Thursday, December 17, 2009


As the shopping season begins, we're thinking ahead. Should you happen to have any money left over, we think you'll find the following article helpful:

We also check two websites regularly:


Happy Shopping!

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Thursday, December 10, 2009


It's a great time to be on the hunt for bargain wine. Discounts abound. Store managers who want to clear their warehouse or balance their books are cutting deals. That means we all should drink well this holiday season, no matter what we can spend.

If you're in your favorite wine shop and you see a closeout or discontinued wine, ask about it and if it sounds good to you, buy a bottle. Go home and drink it and if you like it, then get a case or 2 or's a good way take advantage of a bargain.

Here are some examples of good deals. Remember: everyone's taste is different and prices vary from store to store. If you happen to have a Trader Joe's in your area, bargains always abound there.


NV Poema Brut Cava ($10): A solid performer in the cava category. Aggressively fizzy, with apple and grey mineral flavors and a curt lemon-pith finish. A bit rounder mouthfeel, despite impressively low alcohol. Take it to the table. (Importer: Kobrand.)

NV Segura Viudas Brut Cava ($10/magnum): Quite simply, the bargain find of the season. This historic Spanish sparkling producer may be a familiar name, and the wine's all ripe apple and yeast, but all you need to know is this. Magnum. Ten bucks. I believe the translation is, "Instant holiday party."

NV Villa Sandi Il Fresco Brut Prosecco ($13): A balanced, refreshing effort from a respected producer. Fresh orange and tart candy flavors come in a lighter style, but refined bubbles and some deft sweetness (despite its brut label) round it out in a very pleasing way. (Importer: Folio Wine Co.)


2008 Alta Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc ($10): A classy, delicious effort from Australia. Freshly herbal and peach-filled, with ripe kiwi and grapefruit. Not as austere as Marlborough, but with weight (from some lees contact) and bouncy citrus fruit that keeps giving. (Importer: Specialty Cellars.)

2008 Cave de Pomerols Hugues Beaulieu Coteaux du Languedoc Picpoul de Pinet ($10): An always-fun pick from one of the more successful co-ops in the south of France. Picpoul is one of the obscure Rhone grapes, and this vintage is crisper than some, but there's enough weight to put it on the dinner table. White peppercorn and a floral lift to tangy, sharp lemon and saline flavors. Remember this label. It delivers. (Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils.)

2008 Larry Cherubino The Yard Whispering Hill Vineyard Mount Barker Riesling ($6): Exhibit A of why you always should scour the bargain aisle. Cherubino, onetime winemaker for Tintara and Houghton, created this standout Australian Riesling from vines planted on their own roots in 1987. With beautifully austere stone and lemon pith scents, and laser-like acidity, it will improve for up to a decade. (Importer: Vintage New World.)

2008 Dashwood Winemakers' Selection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($10): Here's the price-killer for those wanting to save a few bucks on their Kiwi fix. Quintessential Marlborough grass notes, with shaved green papaya, pomelo and apricot skin. Racy and focused, with enough weight to match to a meal. (Importer: Pasternak Wine Imports.)

2007 Hedges CMS Columbia Valley White ($12): Washington's Hedges family makes affordable blends under the CMS label, in this case standing for Chardonnay, Marsanne and Sauvignon Blanc. Another reliable value brand to seek. Pretty chervil and buttercup highlights atop the fresh Meyer lemon and Anjou pear. Some decent weight to it, making it ample to take on fish or chicken.

2008 McManis California Viognier ($11): The McManis family and their winemakers deserve credit for a Viognier that seriously outperforms. Harvested mostly from their own vineyards in Manteca and made in steel tanks, it offers substantial peach nectar and wildflower, with perfect typicity. A citrus-zest kick provides that lively edge Viognier so desperately needs. Fantastic value.


2008 Redtree California Pinot Noir ($9): A gulpable Pinot crafted by industry veterans Bob Broman and Roy Cecchetti (Pepperwood Grove), sourced from an unlikely Pinot spot: Lodi. It's this year's runaway success. Bright, true Pinot flavors of Bing cherry and watermelon skin. Straightfoward and juicy, and exactly as it should be.

2008 Castle Rock Central Coast Pinot Noir ($12): Spicy, ripe and performing above Castle Rock's average. Raspberry jam and plum skin, with an honest earthy hint lurking in back but also a touch of sourness. You can find it discounted below $8.

2008 Feeding Frenzy Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($15): A bargain-priced Pinot with great geography. Dense and darker. Blackberry, orange peel and a clear oak note. Not exactly subtle but ample and bold.

2007 Vinos Sin-Ley M5 Yecla Monastrell ($13): The latest Monastrell (aka Mourvedre) from a Spanish project ("Without Law") to make wines outside the country's traditional rules. Leathery and deep, this bottling from the emerging Yecla region is packed with pleasing bramble fruit and grippy tannins, and given depth by a bright mineral edge. (Importer: Ole.)

2007 Domaine des Escaravailles Les Sablieres Cotes du Rhone ($13): Vibrant berry notes from the Grenache, with a white pepper overtone and a bark-like grip on the palate. Full and food-friendly, exactly what a Cotes du Rhone should be. (Importer: Jeff Wilburn Selections/Wine Agencies Inc.)

2006 Jade Mountain La Provencale California Red Wine ($10): A blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignane and Viognier from a pioneering California Rhone name, now controlled by Diageo. Packed with purple fruit, plus a rich oak overtone and dry-herb accents. Well assembled and gutsy, with a dark, spicy, warm finish.

2006 Montevina Amador County Zinfandel ($8): An appealing new look for this well-known Sierras label. It's solid, reined-in Zin, with spicy plum and cherry, and sweet echoes on the finish that make it user-friendly.

