pack of tickets from Costco, good for a variety of theatres, for just $34.99 and a 10-pack for $82.99. There’s no expiration date and you can use the tickets seven days a week. also saves you an average of $2 to $3 off a ticket’s face value for seven different chains.

3. Attend Second-Run Theatres
There are several chains that show movies a bit past their prime. If you can wait to see the latest iteration of a Marvel comic, you’ll pay anywhere from $3 to $6 for the same movie.

4. Ask for Senior Rates
If you’re 60 or over, you’ll get a discount from select locations of AMC Theatres. And Cinemark offers Seniors Day every Monday at some locations for seniors 62 and older. Ultimately, it helps to ask the cashier or one of the theatre managers about available discounts for seniors. Just be prepared to show your ID.

5. Skip the Concession Stand
Eat before you head out to the movies so you won’t be tempted by the many treats on offer. Granted this is how theaters make their money, but it’s also how you double the cost of your ticket.

6. Use Discount Gift Cards
Save 10 to 30 percent by purchasing discount movie theater gift cards from such sites as GiftCardGranny. In addition to saving instantly on ticket prices, you can cut the cost of concessions if the smell of popcorn is too tempting to overcome.

7. Swipe Your Plastic
Credit card companies and banks have increased their reward perks over the last few years and some of those include free passes to the theater. Visa Signature offers their credit card holders two-for-one movie tickets via Fandango on Fridays. Deutsche Bank Debit Card users can get one free pass for every one ticket purchased through Ask your credit card or bank about such reward perks and take advantage of the discount.

8. Be Loyal
Kerasotes Theaters has the FiveBuckClub, which sends weekly emails with a list of movies members can see for $5. AMC Theatres offers points toward discounts, concession upgrades and more if you join their Stubs Rewards Program. Check with your local theatres to see if they provide similar deals for loyal customers.

9. Daily Deal It
Though daily deals for restaurants and spa services overwhelm your inbox, you have good reason to search through the clutter. Sites like Groupon and LivingSocial have featured movie theater savings of up to 50 percent, and will likely offer similar promotions this summer. The vouchers typically expire within a couple months so make note of the date and use them up before then.

10. Early-Bird Deals
Matinees can save you anywhere from 30 to 50 percent off prime-time ticket prices, leaving more money in your wallet for warm summer evenings.

11. Say Something
Have you ever watched a movie where the sound system was off enough to drive you crazy? Perhaps you ended up surrounded by a swarm of teenagers who shouted at the screen throughout the film. Don’t be afraid to ask for a voucher or your money back if you have a bad experience. You may be surprised how often theaters will accommodate a polite request.

Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.

Molly Saves on the Go

Get your motor running!

Ease on down the road with tips for family travel in Molly’s Money-Saving Digest Molly Saves on the Go and take a detour around the usual stress and expense.


Even if a road trip isn’t on your horizon, you’ll find plenty useful advice this month, including frugal projects, nutritious food, financial teaching for kids, and much more!

  • Treat your family to a hearty, easy meal.
  • Brush up on the basics of grooming your pet.
  • Teach your kids about budgeting.
  • Use salvaged materials to create a useful camp stool.
  • Find out which free websites can spur you on to better fitness.
  • Mix up some homemade help for hard-working hands.
  • Check out the many benefits of using your library.
  • Get inspired to use your crafting talents for others.

Are we there yet? Molly can help you arrive at your destination with more of your sanity and wallet intact. Loading up on junk food at every stop. Boredom wafting from the back seat. Squabbles resulting from said boredom. Does this sound all too familiar? Stop trouble in its tracks and make your car trip more enjoyable for everyone with the advice in this month’s Digest.

  • Find out all about feeding your family healthy snacks and meals on the go.
  • Take drinks with you and keep more of your dollars.
  • Discover must-have items for your packing list, both for comfort and for convenience.
  • Stock up on car games and other activities to keep your kids busy.
  • Learn how to perform basic maintenance on your vehicle so it’s always ready to go.
  • Learn how to maintain your other vehicle: your bicycle.

Take a closer look at all the impressive features you’ll find in this month’s Digest:

  • This ’n’ That: Smile! April is National Humor Month. Time is also set aside this month to celebrate gardens and libraries, among other things.
  • Begin With the Basics: If you don’t know what GORP is, find the answer (and the recipe) here. Your family will thank you! You’ll also get tips on other good snacks for traveling.
  • Forms & Printables: The Internet is a treasure trove of activities to keep kids busy in the car, whether you’re going for a long trip or a ride around town. Puzzles, games, mazes, trivia, and art projects will help time fly.
  • Décor & More: Eleanor Joyce offers lots of tips for healthy and frugal travel, from what to eat to how to keep everyone comfortable. Think outside the fast food box and take along a salad in a jar; just shake, then eat. Learn what the kids should wear when traveling, plus things you won’t want to do without on the road.
  • Meal of the Month: Give your hungry family a taste of White Chicken Chili and make extra to put in the freezer for quick meals.
  • Molly’s Motor Maintenance: Take on some of your car’s mechanical checkups yourself to save money at the garage and avoid preventable repairs. Not mechanically inclined? Don’t worry. Anyone can do these simple checks.
  • Bicycle Basics & More: If your bike has been dormant during the winter, it needs a checkup too. A basic spring tuneup may help you avoid problems out on the road.
  • Pet Care for Pennies: Find out how grooming done at home can ward off skin infections and other problems, as well as save the cost of having a professional do the job. Even if you only stick to the basics, you can stretch the time between grooming appointments and watch the savings add up.
  • Tightwad Training Camp: Kids learn the difference between fixed and variable expenses and are challenged to think about whether expenditures are based on wants or needs.
  • Something Old, Something New: Sharon White reaches into her store of salvaged items to make a folding stool that’s functional, frugal, and fashionable. This project also has something to teach us about trust.
  • Here’s to Your Health: With a number of free websites, you can track your food intake each day, get healthy recipes, participate in forums with others who share your fitness goals, and track your weight loss progress.
  • You’re a Natural Beauty: Treat your hands to some homemade lotion, then turn your attention to your nails. A multisided buffer can make them pretty without polish.
  • Molly Recommends: Find information and inspiration in the E-Book Molly Goes Camping. Packed full of tips for both novices and seasoned campers, it also contains heartwarming stories from readers like you.
  • Change One Thing This Month: As wonderful as books are, today’s libraries often have much more to offer, from story times to movies, book clubs to reading incentive programs, research databases to Wi-Fi access. Investigate your local branch to find out what you may be missing.
  • Inspiration! Your hobby can offer comfort to people in need.
  • Directory of Links: For those of you who print and bind your Digests, you’ll have easy access to all of the fantastic links worth saving in the back of this issue. It makes your Digest easier to use!

See why homemakers love Molly’s Digest—see what’s inside!

Discover for yourself all of the exciting and imaginative ideas Molly has to offer and wants to share with you—ideas that could save you big money and needless headaches!

You’ll glean some of the best, inexpensive ideas and projects for everyday living that you can find, and be inspired to be self-confident, creative, and resourceful too.

View a sample of this product here.

Molly makes it fun and easier to be frugal! Think about it—with so much to learn and save, if you apply just one money-saving idea, you’ll recoup the cost of this E-Book right away!

Project Manager: Toni Riggs
Contributing Writers: Dena Wood, Eleanor Joyce, Sharon White, Patricia Hunter, Toni Riggs, Tiffany J. Rule, DVM, Michelle Tonnemacher
Publication: 2011
Pages: 59
File Size: 5.1 MB

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