Houses Cheaper Than Cars

Posted on Tuesday 25 November 2008

I recently read an article stating how, at least here in Atlanta, houses can be purchased for less than even a used car.  There were numerous listings for under $20K.  The prices were continually being lowered with no takers.  Just another indicator of the sad state of our economy?

As always, I’m keeping my eye out for potential rental property.  Is anyone else considering buying a home (for residence or for rental) right now?

savvy @ 12:05 PM
Filed under: Homebuying
Where Will YOU Be on Black Friday?

Posted on Monday 24 November 2008

Creative Commons License photo credit: Just Ssome Film

Where will you be on Black Friday?  I will be snuggled under the covers at my in-laws’ house.  I don’t like battling crowds, particularly in the cold and at the crack of dawn.  There’s nothing in particular that I’m in the market for right now (well maybe a mini-laptop) but if there was, I would much rather take advantage of the cyberdeals out there.

Are any of you hitting up the Black Friday sales?  Any tips or tricks for the uninitiated among us?

savvy @ 9:23 AM
Filed under: Uncategorized
Do the Bump!

Posted on Wednesday 19 November 2008

Creative Commons License photo credit: ronnie44052

The holidays are my favorite time to travel. No, I’m not a glutton for punishment. Dealing with long lines, flight delays and novice travelers really aren’t my idea of a good time. But now is a great time to get bumped. I’ve gotten many a free flight this way. If you’re in no particular hurry to get to your destination, it can be well worth your while. So here are a few tips to improve your chance at getting bumped as well as making it as painless as possible.

  •  If possible, don’t check any luggage. You’re more likely to get bumped if they don’t have to pull your luggage from the plane. This also gives you more options for getting on the next flight out. For example, when I lived in the Bay Area, I was open to being routed to any of the airports in the area (SFO, OAK and SJC). This gave me three times as many options.
  • If you must check luggage, put the essentials (including toiletries and a change of undies) in your carry-on. This makes it less of a hassle if you do choose to get bumped. I once got bumped off the last flight of the day and spent the night in Houston (IAH). I got a voucher for a free ticket, a night in a hotel and a first class seat on the first flight out the next morning. It was late at night and nothing was open or near the hotel. Imagine how UNpleasant that would have been without toiletries and fresh undies.
  • Get to the airport early. Not only will you be less stressed but you can find out when you check in if the flight is full. If so, you can go ahead and volunteer to bumped. They generally won’t know if they need you until close to the last minute but this ensures you’re at the top of the list. There have also been occasions where they didn’t need to bump me but I got a meal voucher and/or upgrade simply for being willing.
  • Come prepared and comfortable. If you have to sit around the airport for hours and perhaps walk from gate to gate, tight jeans and stilettos may not be the best choice. However, be sure not to let comfortable = looking like a bum. Whether you like it or not, better dress often equals better treatment. In addition, you’re more likely to end up in first class if you look like you belong. I also make sure to have plenty of reading material, laptop, iPod, etc. with me to make the time pass more quickly.
  • Know what you’re entitled to and don’t be afraid to ask but also be reasonable. Getting bumped to a flight that’s an hour later is generally not going to get you a free flight. There are regulations in place that address the level of compensation that you can expect to receive. If your delay is two hours or less, you’ll usually get $200 max. A four hour delay will usually be worth $400. However, don’t be afraid to ask for meal vouchers that can be used within the airport or an upgrade. You’re not necessarily entitled to these things but you never know, they might just say yes.
  • Last but not least, be polite! In addition to “getting more flies with honey”, it’s just the right thing to do. It’s not the airline employees’ fault that the airlines overbooked or that there are mechanical or weather problems. Everyone is already frazzled enough as it is without you adding to the situation.

That said, happy travels this holiday season.

savvy @ 8:00 AM
Filed under: Travel
Tis Better to Give Than Receive

Posted on Tuesday 18 November 2008

Creative Commons License photo credit: skampy

During this time of year, and especially in this economy, I am reminded of how financially blessed that I am.  I have more than enough money to meet all of my needs as well as be able to give some away.  Mr. Savvy and I tithe as well as donate money and time to a variety of organizations throughout the year.  However, I realize the holiday season can be especially stressful for those who may be in dire financial straits.