2007 Volver Paso a Paso La Mancha Tempranillo ($9): An outperformer from Spain's La Mancha region, one of importer Jorge Ordonez's screaming Iberian deals. Distinct smoke and plum skin, with mocha, espelette pepper and bright bramble fruit. Tempranillo's classic tannins show up at the end, but mostly as a boost for food. (Importer: Jorge Ordonez/Henry Wine Group.)

2008 Maipe Andean Culture Mendoza Malbec ($13): A hot wine in a hot category, which makes it easy to find around town. Consultant Alberto Antonini (Altos Las Hormigas) also helped propel this new runaway hit. Scents of smoky leaves, violet, currant and huckleberry, with a bright surge of fruit. A mineral edge to the tannins adds depth. (Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils.)

2006 Tin Roof Cellars California Merlot ($10): A solid effort from winemaker Melissa Bates for one of the value labels run by Jackson Family Wines. Distinct oak flavors are balanced by solid black tea and bright plum, with all the pleasing softness of Merlot.

2007 Manifesto North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon ($15): The Manifesto wines are a case of a star winemaker - Jamey Whetstone - focusing on good fruit from a lesser-known corner, in this case Suisun Valley, due east of Napa. They're a great success, and this solid, drinkable Cab is exactly what it should be: with solid oak scents, plus tobacco and dried branches, plus dried currant and juicy blackberry fruit. The screwcap's a plus.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009


We saw this article and thought we'd share. In the best of times, teaching children about money can be a dicey proposition. In this scary economy, it's even more complex. Don't be afraid. What they don't know can hurt them.

Take a look:

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Thursday, November 26, 2009


Before the new year arrives, it's time to take a look at your health plan coverage. Have you used up your deductible for the year? If so, can you take care of health issues before the end of the year and the new deductible starts? Is a Physical Exam included in your plan? If so, have you taken advantage of it? Let's face it, folks, the Health Insurance business is ripping you off with high premiums and restrictions. Be smart and take advantage of everything included in your plan. You paid for it, so use it!

Here's an article from the Wall St. Journal that enforces what we're saying here:

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Thursday, November 19, 2009


Did you know that plain old cheap white distilled vinegar has more uses than salad dressing or pickling? (Do people still pickle???) People have even written books about it: "Vinegar: Over 400 Various, Versatile, and Very Good Uses You've Probably Never Thought Of" by Vicki Lansky for example.

Going back to ancient times, vinegar was used to disinfect wounds.

Vinegar can save you mucho bucks by not buying those expensive products in the store.

Here are a few basics:

1. Mix two parts vinegar with one part water and you have an all purpose cleaner that’s effective on just about everything, especially windows.

2. Add a cup of vinegar to your wash. It reduces the amount of soap you need, keeps colors vibrant, and reduces lint.

3. Got a nasty case of athletes foot? Apply vinegar full strength two times a day until the fungus goes away.

4. If you have annoying grass or weeds growing around your sidewalk or drive way, douse them with vinegar.

5. If you have anthills in your yard, pour full strength vinegar on them.

Did you know vinegar has an Institute? For even more information including 1001 tips, check:

Have we pickled your brain?

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Thursday, November 12, 2009


Who doesn't like a good coupon?

They really come in handy at the grocery store and we discussed it with you on a previous post:

Here's an article that tells all:

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Thursday, November 5, 2009


Do we have to tell you how much we like to save money?

By now, everybody seems to know the basics like free antivirus software or Hulu ( to watch your favorite tv shows. Enterprising cheapskates that we are, Team CHEAPIOSITY goes one giant step farther for you, our loyal readers. Betcha don't know all of these: - Free Long Distance and International Calling - Free Videoconferencing - Free Conference Calling

Google 411 - Dial 800/466-4411 (800/GOOG-411) - Free Directory Assistance - Free Automatic Voice Note Transcriptions - Turn Scanned Documents Into Text For Free - Read Classic Books For Free & - Free Texting/Messaging - Up to 100MB of Free Storage & & & - Free Music Downloads (We assume you already know about iTunes, Amazon and Rapsody's free downloads.)

That should keep you busy for a while. Happy web searching. Nothing's cheaper than free.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009


Some people take 'cheap' to a whole new level.

We at Team CHEAPIOSITY like to think of ourselves as crazy cheap, not Crazy Cheap. If you don't understand the nuances, check out these 51 unusual (!) ways to save money. If nothing else, they'll give you a good laugh! Take a look:

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Thursday, October 22, 2009


We told you about cheap movie tickets in our previous post:

Since we live on the cutting edge of cheapness and popular culture (a very cool corner), you can imagine our excitement when we came across a website that sells discount movie tickets to many of the major movie theater chains.

As you know by now, Team CHEAPIOSITY is obsessed with bargains. We recently checked out a site that promises daily bargains.

In a recent post, they mentioned Here's a link to the specific post: Bulktix offers various checkouts, and the poster found coupons for Amazon checkouts that offer additional savings. Since coupon codes tend to expire, we urge you search for BulkTix coupons on the web before you checkout.

If you live in a major city, movie tickets can cost upwards of $15 depending on the theater; using BulkTix could be a source of considerable savings. That said, BE SURE to check if your local theater is a participating theater before you order tickets.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009


New and Improved. Whether You Need It Or Not. That's the American way. Or at least it used to be. Perhaps it's high time for a new scaled-down, smartened-up approach to consumerism. Consider this before your next unnecessary upgrade. We've been brainwashed into thinking it's cool to have the latest version of everything, with all the new bells and whistles. But ask yourself and answer honestly: how many of these applications and features will you really use? Studies show that most consumers tend to overbuy; we wind up never using a lot of the applications. Manufacturers love it when consumers spend money, but more times than not, the basic model is all most people really need.

