US National Park Centennial: Free Admission, Special Events, and Virtual Reality Tours

The National Park Service turned 100 on August 25, 2016. From Thursday 8/25 to Sunday 8/28/16, there will be special events and free admission to all 412 national parks. Visit FindYourPark.com to find details about your nearest park.

The fee waiver includes entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees. Other fees such as reservation, camping, tours, concession and fees collected by third parties are not included unless stated otherwise.

If you can’t visit the parks in person (if even if you can), check out “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks”. You’ll see select parks in 360-degree virtual reality thanks to a partnership between the NPS and Google. You can use Google Cardboard for the full experience, but it still very cool on a big screen with headphones. Here’s a one-minute preview video:

Finally, NASA is sharing what the US National Parks look like from the Space Station.

Finally, you may have noticed the Google Doodle of the day, which linked to a neat one-minute animated video below:

Free Educational Apps for Children: Duck Duck Moose

ddm0bIf you’re a parent of young children these days, you’re likely looking to make their screen time active and educational instead of passive. Unfortunately, free apps are often of low quality or severely restricted. Meanwhile, there are some excellent paid apps, but the cost starts adding up quickly at $2 to $10 a pop.

So it was welcome news when non-profit Khan Academy announced that they are partnering with developer Duck Duck Moose and making all of their apps completely free to download with all features. They have won 21 Parent’s Choice awards and 18 Editor’s Choice awards from Children’s Technology Review.

Here are links to all of their Android apps and all of their iPhone / iPad apps. More supposedly are in the works.

There are a lot to choose from, so here are the apps organized by awards won. Here are the Common Sense Media reviews of certain apps.

SolarCity Bonds: 6.50% Interest for 18 Month Term

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Some folks don't like it when I write about investments that aren't low-cost index funds. The thing is, when I find something intriguing, I like to dig deeper and then keep a record my findings. That way I can look back later and see how things … [Read the rest]

MogulREIT: CrowdFunded Real Estate for Non-Accredited Investors

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While the number of real estate crowdfunding sites keeps growing, most marketplaces still require you to be an accredited investor with high income and/or net worth requirements. However, options for non-accredited investors should improve shortly … [Read the rest]

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card Review: 100,000 Points Bonus = $1,500 in Travel, $450 Annual Fee

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Chase has a new ultra-premium credit card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, which has headline features of Visa Infinite benefits, 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points sign-up bonus, and a $450 annual fee. That's a huge sign-up bonus and a big annual … [Read the rest]

Using Your 401(k) and Roth IRA as Emergency Funds

We've all heard that you should keep an emergency fund in case of unexpected expenses or unemployment. But does it have to be in cash? Personal finance author Jonathan Clements presents a mathematical argument for using your 401(k) as an emergency … [Read the rest]

Two Ways to Get Rich: Save Like Crazy, or Start a Business

Tom Corley performed a study examining 233 self-made millionaires over 5 years, and found that they fell into one of two categories as outlined in this Business Insider article: They were fanatical savers. They sold something. This … [Read the rest]

Store-Bought Rotisserie Chicken: An Economic Analysis

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Costco's $4.99 rotisserie chicken is about as famous as their $1.50 hot dog and soda combo. It's cheap, but is it a good value? Priceonomics went out and did an real-world experiment using store-bought rotisserie chicken. You may have noticed … [Read the rest]

OpenSignal LTE Network Comparison: T-Mobile vs. Verizon

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OpenSignal (mentioned previously) crowdsources cellular coverage and speed maps directly from individual network users. They recently released the August 2016 update to their State of Mobile Networks USA Report, which was based on 2.8 billion … [Read the rest]

The Vanguard Effect on ETF and Mutual Fund Expenses

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The following chart taken from this Bloomberg article by Eric Balchunas shows the drastic difference in expense ratios when Vanguard has an offering in an asset class or not. Like Walmart arriving in a new town, the entry of Vanguard into a … [Read the rest]

Infographic: Income vs. Cost-of-Living For All 50 States

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The NY Times has an article called What $100 Can Buy, State by State. You know I can't resist a good 50-state infographic. The first chart is basically a cost-of-living comparison. The findings shouldn't be too surprising. Stuff and … [Read the rest]

Discount Mags Employee Discount Sale

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DiscountMags.com is having an Employee Discount Sale which actually has some good prices for many popular magazines. Their prices also don't require auto-renewal, which I like as you don't have to remember to cancel and it allows you to easily shop … [Read the rest]