25 August 2009

3 Surcharges Added into my Grocery Bill

Store loyalty rewards cards cost me money.  Safeway and Albertsons and I'm sure others in different parts of the US give gas discounts.  Having $1.30 per gallon savings off my next fill-up left me wondering how much extra I've spent to earn those rewards.  With credit cards a store will increase costs for everyone to cover expenses of processing those cards.  Albertsons is likely charging everyone extra to more than cover the gas fill-up savings.

By shopping at a store with loyalty or rewards cards with gas bonuses i am likely paying 3 surcharges that i might be able to avoid.  My prices must cover the loyalty discounts.  My prices must cover gas rewards.  My prices must cover credit card transaction fees.  Not many stores manage avoiding passing these fees onto their customers.  The only large retailer i know that avoids these surcharges is Costco.  They charge a membership fee that most stores do not charge.

What can you do to avoid these surcharges?  You may not want to.  I pay to shop at Costco and pay for these surcharges because i am spending less for the items i buy than shopping somewhere else that will not charge them.  Some smaller shops might save you some or all the surcharges.  Only avoid these charges if you are saving money by avoiding them.

Let us know what you do in the comments.

22 August 2009

Personal Finance Advice Readers

Welcome Personal Finance Advice readers. This morning PFAdvice became the first financial blog i read that linked back to here. If this is your first time here i started this blog March 30th and have averaged 1 post here a week. I also post on different blogs on other subjects. Look around and feel free to tell me if you want a post on a certain subject.

21 August 2009

A Start to Living Organized

One of the shows i watch is Clean House.  I am always amazed at how much stuff people have that just clutters their homes.  You will see people that talk about having to hide their shopping from their spouse.  People who have so much money sunk into things that they are willing to have a TV show come and sell off their junk to reorganize their lives.  You don’t need a TV show to reorganize your life.

To get started organizing there are three things you need

  • A calendar – The calendar is for keeping track or important dates and events.  Organization for the days of the year.
  • A planner – If the calendar keeps the days of the year in order the planner tracks your events throughout the day.  Organization for the time in the day.  Most calendar software applications will double as as both the calendar and planner
  • A system for filing things – You may need 2 systems.  One for files on your computer and another for items around your home or office.  A place for everything and everything in its place.

I recommend starting first with just a calendar.  Add important dates, birthdays, anniversaries, work functions, school events, etc.  Then move on to the planner.  If you are using Outlook of Google Calendar do these two steps together.  Now move onto just one area of your house.  Move everything that does not belong in that area out and keep it organized for one week.  You can move on to the rest of the house later.  We are talking about a start here.  Once you know you can keep it organized you can move onto a second area.

Once you get started you will begin to have less stress.  Having an organized area leaves you feeling better about yourself.  You will have more time not having to search for things.  You will be able to declutter items you have multiple of or no longer need.  It will be easier to identify these items.  You can save money by eliminating duplicate purchases.  There are plenty of benefits to living organized.  The best might just be not appearing on a show like Clean House where the entire nation knows of your organization and clutter problems.

10 August 2009

$50 a Month Plus Free HBO

My in-laws finally called the cable company to try to save some money.  I have suggested this a number of times.  Without knowing how much they were paying i was still confident they could save money.  They signed up for the Comcast Triple Play and saved money over their current bill.  They currently had local phone service from Qwest and had cable and internet from Comcast.  The Triple Play package moved phone to their Comcast Bill.  The promotion also included free HBO for a year.  This left a larger cable package and a smaller bill.  As you likely guessed they saved $50 total.

If you are interested in lowering your cable bill there are some things you can do.

  • Identify what specials cable and satellite companies are running so you know where you can negotiate.
  • Call your provider and ask what specials they can give you.  Some companies have packages and specials for current customers.
  • Tell your provider that you can sign up with their competitor for the best deal you have found.  Ask them to match the deal.
  • If they can’t or won’t match the deal tell them you want to cancel.  You will usually get transferred to someone that can make you a better deal.
  • Most cable or satellite providers have 2 layers of management for those who want to cancel.
  • If your current provider won’t try to work out a deal then jump ship.  You will be much better off.

07 August 2009

Out of Town Job Interviews

I had 2 out of town job interviews last week.  Job interviews are hard work.  I found places to stay with family to cut down on costs.  I budgeted for food and gas.  My first interview was in Medford, OR with Providence Medford Medical Center.  The interview was Wednesday morning.  I met with the manager and the team i’d be working with.  Having worked there before i knew everyone in the department that i did not interview with.  I went and grabbed some breakfast after the interview in the hospital cafeteria and was joined by Robert who i had worked with before.  The interview went well.  I even accounted for the fact that i’d get no new applications completed on that day.

Thursday was another interview.  This one was with the North Central Education Service District located in Condon, OR.  This is a small town of just under 1000 people.  I planned such that i’d be able to interview and make it back home the same day.  Getting to town i realized this was not somewhere i wanted to live.  You can only learn so much about a place online.  Knowing i did not want to live there i still did the interview.  Practice is always a good thing.  Even knowing i would turn the job down i did not account for one thing.  Waiting to hear back.  I accomplished very little in the time i was waiting for an answer.  I heard back this morning.  Maybe now i can be productive again.