Opportunity Lost? A Financial Conversation Overheard At The Movies

Posted by Brock | March 2, 2015.

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Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“How is it I only have $3 left?” I heard a female voice say from behind me while standing in the movie theater concession line.

“Because you buy stuff?” I heard a different voice respond.

I pretended to be just generally looking around the theater’s atrium as I snuck a glance at what appeared to be a mother and daughter. The line was long, so I listened to the conversation continue as I looked straight ahead. The daughter was home from college for the weekend, and was checking her checking account balance online using her cell phone. Their interaction kept bouncing between the checking account balance, and what they were going to purchase once they got to the front of the line.

Eventually the daughter got to the source of her lower than expected account balance. There had been a transaction of $103 at a business that sounded likely to be a bar or restaurant. She admitted to her mother to being familiar with the establishment, but didn’t remember spending $103 there. The conversation then took a surprising twist.

“The date of the transaction is January 28th. Why would I have been there on a Wednesday?” the daughter said.

  • I just shook my head as my mind went into overdrive with a couple of thoughts:

Clever Posts Of The Week – February 27th

Posted by Brock | February 27, 2015.

I can tell that Spring must be getting close because I’m getting sick of shoveling the driveway.   As Winter wears on, it takes me longer and longer to do it.  We received a few inches of snow this week, and it took me over two days to gather enough motivation to go shovel it.  I’d driven over the snow plow hump at the end of the driveway a dozen times, hoping that the next day would be warm enough to melt the snow.   Unfortunately, with highs this week barely above zero, the snow remained.  So last night I finally got out my shovel and cleared what snow hadn’t already been compressed into almost rock like hardness by our vehicles driving over it.

I think I’m going to just hibernate in my house until Spring arrives.  At least I’ll have great personal finance posts to read.  Here are my favorites from the week!

  1. What is an IPO? from Money Rebound
  2. Personal Finance Can Be Delightfully Boring from Messy Money
  3. 6 Reasons You Should Never Lend Money to Anyone from Avant Credit
  4. 3 Surprising Ways to Find Furniture On a Budget from Suburban Finance
  5. Four Things To Cut Out Of Your Budget Now If You Need To Save Money from Gen Y Finances

Brought to you courtesy of Brock


It’s Time For My Teenager To Get A Job

Posted by Brock | February 25, 2015.

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Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My son turned sixteen in January, and within a week had his driver’s license. He’s been enjoying his new found freedom driving to school, going to the movies, and hanging out at his friends house without needing to rely on my wife or myself to drop him off or pick him up. But with his new found freedom also comes expenses.

  • Insurance : After discounts for good grades and completing a safe driver program, our insurance is increasing by about $30 a month.
  • Gas: The gasoline needed for him to drive around isn’t free.

We given him a month of cost free driving, but now it’s time he learn that the privilege of driving comes with a price tag. There are many ways for teenagers to make money, so I started pointing out “Now Hiring” signs as we ran errands around town. I told him that if he wanted to continue to have use of our car, he was going to have to get a job. It wasn’t the first time we had talked about him entering the workforce. He wanted to start earning some money not only to be able to pay for the costs of using the car, but also to have money to do things with his friends, and to save up for new computer parts and even his own car.


Clever Dude Reviews the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Limited

Posted by Clever Dude | February 24, 2015.

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When the last generation’s redesigned Hyundai Sonata hit the scene here in 2010, the media (including myself) were blown away by the exterior design. It took the “four door coupe” design from the Mercedes CLS and applied it to a 5-seat, mainstream family sedan (while the VW Passat CC copied it first, it was a 4-seater). It was a beautiful sedan, and very unexpected from the Korean manufacturer, Hyundai.

Fast-forward five years later, and Hyundai just released its 7th-generation 2015 Hyundai Sonata. I’ll admit that when I first saw photos of the concept last year, I was disappointed. I thought Hyundai scrapped the sexy look for something akin to a Ford Taurus, but then I saw it in person. I’d say the Sonata now looks more premium and “grown up”, both inside and out.

Great interior illumination

My week-long tester was the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Limited with the 2.4L 4-cylinder engine. Base price was $26,525, but the must-have options for Tech Package and Ultimate Package were checked. Throw in floor mats and freight, and the as-tested price was $32,510. Definitely a leap from past Sonatas, but definitely very competitive in the mid-size market today, especially considering the features offered.

Power

20150205_143335While I initially thought I would be getting the 2.0T (turbo) model, which has 60 more horses and 82 more torques than the 2.5 model, I wasn’t at all unhappy with the performance of the “weaker” engine. At cruising speeds, I didn’t hear the engine at all, and I only heard a minimal buzz when accelerating off an on-ramp. At idle, though, the engine sounded rough sometimes, but it was usually only when the thermometer hit under 20 degrees outside. Basically, you’d notice the difference in noise if you’re used to a V-6 engine, but I didn’t miss the power (and I welcomed the fuel economy!).


5 Clever Ways to Cut Back on Your Monthly Bills

Posted by James | February 23, 2015.

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Image via Flickr by Janitors

Even though the economic recovery is still in bloom, lingering financial concerns exist for most people. Every dollar saved is a dollar earned, and the purpose of this article is to save you more money. Here are five ways to cut back on your monthly bills.

Negotiate with a Competitor

Arguably the most insidious business practice in corporate America today is the constant increase of rates. This premise relies on consumer inertia. The company that sells you their service presumes you are so laid back that they can raise the cost of using their service sans any pushback from you.

The easiest way to counter such behavior is to find a better quote elsewhere. In the digital era, it’s simple for you to shop around and find a similar service offered at a lower price from a direct competitor.  At this point, you have an exceptional bargaining position. You can either accept the better offer or return to your current company with this quote. If they want to keep your business, you can expect buzzwords such as “customer loyalty discount” thrown around as they implicitly acknowledge that they have attempted to overbill you.

Complain About Service

Few of the services you use on a consistent basis are perfect. Some are less reliable than others. When mistakes occur that reduce your quality of service, make note of them. If an error is particularly egregious, tell the company immediately. If not, make a list of grievances and then contact them once you’ve noted at least three entries.


The Unbelievable Return Policy At Costco

Posted by Brock | February 23, 2015.

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My wife loves her electric blanket. She naps under it during cold winter Sunday afternoons while I shake my fist at televised football games, and she snuggles under it while we watch our favorite shows together. She had one years ago when we first got married, but it had eventually worn out. I got her a new one for Christmas over a year ago, and it’s been a trusted companion ever since.

When she accidentally spilled something on it, we tried to spot clean it, but the stain just wouldn’t come out. There were instructions for washing it, which included disconnecting the electric cord, using the delicate cycle, and letting it air dry. I followed the directions exactly as printed, but when she tried to use her warm, cozy friend, the light blinked ominously and the blanket remained cold.

My wife was understandably unhappy. Even though the blanket was over a year old, she felt that we should be able to wash the blanket as instructed and expect the product to still work. She remembered that the blanket had come from Costco, and decided to call them up and see if they would allow us to return the blanket as she was not satisfied with it’s quality.

My wife has had good luck convincing retailers to let her return or exchange products, but I wasn’t so sure if she would be successful this time. We had no packaging or receipt. Plus, I had been in Costco recently and knew that they were not currently carrying the blanket in stock.