A few examples to prove our point:

1. You can buy a basic laptop computer for about $600. Desktop models are even less. A basic computer has enough memory and hard drive space for most users. Unless you really need all the multimedia extras for gaming, video editing, or other functions, DON'T SPEND THE MONEY.

2. High Definition TVs can run into the thousands of dollars. There are 2 different levels of picture resolution 720p and 1080p. Most HiDef Channels use the lower resolution, and differences to the naked eye are not that noticable, especially if the TV is 37-inches or smaller. However, the price difference will run you several hundred dollars more. DON'T BUY WHAT YOU DON'T NEED.

3. According to recent studies, average Cellphone Users use less than 20% of the gadgets on their phones. Do you really need a Smartphone? Must you get your emails instantly? Do you really need to be connect to the Internet at all times? Are you so busy that you must have your calendar and contacts with you at all times? Come on, guys, most of you know the real answer to those questions is no. There was a time in the not-very-distant past when these options weren't available, and we got along just fine. We checked our messages at home, and we used phone machines. We know that some people spend most ofo their time on the road, and these applications may come in handy and improve job performance....but answer honestly: Are you one of those people? Do you realize what all this unlimited access is actually costing you? BUY WHAT YOU NEED....FIND ANOTHER WAY TO IMPRESS YOUR FRIENDS.

4. Digital Cameras are another example. Are you an amateur photographer? Do you just want to point and shoot? If the answer is yes, what are you doing with a 12-megapixel camera? Unless you're a pro or have some great need to blow up your pictures to poster-size, 6-megapixels should be plenty. Do you realize that all those additional megapixels add alot of money onto the cost of the camera? BE A MEGAPIXEL MISER....BUY ONLY WHAT YOU NEED. YOU'LL STILL TAKE GREAT PICTURES.

5. Everybody's gotta have a GPS there days. Nobody knows where they're going anymore? Get real. Ever heard of a map? Or stopping at a gas station for directions? Or Mapquest? Just a basic GPS isn't good enough either. Do you really need access to bluetooth and weather and points of interest? Don't you just need to know how to get from Point A to Point B? If you wanna know the weather, here's a thought. Open the damn window and stick your hand out! Do you really need a GPS at all? Probably not. COLUMBUS GOT HERE ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE ATLANTIC WITHOUT A GPS. OF COURSE, HE THOUGHT HE WAS IN INDIA. BAD EXAMPLE. STILL, DON'T BUY YOU DON'T NEED.

Must we remind you that we're still in tough economic times? As always, Team CHEAPIOSITY reminds you: Save Your Money. Be An Educated Consumer. Stick to basics. Or Don't Buy At All.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009


Everyone loves a good flea market, and your cyberfriends at Team CHEAPIOSITY are no exception. Local flea markets abound throughout the U.S.A., but what about the rest of the world?

In many foreign countries, the dollar is week. Well, duh. If you're lucky enough to find yourself abroad, find a good flea market where you can save a bundle on souvenirs and lots of other cool and unexpected cheap stuff. Check out this article for some good solid international flea-market hints:

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Thursday, September 24, 2009


Team CHEAPIOSITY likes A lot. If you know how to work it to your advantage, like we do, you can save yourself a nice chunk of change (we like that A Lot) and stay at some nice hotels as well.....not to mention you'll save a bundle on airfare and car rentals.

We recently came across an article that demystifies the site for those who might be afraid of the unknown. Take a look and save some money:

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Thursday, September 17, 2009


Just as the brouhaha over the immensely popular Cash for Clunkers car-buying incentive program is dying down, here comes yet another ingenious government program targeting home improvement and energy efficiency upgrades on appliances. That's the catch; replacement appliances must to be Energy Efficient.

But don't panic. Here's all the information you'll need to take advantage of this ambitious and innovative $300 million Program ( and here's were you can find the Energy Star qualifiying appliances (

While the program is Federally funded, your State will determine the amount of rebate rewarded for each kind of appliance and how to apply for that rebate. We suggest you contact your local Utility Company or your State's Department of Energy for more specifics before venturing out into the marketplace uninformed.

As always, we remind you that you should only buy what you need. The best consumer is an educated consumer. Do your research before you buy anything.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009


Car repairs....a major nightmare for most of us. How do you find the right mechanic? How do know your car really needs the repair? Is the price quote fair or are you getting ripped off? We could go on, but you get the picture.

Team CHEAPIOSITY found this article from the wise people at Consumer Reports. The key seems to be keeping up with scheduled maintenance because if you let things go, repairs wind up costing you more in the long run. Hey, who do you think we are? Cliff Notes? Read the article yourself:

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Thursday, September 3, 2009


Dollar stores were once snubbed by most shoppers. The stigma of poverty made it embarrassing to be seen in one. Only those too poor to go elsewhere shopped there. With the economy tanking and no end in sight, frugality is now quite chic. Smart spenders earn serious cachet and save serious cash, but there are serious risks involved with the enterprise.
Dollar stores have helped themselves. They are cleaner and better lit. They are better organized and better able to serve their clientele, new and old. That change is paying off big time. Last year was a decidedly good year for these inexpensive stores. One of the biggest, Family Dollar, saw its stock value increase by 42%, while Wall Street darlings like Apple, Fedex and JPMorgan Chase saw their values plummet by double digits. Family Dollar was Standard & Poor’s highest performing stock. As the economy sours, dollar stores get sweeter and sweeter.
Dollar stores have filled a niche for years for inexpensive, off-market goods. The goods will not have a designer (or even familiar) names, but for the most part, they are practical. However, you still need some smarts to navigate the aisles.
There are deals, but be wary. Some dollar store products are not money savers and can even be dangerous. As always, every shopper needs to have the right information to make an intelligent decision. And as always, we're here to help.
TEAM CHEAPIOSITY recommends you stay away from the following dollar store products:

BATTERIES: Look closely at the package. Many dollar store batteries are knock-offs made in the Far East with inferior materials. They leak acid and don’t last as long as other, well-known brands. You may save on the up-front cost, but replacements or damage will cost more.

