Missed Opportunity: Physical Activity Rewards Program

Posted by Brock | July 31, 2015.

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Image courtesy of tuelekza at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I learned this week that I’ve made a mistake. I didn’t take the time to learn all the details of the changes to my benefit package in 2015, and discovered that I haven’t taken full advantage of a physical activity program.

Each year, my employer offers several healthy living programs. Employees can elect to participate in two of the options, earning a $150 rebate for each of them. One of the programs promotes physical activity and can be utilized two ways:

  • Track physical activity with the requirement of being physically active 4 days a week for 10 weeks. Once the requirements are met, a $150 rebate would be included in my next paycheck.
  • Receive a Fitbit One or Fitbit Flex for free. Employees can then use the Fitbit to help them reach their fitness goals.

Obviously the point of the program is to encourage participants to become physically active. The incentive given is either $150, or a free Fitbit. While getting a free Fitbit was enticing, I had every intention of tracking my activity and earning $150. What I found out this week from a coworker is that I really didn’t have to choose.


What Would You Do? The Increasing Hotel Room Rate Edition

Posted by Brock | July 29, 2015.

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Image courtesy of Kittisak at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I had an experience last week that I want to share and have you give me your thoughts. I was surprised at what happened, but I was even more surprised to watch my wife, who’s always looking to get the best price on everything, willingly pay more for a hotel room.

We were making late hotel reservations for an event out of town, wanting to secure a reservation at the same hotel some friends were staying at. The reservation assistant initially said that they were completely booked, but then admitted that they did have two non-standard rooms available. By non-standard she meant that they were “fantasy suites” in a 1950’s theme. The rooms had an actual ’57 or ’59 Chevy in them, converted into a bed.

The weekend rate was $159, which was the same price as other hotels in the same vicinity. My wife told them we were coming for a charity bike rally hosted by my brother-in-law’s Army unit and asked if we could get a military discount. The receptionist typed away for a minute before she quoted us a new price of $89.

We booked the room immediately, and cancelled another reservation we had made at a different hotel.


How to Help Loved Ones Manage Their Money

Posted by James | July 27, 2015.

This post is a contributed post from USA.gov.  See their Financial Self-Defense Kit for advice on how to build financial confidence as well as safeguard your finances.

Helping loved ones manage money can be a huge source of stress. Here are some tips from USA.gov to help lighten the burden.Managing your finances can be hard. Managing the finances of an older relative or friend can be even harder. You want to honor your loved one’s wishes and respect his or her boundaries, but at the same time you need to act in the person’s best interest. It can be hard to know where to begin or whom to trust. Not only are there legal obligations that come with this responsibility, but the added emotional stress of caring for an older family member or friend can feel overwhelming.

So let’s start with the basics: What is a power of attorney? What does it mean for you, and what should you look out for? Being informed, prepared, and alert will help make a difficult situation as comfortable as possible for all involved.

Be Informed: What Is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a written document in which one person gives legal authority to another to make decisions about his or her money or property. If you’ve been named to manage money or property for someone else under a power of attorney, you are the fiduciary. It doesn’t matter if you’re managing a small amount of money or a lot, or if you’re a family member or not—you’re now legally responsible for managing that money or property for the benefit of that person, who is known as the principal.


Convenience Store Chronicles: Three Ways To Save!

Posted by Brock | July 27, 2015.

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Image courtesy of NayPong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Convenience stores are not known for having great deals. A convenience store is where you buy a late night pizza because they’re on the nearest street corner, or where you pick up a twelve pack of soda because you’re already there getting gas. The price is a little higher, but you don’t care because it’s convenient and saves you time and effort.

My experience over the weekend just might change that perception.

After filling up my van with gas, I headed inside to pay. Just as I was about to walk away from the cashier, he handed me a flier and said, “Here’s something for your next couple of visits.” Once back in my car I took a look at single page ad that contained several coupons that I knew I would use.

  1. 7 cents per gallon discount : Filling up my 20 pound van tank would save me $1.40. Not a huge money saver, but if it saves me money, I’ll use it.
  2. By One Get One Free Pizza : This convenience store carries a type of frozen pizza that my family really likes. Priced at about $7 per pizza, it’s a bit more expensive than most frozen pizzas. A buy one, get one free coupon effectively cuts the price in half.
  3. $1 off 12-pack Of Soda : This essentially brings the price equal to my grocery store. But, it does allow me to pick one up at the convenience store when I’m crunched for time and not over pay.

What Should I Do With This $100?

Posted by Brock | July 24, 2015.

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Image courtesy of scottchan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve got $100 I just don’t know what to do with.  It’s not cash,  it’s $100 credit at Restaurant.com that I received as a gift. If you’re not familiar with Restaurant.com, it’s an online service that offers discounted certificates to restaurants. For example, right now I can buy a $25 certificate to a nearby Mexican restaurant for $10. Sometimes, certificates can be purchased at an even deeper discount.

If Restaurants.com offers such great deals, why don’t I use my $100 credit?

There are a couple of reasons why I’m having trouble finding a way to use my credit:

Restrictions

While seemingly great offers are available, there are restrictions placed on the use of the certificates by almost every business. For example, the Mexican Restaurant that is offering a $25 certificate for $10 requires a minimum purchase of $37.50, and only one certificate can be used per visit.  Some businesses also do not accept the certificates on the weekends. A visit to any restaurant is still going to cost me money. Sure, it’s going to reduce my bill, but it’s really more like buying a coupon than it is a gift certificate.

Selection

I live in a city of over 100,000 people, and there are exactly 5 restaurants that are advertised through the service. All of them are fairly new, except for one. I get the feeling that restaurants use the service to help get the word out about their business, and get people in the door. I know very little about the restaurants that I can select from.


Summer is Over For Retailers, Which Means Great Bargains for You!

Posted by Brock | July 22, 2015.

bargains, sale, retailers

Earlier this year, my wife and I were looking for some new patio furniture. Thanks to my wife we scored a great deal. We’ve been enjoying the new furniture throughout the summer whether we’re entertaining friends and family or it’s just a family s’more night around the fire table. As the summer has progressed, my wife determined that she really wished we had purchased an umbrella to create shade when it was sunny and hot.

After work yesterday my wife found out that Summer is apparently over on July 20th because all the seasonal summer items are on clearance. The number of items in stock were low, but if we looked hard enough we might just find a great deal.

After a few phone calls, we headed out to a couple of stores and scored some great deals.

  • Patio Umbrella #1 : We found a patio umbrella at Bed, Bath, and Beyond that would provide perfect shade on our deck which gets a lot of morning and afternoon sun. The original price was $149.99, but it was on clearance for $49.99.
  • Patio Umbrella #2: We also have a large cement patio off the back of our home where we do most of our entertaining. It gets a lot of evening sun and requires a bit larger umbrella. We found an umbrella on clearance at Costco, regular price $239.99, but sale price was a mere $79.