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11 Tricks stores use to fool consumers

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

Here is a really good post over at SavingAdvice.com. They detail 11 tricks that stores will use to trick shoppers into thinking they are getting better deals than they really are. All of these are really good things to look out for.

  1. Putting the amount off in bold to hide the actual (crappy) price.
  2. “Sale” items that really aren’t.
  3. Handpicking comparisons to other stores.
  4. Buy one get one free, but you pay twice the price.
  5. “Specials” that aren’t due to price.
  6. Charging more per unit for buying in bulk.
  7. Using different units for comparison on similar items.
  8. Charging more for the store brand.
  9. Promoting lower prices when the package size is reduced.
  10. Using fine print to limit specials.
  11. The low-price guarantee that isn’t.

All of this is explained at SavingAdvice.com. Definitely a good read for anyone who wants to be a savvy shopper.

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October 8, 2007 Posted by | Basics | Leave a comment

How to handle a financial windfall

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

How often to do hear about the poor sucker who was just scraping by, wins the lottery, and a few years later is right back to the same financial position he was in before (if not worse) due to poor decisions? As someone with a background in accounting and finance, it is the story that really makes me bang my head against the wall and ask the question “Why?”.

Thankfully, this is not one of those stories – in fact, it is just the opposite. In the August 27 issue of The Sporting News, columnist Steve Greenberg writes about Philip Ozersky. Although you may not know his name, you would certainly know the source of his good fortune. On September 27, 1998, Ozersky caught Mark McGwire’s 70th home run ball, and 15 weeks later sold it at auction for a cool $3 million.

So did Ozersky go out and spend all the money on fast cars and other frivolous items? Nope! According to the article, his big expenditures from his windfall were:

  • A new house, across the street from his sister.
  • A vacation home in Florida. The two bedroom villa is mainly for use of his father who had a debilitating stroke years ago and likes to escape the Midwestern cold five months a year.
  • Frequent trips to Arizona to visit the in-laws.
  • Season tickets to the Rams and Cardinals.
  • About $250,000 in charitable donation.

No new fancy cars, women with plastic parts, drugs, or the other typical trappings of the “lucky” recipients of a large windfall. He still works at his old job in genetic research and drives the same 1994 Ford Probe he bought after he graduated from college.

It is nice to see good things happen to people with enough sense to make the most of it, even if he is a dirty Cardinals fan! GO CUBS! =)

August 26, 2007 Posted by | Basics | Leave a comment

Got My T. Rowe Price Family Records Organizer!

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

I had a nice little surprise sitting in my mailbox today. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a free CD-ROM that was available from T. Rowe Price that was to assist you in organizing your personal and financial information. The idea is that if anything were to ever happen to you, a loved one would be able to have a complete snapshot of your affairs and be able to more easily attend to the business of your estate.

I haven’t had time to really delve into the program, but at first glance it looks very well put together. Included are sections for investments, banking and credit cards, property and mortgages, other loans and debt, insurance, health, wills, and funeral arrangements. At some point I will give it a test drive to see how well it really works, but my initial impressions are very positive.

If you want to request a copy of the CD-ROM for your family, you can do so here.

July 19, 2007 Posted by | Basics, Tips | Leave a comment

Free Family Records Organizer CD-ROM from T. Rowe Price

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

Imagine you were to get hit by a bus or sat on by Rosie O’Donnell tomorrow? Would your loved ones be able to close out your affairs? Would they know every place you have squirreled away money? As someone who has had to piece together a financial life after a loved one’s untimely death, I can tell you it is not a fun task.

T. Rowe Price is offering a free family records organizer CD-ROM on their website, that they claim “offers a single place for you to capture important personal information about your investments, banking and credit cards, insurance, and more with the intent of passing this information along to your beneficiaries or keeping it in a safe place.” You can request a free copy of the CD-ROM on their website here.

I had planned on developing a tool like this myself, so I am curious to see how good this resource is. However, if it is as good as advertised it would be a great gift to your loved ones should you pass unexpectedly, and you can’t beat the price.

July 2, 2007 Posted by | Basics, Tips | 5 Comments

SNL Clip: Don’t Buy Stuff You Can’t Afford

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

I found this great clip from SNL. The skit is for a book entitled “Don’t Buy Stuff You Can’t Afford”. Absolutely hilarious!

Clip found here at Daily Motion

Sadly it seems this is a completely foreign concept to most people these days.

May 9, 2007 Posted by | Basics, Humor | 1 Comment

AICPA: Americans 25-34 “Not Financially Prepared”

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

I was reading in the January 2007 issue of the Journal of Accountancy this morning (yes, I realize it is May, I’m just that far behind on my reading) and found an interesting write-up of a study of the savings habits of 25-34 year olds. While the AICPA study found that in the last forty years average income for households headed by someone 25 to 34 had increased by nearly a third in 2004 dollars, savings and asset accumulation has not kept up. Interestingly enough, the median real net worth of Americans in this age group fell drastically from $6,788 in 1985 to only $3,746 in 2004. The mean real net worth only increased slightly from $25,115 in 1985 to $26,109 in 2004.

The executive summary published by the AICPA sums it up pretty well,

“The workforce of tomorrow is not financially prepared for the world they will live in.
Many are clearly relying on the solvency of federal programs. Many feel they can wait
until later to worry about the rest of their lives. This generation needs to be encouraged
to be more financially responsible about their future. Saving is not just about retirement.
It is about taking control of life and having the flexibility to deal with the many challenges
and opportunities ahead.”

My message to those of my generation: GET YOUR CRAP TOGETHER! Stop spending every dime you make and then some on material junk and then expect your family or the government to bail you out. I certainly don’t want the government stealing more of my money in the form of taxes to support you later on because you decided to piss your money away today on that new Mercedes you can’t afford or the overpriced designer clothes you had to have. Practice a little bit of self-control, stop worshiping at the altar of material things, and take some responsibility for your future! I’m saving my pennies for my family’s comfort down the road, not yours!

May 4, 2007 Posted by | Basics, News/Trends | Leave a comment

Online Personal Finance Tutorials from the LDS (Mormon) Church

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

It isn’t my intention to make my religion part of my personal finance blog, but I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more popularly known as the Mormon Church. One of the topics that has been mentioned on several occasions by the leaders of our church is prudent resource management, including prudent management of financial resources (money). Understandable considering that the rate of bankruptcy filings in Utah (home of a large percentage of the membership of the LDS Church) is one of the highest in the country. The Church has published various guides and pamphlets on the topic, and has even started a website dedicated to resource management called ProvidentLiving.org.

One of the newest resources on this website is an online tutorial discussing the basics of personal finance. The tutorial does have an LDS flavor to it (as would be expected), discussing concepts like tithing and including quotes from various LDS Church leaders. However, the tutorial has a lot of great information for members and non-members alike. The tutorial can be found online at:

http://www.providentliving.org/channel/0,11677,1709-1,00.html

April 2, 2007 Posted by | Basics, Debt, Education, Religion, Savings | Leave a comment