CHILDREN’S TOYS & JEWELRY: Consumer Reports has found many of these items to have high concentrations of lead. The countries of origin lack government oversight or have lax regulations. If you do want to buy, look at the label closely. Where was it made? Is it a brand name? Again, TEAM CHEAPIOSITY suggests staying away from these, **especially for babies and toddlers who put everything in their mouth.

PAPER GOODS: Again, these are typically an inferior product. Foam cups and paper plates are the most frequently cited example of bad dollar store products. You can find better deals and better products at a good warehouse store. (**Exception: party goods for little kids. If you find the princess or monster truck theme that your child wants, go ahead. You'll use them for about 10 minutes and the quality isn't much of an issue.)

VITAMINS: Name brand purchased by dollar stores may be a deal, but look closely at the expiration dates. Buying expired vitamins is no bargain at all.

FOOD: Tread carefully here. There can be some bargains, but read the entire label carefully, especially if you don't recognize the brand. Check not only the expiration date, but also the ingredients and where it was made. Then make an informed decision.
ELECTRICAL PRODUCTS: Knock-offs from other countries should be avoided. They are simply not up to the standards we are accustomed to. Look at the cords and the construction. If anything looks ‘off,’ avoid it. Check to find a UL label. That is usually a sign of minimum quality standards.
TOOTHPASTE: By now most of us have heard in 2007 how certain toothpaste from China had nasty chemicals in those seemingly innocuous looking tubes. Why take a risk, especially since prices at pharmacies and supermarkets are usually competitive?

PEANUTS: The recent salmonella scandal with peanuts and peanut butter should be a wake up call for everyone. But did you know that the first recall did NOT include dollar stores even though they had a bunch on the shelves? Our advice? Stay away from peanuts and peanut butter in dollar stores for some time.

Looking at the above list carefully; there are a few constants. These constants are good advice for any shopper, any place, any time. Read labels carefully. Check the expiration date. What is the country of origin? What are the ingredients? Does the package looked damaged?
Answering these questions makes your purchased smarter and safer.
Ask one more question. Can I buy this item someplace else for a better price and/or higher quality? Often, warehouse stores offer better prices for bulk purchases. You can stock up at sales in supermarkets, and drugstore chains.

So...what are the good deals in dollar stores?

GIFT WRAP: This is especially true right after a holiday. Prices for gift wrap, gift bags, ribbons, and greeting cards are remarkably low.

CLEANING SUPPLIES: Like many products, cleaning supplies go through fads or seasons. What may be the hot product one year quickly becomes dollar store shelf filler the next perhaps because the manufacturer has introduced a new scent. There is no reason to avoid these products just because they are no longer hot. They still will clean, as long as the expiration date hasn’t been reached.

KITCHEN ACCESSORIES: A sharp shopper can really score with kitchen accessories. Sometimes these items are simply out of fashion, sometimes they are imported and sometimes the dollar store scored on a close-out. Just be careful about where it is made and what you are using it for.
After a short brief period of use, kitchen towels or potholders will get stained and worn. No amount of laundering helps. Recycle them or toss them. Expensive or inexpensive, the same fate awaits. Dollar stores is the perfect place to pick up the fresh ones.

FOOD: Yeah, we know food’s in the be-very-careful category also, but you'll be fine if you read the labels. Good products at good prices can be found. Team CHEAPIOSITY found some very good coffee for $3.50 a pound that normally would sell for about $9.00 a pound. Be sharp, be savvy and scores can be found. If it is a huge score, why not stock up?

OFFICE/SCHOOL SUPPLIES: There is no expiration date. There is little chance for contamination from lead or other chemicals. So paper, erasers and many school/office supplies are decent deals. Again, compare prices at a discount office store before committing.
PLASTICS: Buckets, bins, organizers, clothes hangers, and the like can be good deals. If you expect heavy use though, spring for a national brand. If you just want to organize some things on a shelf, these will be fine.

One more caution: it's easy to toss a lot of little things into the shopping cart when prices are low. Dollar stores count on that impulse. Don’t clutter your life with useless deals. Resist the cute little vase, a spoon rest, or an auto deodorizer.

The most important thing to remember about dollar stores is simply this: These stores make a profit finding low priced goods and then selling them. The stores do not necessarily closely inspect the goods; they are not about quality assurance. It is your responsibility to determine where the goods come from, how long they have been around, and what’s in them. You're not shopping at Nordstroms. Caveat emptor. When shopping dollar stores, do so knowing you have to be the one making the smart decisions. You are not paying someone to do that for you.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009


You can search the web and get answers to just about every technical question you have.
Of course, just because you find it doesn't mean it's necessarily the right answer. To save you some time (and some money, of course) we've done a little research.

Before we begin, here comes the BIG DISCLAIMER: We don't endorse any of these sites. All we're saying is that they have a higher degree of accuracy than most. Just like everything else, it's up to you to do you're own research. Now that we've made our lawyers happy, here's the info:

1. - This is a great site for general technology stuff (i.e. just about anything electronic - computers, DVD players, digital cameras, and the list goes on.......)

2. - Digital Camera Reviews - in addition to CNET above, this is a good place to check out before you buy a digital camera.

3. - HDTV World is part of CNET and does a good job of telling you what HDTV fits your needs. (Yes, HDTV has its own world. Who knew?)

4. - HDTV Info Port - another site that tells you everything you ever wanted to know about HDTV but were afraid to ask.

