Extreme bargain hunters have something in common—timing. They’ve got it down to a science and I’m talking about specific days and even the exact time of day to get great bargains.
They wait patiently and then swoop down to pick up bargains unknown to the novice shopper. Thankfully, they’re willing to talk and share their secrets.
HOTEL. The best time to snag a great deal on a room is at 4 p.m., local time on Sunday, says CBS Travel Editor, Peter Greenberg. This is when you will have the best shot at speaking with an employee whose job depends on keeping rooms filled, who can also negotiate room rates.
There is no reasonable way to shield your children from the glitz and glamour of easy credit. It’s everywhere with all its seduction and allure. So if you cannot shield, neutralize!
Years ago, I watched an effective television documentary in which juvenile delinquents went into prisons, drug-treatment centers, and the like to observe the dark side of the life they were heading toward. The intention was to scare them out of their wits—to scare them straight.
In the same way these kids were jolted by reality, you can scare your kids out of a life of consumer debt by revealing the seduction and lies behind the glamour.
TELL STORIES. There is nothing as effective as true stories when it comes to scaring kids about the dangers of consumer debt. Share credit horror stories with them as often as you can (stick to stories you read in newspapers, newsletters, or other published sources rather than gossip). Let your teen or older child draw conclusions and suggest what would have been a better course of action. Let them be the ones to point out how foolish it is to live beyond your means. Follow up with an explanation that when people are not financially knowledgeable, they are easy marks for the debt trap.
Gift-giving is surely on everyone’s mind as we head into these last days before Christmas. It’s a wonderful holiday tradition—one in which I participate fully because it brings me so much joy.
Earlier this week, I opened my email box to find a really nice messages from several readers seeking help with gift suggestions. One is in a quandary regarding appropriate gifts for his administrative staff—a group of sharp, young professionals both male and female. He wants to acknowledge each with an appropriate gift—something that won’t be so dorky it shows up in next Spring’s garage sale or worse, the trash. And he also wants to stay away from any gift that could be seen as too personal. His budget it about $30 per gift.
Of course I was excited to accept the challenge (I do have that shopping gene) and went right to work, contacting several of the sharpest, smartest young professionals I know, asking for their opinions, suggestions and help. Together we came up with suggestions of gifts that each of them would thoroughly enjoy receiving from a supervisor, boss—or anyone, for that matter.
While I was in gift-guide mode, I came up with great ideas for young children— moms and dads, too, just in case you’re behind the eight ball and need quick, realiable suggestions. It’s not too late, but you have no time to waste.
My fifth-grade teacher, Mr. Migaki, taught us it’s important to learn from history so we don’t have to repeat mistakes made in the past. He made that lesson real when he said that last year counts as history, and so does last month and last week.
Mr. Migaki said that something is only a mistake if you can’t fix it. Sometimes he would let us retake our tests to fix our mistakes. We got do-overs! He’d grade our papers with a red pen, but if the do-over fixed the original mistake (he never, ever gave us the right answer) he would applaud the success by crossing through the bad grade, turning it into an A.
I couldn’t help but recall this wonderful teacher and give thanks for that life lesson when I got this message from Jenny …
Dear Mary: I have to tell you, in response to 3 Simple Ways to Beat Retailers at Their Own Games, how I fell victim to a good salesman the other day. Fortunately, there’s a happy ending.
I was shopping for groceries and the announcement was to gather around at the end of Aisle 2 in two minutes for an unadvertised giveaway—if you got there right away, you got an eyeglass cleaner cloth, which was promised to be your ticket to something special later, as it was first-come, first-served. You know the drill, I’m sure!
Shopping is my thing. I love the thrill of the hunt, that feeling of discovery and the joy of a bargain. I find it satisfying in ways I can’t fully describe. I want to experience the feeling as often as possible. Shopper’s high is no joke. It’s real, it’s palpable and it’s addictive.
Shopping got me into a lot of trouble. In just 12 years I ran up more than $100,000 in consumer debt—most of it on credit cards. Eventually all of it came crashing down and nearly took me with it. Thankfully, that crisis became the catalyst to turn my life around.
It took 13 years to repay all of the debt. I learned a lot about myself in the process but mostly that the satisfaction I got from shopping was short lived. It was fake because it vanished in less time than it took me to get the stuff to the car. But that just set me up to do it again and again because the small bursts of joy I got from shopping were worth the pain that always followed. Crazy I know, but absolutely true.
I could so easily go back to my old ways, and that’s scary. So, what keeps me on the straight and narrow? It’s you! You’re my shopping addiction rehab program. Paying off that monstrous debt and these past 25 years of writing, researching and communicating with you on a daily basis have become the best maintenance program I could hope for. And the best part? I get to use my shopping skills nearly every day, now in a constructive way.
A few days ago I got an email from Jeannine who asked simply, “What is the best inexpensive Bluetooth speaker?” Just like that, I flew into shopping mode—that thing I love to do because it brings me uncanny satisfaction. But here’s the deal: I’m not shopping for myself. I’m not spending my money or creating a bit of debt. I’m researching for Jeannine and that frees me from all of the personal negative stuff. I get to experience the joys of shopping that I love so much without any of the remorse or regret, guilt or shame. That’s authentic, lasting satisfaction. I love my job.
Retailers work hard to get our money. They offer special promotions and put other tactics into play, even hiring human behavior specialists to figure out our shopping habits and how to get us to spend more.
By having a few tricks of your own, you can be a smart consumer, foil those plans and save big.
GRAB THE LOSS LEADERS THEN LEAVE
A loss leader is something retailers sell so cheaply, they’re willing to lose money just to get you through the door. Once there, studies show that half of all of your supermarket purchases will be unplanned. That means this store is doing all it can to help you go nuts with unplanned spending—grabbing anything that looks good.
Know this going in. Concentrate on getting only the loss leaders and grocery-listed items you need, then make a beeline for the checkout so you can get out of there as quickly as possible.
BUY SEASONAL ITEMS AT CLEARANCE PRICES
Retailers are in the business to make big profits on full-priced items. And they know you can’t resist new items to decorate your home or outfit your family.
For years (and years), I lived under a dark cloud of worry that I would end up financially destitute—a bag lady.
A study conducted by Harris Interactive for Allianz Insurance Group reveals that I’m not the only one. In fact, most of us have felt that way, not because we’re broke, but because we don’t have confidence that we know how to hang onto our money. And that makes us timid, worried and financially insecure.
We don’t have to accept financial insecurity as some kind of life sentence. And that constant and gnawing fear of becoming destitute? Forget it! We can do something about this.
Financial confidence is a choice. It’s a matter of changing bad habits and choosing to learn simple financial principles. Then by consciously applying them over and over again those principles will become automatic responses—financial habits.
Are you ready to make 2017 your best money year ever? Here are four simple things you can do starting today to improve your financial confidence—and take control of your money.
As people age, certain activities of normal day-to-day life can become challenging, not that I know anything about this from personal experience or anything. I’ve only heard, got it?
Take ordinary floor cleaning for example, known to many as “mopping.” Or how about your basic can opening. Both can become challenging for grandparents and other seniors, so I’ve been told.
I’m pretty excited to let you know about some solutions to these and other similar dilemmas and when I say solutions, I’m also referring to gift ideas. Do not assume that your grandparents would be anything but overjoyed with any of the following.