1. BEST FREE OFFICE SOFTWARE – LibreOffice, the creation of former top developers of Apache OpenOffice, has become the front runner among free software for producing documents, spreadsheets, slide shows and more.
2. BEST STREAMING DEVICES– Petite and reasonably priced (starting at $50), ROKU streaming players route online video and audio services (such as Netflix and Pandora) to just about any TV.
3. BEST HEALTH INSURANCE RESOURCE – At healthcare.gov, you can learn about all of the health insurance plans availablein your area with details about benefits, deductibles, co-payments,restrictions and more.
4. BEST HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE CALCULATOR – Go to Accucoverage.com, input details about your house, pay $7.95, and you’ll immediately receive an estimate of your home’s replacement cost.
5. BEST MONEY MARKET ACCOUNT – Earn 1.05% interest on your cash with the Sallie Mae Money Market account (https://banking.salliemae.com). No minimum or monthly fee and check writing is available.
6. BEST ONLINE ADVICE – Financial Engines, designed by the Nobel Prizewinning economist Bill Sharpe, for do-it-yourselfinvestors who want to know if their retirement-savings plans are on track. Provide your information and get an estimate of your retirement income. The tool also offers suggestions for meeting your goals. The cost is $150/yr.; $300 to include taxable accounts.
7.BEST TARGET-DATE FUND -These funds hold a mix of assets geared to your investment time horizon. All 12 target-date funds at VANGUARD carry low expense ratios of0.17% to 0.19%, helping to boost nine of them to the top 20% of their categories over the past three years.
8. BEST SOURCE FOR NEW THINKING– Feed your brain cutting-edge articles on wealth (the list is long and often surprising) with the SimoleonSense.com blog.
9. BESTS SOLO 401(K) RESOURCE– Sole proprietors with no employees other than a spouse can contribute up to $51,000 to a solo 40l(k) in 2013 ($55,000 if they are 50 or older). Find info and vendors at www.40lkhelpcenter.com.
10. BEST ROTH IRAs FOR KIDS– Turn earnings into future nest eggs with this powerful tool. Any child who earns income from a job can contribute to a Roth IRA. E*Trade (www.etrade.com) has a Roth IRA with no minimum-balance requirement or annual maintenance fee.
11. BEST CHARITY RATER– Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org) rates more than 5,500 charities, making it the first and best stop for would-be donors. Recently it expanded its ratings to include best practices.
12. BEST INVESTING APPS– Put the latest news and research at your fingertips with these 2 apps: BLOOMBERG – If you depend on financial news, you’ll love this easy-to-navigate app with its real-time quotes and the same breaking economic and financial news that Bloom berg’s worldwide team of journalists produces for their Web site. MORNINGSTAR’S free app gives you all the basic data on a stock plus a snapshot of the company’s financial health.
13. BEST PODCAST – Freakonomics, the podcast, explores themes from parenting to hitchhiking using clever economic analysis and expert interviews. Download it on iTunes or at http://freakonomicsradio.com.
14. BEST FUND WITH A LOW MINIMUM– Homestead Short term Bond Fund (HOSBX) invests in a mix of mortgage securities and government and corporate bonds. It requires an initial investment of$500.
15. BEST FREQUENT-FLIER PROGRAM– American AAdvantage makes it easy to earn miles through its partner airlines, credit cards and retailer relationships. Straight-forward upgrades from low-fare economy to first class with 15,000 miles plus fees
16. BEST FUND FOR DIVIDENDS– Vanguard Dividend Growth (VDIGX) hunts down undervalued companies with growing dividends.
17. BEST FUND NEWSLETTER– Value Line Investment Survey ($598/yr.) gives you access to research on 1,700 U.S.-listed stocks. On average, the letter’s model portfolios gained 5.4% annualized over the past ten years through September 2012.
18. BEST GO-TO ECONOMIST – Make economist Ed Yardeni’s witty and wise blog (http://blog.yardeni.com) your first stop each morning for the lowdown on the Fed, the markets and our dysfunctional government.
19. BESTTRAVEL HEADPHONES– Bose MIE2 In-Ear Headphones ($130) offer the depth and fullness of sound found in pricier I and bulkier models but are small enough
to fit in a shirt pocket. They can even switch from songs to phone calls in a snap.
20. BEST ON·THE·GO INTERNET PLAN – Virgin Mobile operates on Sprint’s data network. Charges are $35/mo. for 2GB of 3G data, $55/mo. for 5GB of data with a no-contract Broadband2Go plan. 4G service areas get unlimited 4G data.
21. BEST MONEY-SAVING SHOPPING SITE – If you love a deal, you’ll love Cheapism.com. lt lists low-priced products in 9 categories (including electronics, kitchen and travel) and tells you which are worth buying.
22. BEST ETF FOR TRACKING GOLD – iShares Gold Trust (IAU), with its 3-year annualized 17.8% return, is a good inflation hedge, tracking the daily movement of the price of gold bullion.
23. BEST AIRFARES FORECAST SITE – Bing Travel gives you confidence you’re getting a good deal on plane tickets with its “price predictor.” Plug in your desired itinerary and your results will include recommendation to buy now or wait for a better fare.
24. BEST CAR PRICE SITE – Want a new car below sticker? TrueCar.com tells you what a good (and great) price is, based on what others paid. You can even lock in a price locally.
25. BEST TABLET FOR KIDS– For kids 5 and older, get the Kindle Fire ($159). It includes beefed up parental controls.
The $199 Fire HD allows you to set time limits for tasks such as reading or playing games.
26. BEST E·READER Nook Simple Touch ($99). This entry-level e-reader has a crisp, non-backlit display that’s great for outdoor reading. The 6-inch touch screen is easy to navigate. Plus, you won’t see “special offers”- namely, ads – on the Simple Touch.
27. BEST MUSIC STREAMING – SONGZA streams play lists to its Web site and iPhone and Android apps. Best part: no audio ads.
28. BEST SITE FOR HEALTH INSURANCE QUOTES eHealthinsurance.com provides personalized quotes and policy details from many insurers based on your age, location and health
29. BEST STOCK FOR DIVIDENDS– AT&T (T) is a cash machine disguised as a telecommunications conglomerate. Formed from SBC Communications and Southwest Bell, this wireless service giant should boost its dividend at a 3% annual clip through 2017.
30. BEST WINE DISCOUNTER – Premium-quality discounted vintages arrive at your door (often with free shipping and no minimum) with Lotl8.com. Membership is free.
(Note: Several states do not allow wineries to ship wine to consumers.)
31. BEST CREDIT CARD FOR POINTS REWARDS – The Chase Sapphire Preferred card gives you 2 points per dollar on travel and dining, 1 point per dollar on all other purchases, and 40,000 bonus points if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. Use your points for cash, gift cards, merchandise and travel. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year.