5. - Antenna Web - you've bought the HDTV and want to know the best antenna to buy to maximize your reception......this is the place.

6. - Tom's Hardware: You want to know about computers and networking? Start here.

Additionally, take a look at one of our past posts:, which covers some tech stuff not included above.

Is your head exploding yet? We're sorry. Technology advances are coming fast and furious, and it's almost impossible to keep up. Whatever state-of-the-art gadget you buy today will be obsolete soon. When in doubt, ask a teen....they know all this stuff. But seriously folks, as we have repeatedly told you: Be an educated consumer. Before you spend a dime, do your research!

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Thursday, August 20, 2009


Has anyone ever had a good experience with movers?

Moving is one of the biggest nightmares in life. All the junk you have to sort through.....all the dust you've well as all that stuff you had to save that has never seen the light of day since the last time you moved.

That little litany reminds TEAM CHEAPIOSITY of a major moving disaster that happened to a couple of old friends. They did everything right, preparing for their move cross country from New York City to Los Angeles. They used a major nationwide mover. They carefully packed all their cherished possessions in bubble wrap and labeled everything perfectly. In their empty apartment, they waited patiently for their belongings to arrive. A couple of days passed, and a representative of the major nationwide mover called to let them know that their moving van was in an accident, flipped over and caught fire. Everything they owned was gone, every stitch, every page, every single thing EXCEPT for one item, a wedding gift that they hated!

True story. Why would anyone make that up? Recognizing that our friends move was catastrophic and probably quite rare, your knowing how to intelligently face one of life's bigger stresses can save you a lot of money and a lot of anxiety. And there's probably some comfort in knowing that no matter how badly any move of yours may go, you'll probably do way better than our friends did.

Here's some more useful tips:

Shop around
Moving costs vary wildly so be sure to get estimates from at least three moving companies before you hire someone. As free site: lets consumers put out a call for bids, and registered movers can then respond online for easy comparison shopping. (Make sure estimates include how long the job will take so you can effectively compare flat-fee and hourly bids.)
Also ask the mover to inspect your home and goods in person ahead of time to make sure there aren't any surprise charges come moving day. And inquire about any other fees that could come into play, and under what circumstances. Some movers, for example, pay any parking or traffic tickets incurred during the move, while others pass them along to the customer. Good to know in advance.

Conduct a background check
Picking a mover based solely on price is a big mistake. Check and for consumer reviews, and ask the moving company for three recent customers to call. Your state's public service commission should also be able to tell you if a mover is licensed and in good standing.

Pare back on belongings
Whether a moving estimate is based on weight or a per-hour rate, more stuff almost always results in a bigger bill. As you pack, weed out items to sell at a yard sale, donate to charity or throw out. Not only will you save money on the move itself, but you'll also get some cash back in the form of yard-sale proceeds or tax deductions. (Don't sell things to save on the move if you're going to need to buy them again at the other end. Do the math.)
Reduce the mover's workload
Move un-packable items like lamps and houseplants on your own — or at least carry them out to the moving van. Every time the movers go into your house, it takes more time, which you're paying for. Also, disassemble items like bed frames before movers arrive so you don't have to pay for the time it takes them to do it.

Know what's covered
Some homeowners insurance policies cover belongings in transit. Moving company policies typically pay out by pound, rather than by the item's value. Of course, if your belongings aren't covered by a homeowner's policy, then getting coverage from your mover is better than nothing.

Ship certain items via common carrier
Many times we have items that can easily be shipped via the Post Office Parcel Post or UPS Ground/FedEx Ground, etc. For example, books, linens, towels, folded clothes, etc. You can ship ahead of time so your packages will be waiting for you at the other end. You'd be surprised how much less it costs than the movers.

Grab the tax break
The IRS allows consumers to deduct all the costs of a job-related move, provided you meet certain criteria. You must move within a year of starting the new job and remain employed for at least 39 weeks after the move. The new job must also be at least 50 miles further away from home than your old job.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009


Who says crime doesn't pay? Not the people at:

Watches, cars, bicycles, diamonds, coins, name it, they've got it. is the largest and most popular Web site that auctions legally recovered goods online. The company works with more than 800 law enforcement agencies nationwide to collect, package and sell unreturned, found and seized goods in practically every category, from consumer goods to real estate, cars and boats. Based in Mission Viejo, California, is owned and managed by former police and law enforcement officials. works with more than 800 law enforcement agencies nationwide to auction found, seized and other personal property online. The PropertyRoom site also hosts trusted third-party merchants, such as Always At Market, that auction goods in accordance with the company’s strict guidelines and standards. PropertyRoom guarantees transactions for buyers and sellers by monitoring the payment and delivery process.

"Book 'em, Dano......Murder One"

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Thursday, August 6, 2009


The Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) is a $1 billion government program that helps consumers buy or lease a more environmentally-friendly vehicle from a participating dealer when they trade in a less fuel-efficient car or truck. The program is designed to energize the economy, boost auto sales and put safer, cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles on the nation's roadways. Consumers will be able to take advantage of this program and receive a $3,500 or $4,500 discount from the car dealer when they trade in their old vehicle and purchase or lease a new one.

For complete information go to:,,0,4867108,print.story;

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Thursday, July 30, 2009


We saw this blog entry on Consumer Reports website and thought we'd share it with our loyal readers. We don't want to see you save money on beautiful fresh summer produce only to find it spoiled in your refrigerator. Waste is so very unCHEAPIOSITY.

