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Archive for October 2007

Basic Steps To Find the Best Prices When Shopping Online

Published 10/31/07  (Modified 11/24/13)

By MoneyBlueBook

I do a lot of online shopping shopping. In fact, I'm looking to buy a cheap laptop soon and will absolutely buy it online. Other than groceries or items I need right away, I try to plan ahead and purchase everything through the internet where I can often obtain the best deals.

Here are the basic steps I take when I am looking to buy something online at the best price possible:

1) Use Froogle

My first stop is to compare prices using Google's Product Search engine. The program used to be called Froogle but Google changed the name a few months ago. Personally, I liked the old name better and still refer to it as Froogle. Not a whole lot of people use it, but I use it often.

Froogle works the same as your usual Google search engine except it compares prices based on your keyword search. It scours the web for store and auction prices and surprisingly yields a decent size list of results. It gives you an idea of the range of prices online retailers are charging.

2) Use eBay

After I have a general idea of the range of market prices, I visit eBay to run keyword searches of the item I want to buy. As I mentioned in an earlier eBay related post, it is always best to run several searches using different combinations of keywords to maximize your chances.

After factoring in the cost of shipping I compare the eBay total selling prices with the Froogle prices including shipping to

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How To Avoid Speed Traps, And Not Get Pulled Over For Speeding

Published 10/30/07  (Modified 3/9/11)

By MoneyBlueBook

Over the years I've spent way too much money paying speeding tickets and appearing in traffic court to contest routine moving violations. Despite my recent out of state $1,000 speeding ticket, my in-state traffic record continues to indicate zero points and ironically, my auto insurance premium even recently went down. Due to the nonuniform enforcement of out of state traffic violations, I've been lucky so far in terms of my insurance premium not going up, but eventually my luck might run out. As someone who preaches the wisdom of frugality, I have to include speeding tickets and moving violation penalties such as reckless driving, improper lane changes, and running red lights, as examples of frivolous and terribly unnecessary expenses that ought to be prevented.

Speeding tickets are a complete waste of your hard earned money. The best way to avoid having to pay the high price of an expensive speeding ticket is to avoid getting a speeding ticket to begin with. Obviously, the no-brainer way to avoid getting one is to simply not speed. But if you're like the majority of people who safely travel above the limit on occasion, here are strategies I've learned to adopt that help to minimize the chances of being pulled over by the police for speeding or getting nailed at a speed trap.

Tips On How To Avoid Getting Busted By Traps and Cops

1) Don't Speed - This one is obvious. If you don't speed, you have nothing to fear. Unless you are a baby boomer over the age

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Clothing Shopping For Bargain Hunters Like Me

Published 10/30/07  (Modified 3/9/11)

By MoneyBlueBook

I'm your typical guy. I enjoy following sports and I generally find shopping to be tedious and sort of boring. I can handle online shopping, but clothing shopping at a brick and mortar store for me is a major hassle and I always feel like I'm getting ripped off. $80 for a sweater...oh my. $65 for a dress shirt...goodness gracious. $65 for a pair of khaki pants...holy...

The scary part is that these are prices for men's clothing. I can only imagine how much women have to pay for their clothes. Historically, women's clothing have always been much more expensive than that of men's. Who knows why - material maybe? But that's a discussion for another later day.

I Prefer Shopping Online

So where does a reasonably frugal person like me shop? Well I'm definitely a point and click shopper. I do the vast majority of my shopping online since it's much more convenient and substantially cheaper as well. But clothing is one of those things that you really need to try on before you buy. Fit is important and frequently, clothes look different online and in magazines than they do when you're wearing them.

Malls Are Not My Thing

I enjoy the mingling feel at I get when I'm at the local mall but I really can't stand shopping there for too long. Shopping at the mall wears me out physically and I just don't have the stamina for it. The funny thing is that I like to run and have no problem running half marathons, but

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Stay Away From Department Store Credit Cards

Published 10/29/07  (Modified 3/9/11)

By MoneyBlueBook

You know the routine. You walk up to the retail or department store checkout counter to pay for the stuff you're going to buy and the sales lady asks you if you'd like to receive 10-15% off your purchase today by applying for a department store credit card. Especially if you are buying a lot of things, it's always a big temptation at the checkout line, but signing for any store credit card like Macy's, Bloomingdales, or Home Depot just to get a one time discount may hurt you in the long run. You may save a few dollars now but it is likely to weaken your FICO credit score and be counter productive to any debt reduction plans you may have. They may be very easy to apply and qualify for, but they are nothing but debt traps, especially for college students looking to build credit.

It Will Ding Your Credit Score

Even if you intend to promptly pay off all balances, the mere act of applying for credit will hurt your FICO score because it is considered a hard pull credit inquiry. Although the hit is not significant, if you make it a bad habit of frequently applying for department or retail store credit cards to take advantage of one time discount offers, this could spell trouble. Every credit inquiry hurts your score so it is best to stay away from this temptation.

Department Store Credit Cards Have High Interest Rates

If You are trying to get out of debt or have been relatively

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I've Given Up On Having A Paid Costco Membership

Published 10/28/07  (Modified 3/9/11)

By MoneyBlueBook

Well after a few years of having Costco membership, I've finally decided not to renew it anymore. The cost savings I got from buying in bulk simply wasn't adding up to justify the membership fee. I love their cheap tasty pizzas but I'm fed up with having to drive such a long way to get to the nearest store and having to put up with the extremely long lines at the checkout counters. At Costco, I probably end up spending more money than I ordinarily would, buying products that I ordinarily wouldn't buy, and wasting more time waiting in line than I would at a nearby grocery store, like Giant or Safeway. I think they are a great company, but they need to open up more stores and organize a quicker checkout system.

Buying in Bulk Is Only Worth It For Large Families Or Those Who Have A Need To Shop In Large Quantities

I currently do not have my own family so buying in massive bulk doesn't make too much sense for me. If I was married with kids that might be a different story since the kids would probably help to consume everything.

Most of the items at Costco come in huge portion sizes and you often end up buying mega size items that you wouldn't ordinarily buy. Have you seen the size of their cereal boxes? It's huge! Yes, buying in bulk allows you to spend less money per serving but it's only worth it if you are able to consume it within a reasonable

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Life Comes At You Fast - Be Organized and Financially Prepared

Published 10/27/07  (Modified 3/9/11)

By MoneyBlueBook

You never know what life will chuck your way, so you should always be prepared for anything. If you keep your finances and paperwork in order, you'll be in better shape to handle anything unexpected.

A few nights ago I received a sudden flurry of phone calls and e-mails from family members with sad news. My ailing grandfather, who had been bedridden in the hospital for more than a year due to a stroke, suddenly took a turn for the worse and was nearing his end. As the oldest grandson, I had a familial duty to be there. But since my grandfather lived overseas, getting to him at a moment's notice wasn't going to be easy. Things started to get hectic immediately as I began to make plans to fly overseas to join my parents at my grandfather's side as soon as possible. I wish I had anticipated earlier and made better preparation for the unexpected.

Here is how you can stay ready and avoid the chaos that follows an emergency situation:

Keep Important Documentation Up To Date And At the Ready

If you have family in another country, including Canada and Mexico, make sure your passport is valid and ready for travel at all times.

In my case, I had one major problem. My U.S. passport had only one more month before it expired. Since most countries require that your passport be valid at least 6 months beyond the date of your trip, I would not be able to travel internationally unless I got it renewed as soon

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