There is an organization in our community that provides Thanksgiving meals and Christmas gifts for families in need.  I make it a point to provide for at least two families each year.  While I agree that assistance is probably needed throughout the year, I can’t imagine not being able to do something simple like have a nice Thanksgiving dinner for your family.

Do you give of your time and/or money at this time of year, or any other?  If not, why not?

savvy @ 10:20 AM
Filed under: General Finances
Money Magazine Winner!

Posted on Friday 14 November 2008

The contest is over.  Congrats to Carla.

savvy @ 10:31 AM
Filed under: Contests
The Financial Games We Play

Posted on Wednesday 12 November 2008

A game of chess
Creative Commons License photo credit: Leonid Mamchenkov

For several months, I’ve been debating whether or not to get a Blackberry. While it would definitely be a great convenience, it isn’t a NEED. While I can justify the purchase price by using my ‘fun money’, I can’t justify the increased monthly bill. I currently pay $30.80/month and the Blackberry plan would increase that amount by ~$27/month. So what’s a girl to do?

My own self-imposed solution is that I can’t get the Blackberry until I figure out a way to increase my income by that $27/month or decrease my current expenditures. I could pretend that if I got the Blackberry, I would decrease my clothing or dining expense by $27 each and every month but I know that’s not true. Therefore, I assigned myself the task of finding a FIXED and MEASURABLE expense to decrease. I decided to attack one of the ‘heavy hitters’ aka car insurance.

Somehow I discovered (I think it was through another pf blog) that AAA offers car insurance. I had no idea. I submitted a quote through their website and an agent responded to me the next business day. The AAA premium is a whopping 28% less than what we currently pay and the coverage is comparable. That would cover the change to my monthly cell phone bill and then some. I haven’t pulled the trigger yet though, because I want to verify that AAA can provide our umbrella insurance as well. We currently use the same provider for auto and umbrella insurance and I’d like to keep it that way.

What tips and tricks do you use to get what you want while keeping your financial ship on course?

savvy @ 7:46 AM
Filed under: Budgeting andFrugality andGeneral Finances andInsurance
Target Makes It Easier to Keep Track of Your Spending

Posted on Monday 10 November 2008

Most sources agree that one of the first steps to taking control of your finances is to track your spending.  I’ve done this for years – first, to get a better grip on my finances and now, just to see where the money goes.  Traditionally, it has been a bit tedious to separate the categories (i.e. personal care, household, etc.) when you shop at a store like Target where you can buy any range of things.  However, Target must be on the PF bandwagon because they’ve started making it easier.

I finally got around to entering (into Microsoft Money) some receipts over the weekend.  I was pleased to discover that Target had already broken out the categories for me – accessories (an umbrella), clothing (shoe inserts), grocery (Halloween candy, snacks and mints), health and beauty (lotion) and stationery/office (tealight candles).  With the exception of the candles, which I would categorized as household or miscellaneous, I found the Target categories to be spot on.  Have you noticed any other stores doing something similar?  How do you keep track of your spending, or do you?  If not, why not?

savvy @ 9:21 AM
Filed under: General Finances
Another Money Magazine Giveaway!

Posted on Wednesday 5 November 2008

I’ve been away on travel for the past week so sorry for being MIA.  To make it up to you, I’m hosting another giveaway.  I subscribe to a number of financial magazines – Smart Money, Kiplinger’s and Money Magazine. I think Money is the best for the average consumer, someone who needs good advice but doesn’t have a particularly complex financial/tax situation. Therefore, I’m giving away a free one-year subscription to one lucky Ms. Money Savvy reader.

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment (with valid e-mail address) on this post or post about my contest on your blog.  Comments are worth one entry and a blog posting is worth five entries.  On next Thursday, November 13th, I will announce the winner, which will be chosen at random. The winner will have three days to contact me with their mailing address or the subscription will go to a ‘runner-up’.  Good luck!

savvy @ 6:02 PM
Filed under: Contests