By the way, those "green bags" you see advertised on TV, HSN and in stores, actually work! Who'd'a thunk it? Thank you, Debbie Meyer. Actually, these green bags have been available in maritime stores all along, to keep produce fresh.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009


From time to time we come across new and better information about Travel that we want to share with you. Remember to check out our previous postings first: and
While the information is still good, the internet is always changing and so are websites. Here’s more good stuff. Remember this info is good as of the original date of this posting: This site is strictly for booking flights outside the USA and between cities outside the USA (i.e, Paris to London). It includes the budget airlines (like RyanAir and EasyJet in Europe). The granddaddy discounter helps hotels, car-rental agencies, and airlines unload all sorts of inventory at well below published prices. We realize Priceline may not be for the faint of heart, but if you’re flexible, it can save you mucho bucks. You can also book the old-fashioned way on Priceline, and their system is no better or worse than Expedia, Orbitz, etc. This user-hotel-review site is the top way to hunt for hotels. Sometimes the user reviews can be all over the place, but the site can be very helpful. We recently helped a friend find accommodations in Shanghai, and the site proved to be very useful, and he was ultimately pleased with his selection. Kayak-owned TravelPost is another review site, but it’s new and doesn’t have nearly the amount of reviews. We’ll be watching it for the future. We always check this site for airfares, hotels, and car rentals. Very often they offer the cheapest rates. We also like the way they operate; once you find what you like, they hook you up directly with the website. When doing your research, always include Kayak in your search options. Team CHEAPIOSITY does. spotlights independently owned properties overseas, many of which never show up on American travel sites. Any booking site can point you to large, widely known hotels. But you might prefer to stay in a charming inn or a small property on your next trip, especially if you're traveling to Europe. Venere also offers other kinds of alternative lodging, such as apartments, pensions, and farmhouses.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009


At Team CHEAPIOSITY, haggling is our middle name. Metaphorically speaking, Mom. We just don’t see the need to pay full price for most things and ESPECIALLY big ticket items. And yes, you can haggle even in department and discount stores if you've the stomach for it. We’ve discussed this in various posts over the years, but there’s nothing like a refresher. MSN Money recently published an article that we want to share to rejuvenate your haggling juices:

Earlier today, a friend called Team
CHEAPIOSITY from a car dealership. She had just gone into the dealership to test drive a model to see if she liked it. The salesmen had her all in a tizzy so she called us and put us on the phone with him. We weren’t trying to haggle with him. We simply explained in no uncertain terms that we could see through his dog-and-pony show, and the price started to drop. This was without our even trying…..once the salesman knew he was dealing with an experienced car buyer he backed down and sent out his boss as our friend ran for her life!

Our point is: business stinks. You've got control of your wallet. The bargaining ball is in your court. No one wants to lose a buyer.
They want to make a sale. So haggle to your advantage. It's the smart thing to do.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009



Everyone has heard of credit scores, but you are probably unfamiliar with ID Scores. Under changes to the Fair Credit Reporting Act going into effect on August first, financial institutions and others will have to have methods in place to detect and respond to instances of ID theft. As a result of this, more companies will want to assure themselves that customers they do business with are really who they say they are. One popular third party application is

The site explains how it works. While the site does ask for your Social Security number and other pieces of personal information, you can do it without the number (but it will render a different less reliable score). Only give out information you’re comfortable divulging. After that, the site calculates your ID score and you get a free copy.

You might want to take a look at our previous post that discuss Identity Security:
As if your credit score wasn’t enough to worry about, now there’s more!

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Thursday, July 2, 2009


We all know the expression ‘penny-wise and pound foolish.’ While it's usually wise to watch your pennies, sometimes thrift can cost you big money in the long run. Make sure your cost-cutting efforts make sense. Some of the best intentioned efforts to economize can get very expensive.

Here are a few "saving strategies" to avoid at all costs:

Delaying visits to the doctor and dentist, especially for children.
You’ve lost your health insurance and you think can’t afford to go to your doctor or dentist. We get it. Life is hard, BUT delaying preventive maintenance visits may lose your ability to nip a problem in the bud, and that problem could cost you thousands later. So...the bottom line is this. Don't put off routine medical and checkups, especially for children; delayed immunizations and dental care will cost you more to correct later.

Choosing cheaper, poorly-made products.
We have a friend who will remain nameless even though we could name her and she'd never know. If she regularly read CHEAPIOSITY, she wouldn't be a shining What-Not-To-Do example for us, would she? Still, we'll protect her anonymity. Let's call her Jerkina.
Jerkina will drive twenty-five miles out of her way to save a quarter. A classic example of penny-wise. Jerkina continues to buy cheap stuff though we've tried to share the wisdom. Because she bought the cheap and shoddy outdoor sprinkler system, she continues to have leaks and ends up repairing and replacing it more frequently than she would have had she spent more money on the trouble-free system we recommended. She always shops for price over quality and ends up overpaying in the long run….some people never learn. Poor Jerkina.
Same thing holds true when buying a cars. You may pay less when you buy a cheaper brand, but you need to consider reliability when figuring the real costs of a car. Check Consumer Reports Annual Car Buying Guide for the specs you need to make an informed decision.
Also, before you rush in to repair an old car, check the Kelley Blue Book price on the car first. You don't want to rebuild an engine or replace a tramsmission if the car is worth less than the repairs will cost. Don't throw good money after bad.
The same theory holds true when you buy cheap consumer electronics and off-brands…bargains aren't always bargains. How soon will your El Cheapo Piece O Crappo break? Most junk is made to replace, not repair. Think value. When a price on what should be a durable good seems too low to be true, it probably is.

Buying products in smaller packages.
While the small package may be cheaper now, the price per unit is going to be more. If you use something all the time, buy larger or in bulk and save. One word about bulk…..only buy something in bulk if you’ll use it all. Buying in bulk costs more if you discard a portion of it.

