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Money Coach

November 2010 - Posts

  • Tips to make shopping on Black Friday a success

    Next week we celebrate Thanksgiving. Which means we also observe another holiday tradition the following Friday – Black Friday. Millions of people hit the stores the day after Thanksgiving, hoping to score huge savings on everything from electronics to toys to clothing. Here are some tips to help make your Black Friday successful.

    • Check out the ads. Your local paper will be as stuffed as your turkey with ads, coupons and circulars. This will be your No. 1 source to local Black Friday savings. It will also help you organize your day to maximize your savings, since many stores offer special deals that are time specific. 

    • Do your research before Friday. If you are hoping to scoop up a deal on Black Friday on a big ticket item, go ahead and do your research ahead of time. A bad product is a bad deal, no matter how cheap it is. Being knowledgeable about the products you want to buy will help you avoid being sucker-punched with loud advertising for poor products. 

    • Compare prices. Utilize the Internet to assist you in comparing prices. Compare the options included with the produce. Some retailers will low-ball the advertised price in a stripped-down product, and you can be charged extra for the necessary parts that will make the product perform as needed or expected. 

    • Look for early bird shopper discounts. The early bird will get the best-priced worms on Black Friday. Stores offering early-shopper specials usually run the deals from 5 to 11 a.m. and with no rain checks, which means once they run out of products, you're out of luck. Scanning the ads and planning your rout based on your buying priorities will be important.

    • Beat the crowds with night owl discounts on Thanksgiving. Internet shoppers can beat the early birds by shopping online during the pre-dawn hours of Black Friday. Many retailers will post their Black Friday specials, which can be ordered online and picked up at your local store. Special web-only deals will also be offered. 

    • Bring the ads with you. Many stores offer a low-price guarantee, but you will likely be required to produce a copy of the ad showing the product advertised for less. Most retailers will not meet Internet prices, but it doesn't hurt to try.

    • Know store policies. This can help if you have to return items. Many retailers include restocking fees and shorter return deadlines. 

    • Ask for gift receipts. These will include a description of the item, but not the price. You can include this receipt in the box in case the recipient wishes to return the item.

    • There is no bargain in running up high credit card bills, but with proper spending disciplines, using the right charge card can be of value. Many credit card companies entice consumers with free benefits which can include free warranties, return protection and sale price protection.

     An enormous amount of advertising, both locally and online, can be confusing to the average Black Friday shopper. To maximize your outing, develop a plan and do your research early – and you'll find your Black Friday shopping day will be a success. You just might survive without a scratch.

    Posted Nov 18 2010, 01:38 PM by moneycoach with no comments
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  • Tips to make your holiday shopping safer

    The holiday season is underway and for most of us, that means the holiday shopping season is in full swing. But consumers need to be aware of scammers who will use the busy-ness of the season to their advantage. Here are some tips to help consumers protect themselves.

    • Be leery. Don't open attachments or click on links if they seem at all suspicious. Doing so could let spyware or viruses in. If you have a shred of doubt about the legitimacy of an attachment, delete it and call the friend who sent it to verify it.

    • Invest in protection. Buy a full suite of security software, including anti-virus and anti-spyware software. That should help keep programs out that log your keystrokes to steal passwords and financial information.

    • Stay up to date. Your Web browser and operating system are also vital to protecting your information. Make sure both are configured to get updates from the manufacturer automatically. With a PC, look for a box to check in your preferences or control settings.

    • To steer clear of Web sites that look legitimate but are not, don't click on links to get to e-commerce sites. Type the URL directly into your browser instead.

    • Once you're ready to check out, be sure that you're on a secure page. The address should begin with "https" and not "http." The "s" indicates an encrypted connection, so even if your financial information is intercepted, it can't be read. A gold lock at the bottom of the page indicates the same thing.

    • Your computer is more vulnerable on a public wireless network, so don't go there. 

    • Pay with a credit card, and you'll be liable for no more than $50 in fraudulent charges. Using a debit card is stickier. You may want to think about this before you go shopping.

    • Get a one-time number. Several credit card issuers will give you an account number that becomes invalid after one use. 

    • You can store your credit card or bank account information with a third-party payment system and let that site deal with the store. PayPal is most widely used, but Google Checkout is similar, although fewer sites accept it.

    Using these tips can help you have a more successful – and safe – shopping experience this holiday season.

    Posted Nov 11 2010, 01:57 PM by moneycoach with no comments
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  • Cut your car insurance bill to save money in your budget

    People all over the country are cutting back and slashing their budgets to make ends meet. One of the areas many are looking at is car insurance. There are more than a dozen ways to reduce your premium. 

    First of all, you could call your insurance company and lower your liability coverage to the minimum required by state law, drop your collision and comprehensive coverage or keep it but increase your deductible to $1000, or drop your uninsured motorist coverage.

    You can likely chop your car insurance bill in half by reducing your liability coverage to $25,000 (bodily injury per person), $50,000 (bodily injury per accident) and $10,000 (property damage per accident). The insurance industry normally recommends a 100/300/50 formula. 

    But you should remember that dropping your car insurance to the bare minimum opens you up to risk. If you have a house, savings and investments, they could be put at risk if you cause an accident where damage exceeds your insurance limits. And if you've dropped your uninsured motorist coverage, a driver with no or inadequate insurance could wreck your finances, as well.

    Whatever you choose to do, there are more ways to reduce your auto insurance bill. 

    • Comparison shop to be sure you get the best deal.

    • Buy a low profile car; one that won't cost so much to repair or insure.

    • Take advantage of low mileage discounts

    • Consider insurance costs when moving.

    • Ask about car safety discounts

    • Buy your home and auto policies from the same insurer.

    • Find out about group discounts.

    • Maintain good credit.

    Posted Nov 04 2010, 02:20 PM by moneycoach with no comments
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