4 Money-Friendly Ways to Keep Close to Distant Friends

Slides 6x6 on lightbox - winter scenesIf you're like us, you've reconnected with a lot of old friends and family over the holidays—and, now, you're plotting for ways not to wait until next year before you connect again. When friends and relatives live far away, though, visiting often can quickly become pricey.

Think about it: Flying out to visit just three loved ones twice per year can easily cost more than $1,000 (and, that's if you find seriously cheap tickets!). We've scoured the web for free and inexpensive ways to feel like you're together, even when you're not.

TV Time

Do you miss the time when all of your friends were in the same place to enjoy a television night? Don't worry, Joost.com has the answer with the "Watch What Your Friends Watch" program. Add your favorite programs to your Joost feed and then upload your contacts from email or Facebook. Soon, you and your far-away friend can be watching the same "The Simpsons" episode together while video-chatting about it. Nothing could be closer to being together than actually being together.

Video Cards

Even if you're a regular user of video-chat, there's something special about creating a video just for your loved ones. Most Macs now come with iMovie, which lets you edit your own footage. Don't have a camera on your computer? Make a video through Dfilm's website and share it with your friends.

Digital Photo Albums

Creating a scrapbook can often cost as much as $75 (there's the cost of the book, but also paper, pretty pens, decorations, and more, depending on how fancy you get), not to mention postage for shipping it to a loved one. Instead, try photo sites like Flickr. Scan and upload those embarrassing high school pics that you don't want to share with anybody but your bud, mark your account "Private" and then invite your friend as the only other member. It's like a secret club of memories for only the two of you, even when you're hundreds of miles apart.

Overseas Apps

A great I'm-thinking-of-you-even-though-you're-far-away app is Pegshot, a newly-developed program for your smartphone. With it, you take a picture of your current location, it automatically figures out where you are, and alerts your friends to your whereabouts. So, tell your friend to snap a pic of the Sistine Chapel for you, and she'll automatically be able to share it with all of her social networking sites, too.

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