Opting to enroll in store credit cards.
It is tempting to open an instant credit card in order to receive 15% off your purchase, a common offer in department stores. While the immediate discount sounds tempting, by adding a credit card to your arsenal, most likely a credit card with a high interest rate, you could end up far exceeding the price you would pay if you chose not to open the credit card. Not to mention the impact the additional debt has on your credit. Limit yourself to lower interest credit cards (and don’t be afraid to negotiate a rate with them), if you don’t pay your balance in full. Very often you’ll find a coupon in the newspaper or online for the same discount. Everything seems to be on sale at department stores these days.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009


As we've made abundantly clear, we're big supporters of smart shopping at thrift stores to build up a terrific and bargain-friendly wardrobe.

But apparently, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Remember swapping clothes with your sister or your best friend? What if you don't have a sister? What if you have a sister but she moved thousands of miles away and joined an Ashram? What if your best friend is fatter than you are? Or (God Forbid) thinner? What if your best friend dresses like a skanky ho and you're more the preppy type?

Well, now there are clothes-swapping websites. When discretion is the greater part of value.

Take a read:

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Thursday, June 18, 2009


In the June, 2009 issue of Consumer Reports, they culled money-saving tips from their staff and readers. Lots of good stuff, so we wanted to share:

Lawn Care
Grow annuals from seeds. It's much easier to buy flats, but seeds are very inexpensive.
Rather than buy plants, trade plant clippings with friends. They're free!

Bills & Saving
I pay most of my bills electronically through credit-card debit or bank debit. I'm never late and I don't have to pay penalties.
The Web site at can help you analyze your cell-phone bill to determine whether you'll save money with a different plan.
Call up your Internet, phone, and cable companies and try to get a better deal. I cut my Internet bill in half that way.
Don't go to coin machines that charge to convert your change to bills. Some banks offer that service free. (If you want to use a coin machine for convenience, at least take advantage of their free services. Some offer free conversion of your change to iTunes or credit. No one should ever pay to convert coins to paper money. Ever. That's just wrong.)
Set up a direct deposit into a savings account. You'll soon get used to not having that amount available in every paycheck.
Try this neat trick: put in a drawer every $5 bill you get as change.

Helpful hints
Borrow books and videos from the library rather than paying at a bookstore or video store. At some libraries, you can sign up for just-released books.
Don't buy liners for your wastebaskets. Just reuse plastic grocery bags.
My sister-in-law is a hair stylist. In exchange for a free cut, I'll do a couple hours of yard work or baby-sit their youngest.
Many plumbing fixtures have a lifetime warranty. I call and get parts sent free. (Some of my fixtures are 20 years old.)
Use newspaper instead of paper towels to clean exterior windows and glass doors.
Instead of throwing out the plastic from the dry cleaner, I tie a knot at the bottom to close up the hanger hole and use it as a trash-can liner.
Failed a car emissions inspection? By law, emissions controls have an 80,000 mile/8-year warranty. Many parts might be free.
Fix a broken umbrella rather than buying a new one by sewing the fabric back onto the metal arm. It's just attached by a thread.
Skip the live, big-name concert and buy the concert DVD instead. They cost around $20—not $80 to $400. There's no parking charge and no guy behind you singing along.

When you travel, take your own sandwich on the plane and fill up your water bottle after you go through security.
I've gotten half off weekend rentals from Hertz and Avis on their Web sites.
I put a fare alert on a travel site and it e-mailed me about two incredible deals: a $350 round-trip ticket from Newark to Rome, including taxes, and a $365 fare from Kennedy to Rome. I probably wouldn't have stumbled across these without the alert.
Book a breathtaking campsite for as little as $25 a night at, a gateway for many state and federal park services. You can take your own tent or rent a rustic cabin.
I asked a hotel if it would price-match a deal I found online. It did, saving me $30 or so a night. The first agent said no. The next day, a different agent agreed. I've also found different prices when I call a hotel directly vs. the central 800 number.
A calendar on a site like Expedia shows you the fare or room rate within a range of a given date. Altering your trip by a few days can save a bundle.
Rent an apartment on vacation. You live like a local and it's cheap.

Household items
I occasionally wash my sponges in my dishwasher's utensil holder when I do a load of dishes. They last a lot longer and don't get that "off" smell.
Measure laundry detergent using the manufacturer's enclosed cap or cup. It's very easy to add more detergent than you need pouring freehand. This is especially important for the new concentrated detergents.
Cut your fabric softener sheets in half.
Clothes with the label "dry clean recommended" can typically be machine washed. (But don't launder a garment if the label says "dry clean only.")
Buy only machine-washable clothes.
Store wool sweaters in old cotton pillowcases instead of expensive and environmentally unfriendly plastic bins. The cotton lets the wool breathe, which helps sweaters last longer but still keeps moths out.
Can't stand ironing? Buy no-iron shirts instead of taking them to the cleaners.
We no longer buy tub and toilet cleaners, counter cleansers, and the like. We use white vinegar and baking soda for a lot of cleaning.
Make your lipstick go further by scooping out the last bit with a lip brush.
Flatten the toilet paper roll a bit. It doesn't spin around as much and waste paper.

Stores often match competitors' coupons or advertised specials. When you shop at your favorite stores, carry other stores' coupons and flyers and ask for the same deal.
When I shop online, I always check Google for a coupon for the site before I check out. Just yesterday I saved $15 and got free shipping on shoes.
Many businesses give affiliation or age discounts, so always ask. Even my vet gives a senior discount.
Try to negotiate everything, not just cars. It's as simple as saying to a sales clerk (managers are better), "Is there something you can do about the price?" This is especially effective if you can find a minor defect in the item or if you're buying several items.
When we need office furniture, like bookcases, we buy it used.
Take stock before you shop. I have three bottles of Windex under the sink because I didn't look before I bought.

In the supermarket, I look at the unit price. Many items such as tuna have a quantity surcharge—the bigger container has a higher unit price than the smaller one.
I bring coffee to work in a thermos.
Once or twice a year I won't buy as much food as usual and I try to empty the freezer and cupboards before buying more. The freezer, especially, is full of food I forget.
Avoid bottled water. Buy a decent water bottle for everyone in the family, put their names on them, and refill.
Cook more at home and make enough to freeze. Later, when you don't have time to cook, you're not tempted to buy prepared food, which costs more.
Buy wine and beer by the case, which is cheaper. Either stock up for yourself or split with friends.
Cut out wine and beer.
I eat breakfast at home instead of buying it on the road or at work.
Bring a bag lunch to work. And bring your own snacks too; those trips to the vending machines can add up.
Buy kitchenware (pots, pans, knives, etc.) at kitchen-supply wholesalers. Many are open to the general public.
Grow your own vegetables and herbs. You'll save a lot (think about the cost of a bunch of parsley or thyme) and you'll use them more since you'll have them on hand.
We cut our grocery bill in half by planning next week's menu and shopping with a list.
If you don't want to cook, get takeout instead of dining in the restaurant. There's no table service, so there's no tip, and you can resist adding dessert to your order.
Eat half the restaurant meal and save the other half for lunch or dinner the next day.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009


Okay, so we're not there yet.....but Team CHEAPIOSITY likes to think ahead, and it's never too early to prepare.

We thought this article from The Wall Street Journal is a good read and sound advise. Hence, dear reader, we pass it along in the spirit of optimism and positive thinking:

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Thursday, June 4, 2009


In tough economic times like these, we start thinking about how we can cut back on the cost of living. We're ever on the lookout for good deals and trying to see if we can get anything for free. Every little bit helps. And this includes food.

With a little legwork and a little research, it should be possible to find a free meal. With that goal in mind, here are 25 Ways You Can Eat For Free.

Forage. Look for wild growing foods. Nuts, fruits, and other plants can provide sustenance for free. Martha Stewart had one of her cooks on the show demonstrating an Asian recipe and told the audience that the cook goes through her gardens and pulls out what Martha considered weeds and cooks them up into delicious dishes. If Martha will eat it, then so can you. Take dandelions as an example.....dandelion salad anyone?? Foraging can also be a fun family activity. Just make sure you understand what is safe to eat, and what is not. Check locally to find out if wild food tours are offered, or try to locate a master gardener, agricultural extension or horticulturist to help you identify edible plants. If foraging seems too risky, spend a few dollars for a range of seeds or flats and plant a garden. If it's good enough for the First Lady...

Fish. Learn how to fish. Learn how to clean and prepare fish, and you can prepare a free meal easily. You might even consider Hunting. Acquiring appropriate gear and the license fees cost more, and many people are not comfortable with this option. Thank you, Bambi.

Go to church or synagogue. Many other religious denominations offer free food at activities ranging from scripture study to fellowshipping events to holiday programs.

Mystery shopping. Sign up to be a 'mystery shopper' and sometimes it's to try a restaurant. Watch out for scams, however. Not all mystery shopping opportunities are legitimate.

Barter. As the recession deepens,
Bartering is actually making a bit of a comeback. If you have skills and knowledge that others can use, trade them for a free meal or for some kind of foodstuffs.

Free grocery samples. Have you ever been to a Sam’s Club or Costco on a Saturday afternoon? You can eat an entire meal for free by moving around the samples stations. Many stores offer free samples, and many of them do it on a predictable schedule. Get a feel for when stores are offering freebies, and get in line.

Go home. Nothing beats a home-cooked, free meal from Mom. And you’ll get in some quality bonding time.

Continental breakfast. When you travel, check to see whether your hotel/motel offers a free continental breakfast. This usually includes cold cereal, bread products and juice.

Special promotions. Keep an eye out for special promotions. Many restaurants offer them, especially fast food restaurants. Recent promotions we've spotted include: Senior promotions for those 55 and older, college student promotions and discounts with school ID, and promotions recently run by chains like Quizno’s (first 1 million people get a free sub) and Denny’s (free Grand Slam breakfast).
Coupons. Careful couponing can lead to free food. Buy food on sale with coupons. We're not coupon experts, but when you know how to properly use your coupons, you can get your groceries for very, very little — and many items for free. And, of course, there are those coupons that allow you a buy one, get one free on some items, as well as restaurant coupons that help you get a free entree or drink.

Become a freegan. Perhaps you’ve heard about freeganism. It’s all about foraging for used, still in good condition items, from urban dumping grounds. It’s extreme, and many people are uncomfortable with it. Perfectly good — or nearly perfectly good — food is often tossed out from grocery stores and restaurants. I think you know where this is going.
Eating free in COLLEGE.

College students are notoriously hungry — and poor. Here are some places you can go if you are looking for a free meal in college:
Campus food services. We worked at the campus cafeteria for two years while in college. At the end of every shift, workers were allowed to have a free meal. If there were enough leftovers, we could even box up some of the food and take it home. Many campuses also have grills, cafes and catering services. Even working in a restaurant off-campus can lead to free food. (This trick works even if you aren’t in college.)

Clubs. Join a club, get free food. Many clubs include some money for food at events in their budgets. Attend an “information” meeting, and you’ll most likely see some form of free food.
Art openings and films. Student art shows and film festivals are great places to score free food. Most of the time, a “reception” is held with food and beverage. You can go nosh a little and enjoy the arts.

Get to know your professors. Lots of professors like to be buddies with their students. If you show initiative in class, and an interest in the subject matter, you might find yourself invited over for dinner.

Conferences and seminars. Many campuses host professional and academic conferences and seminars. In many cases, students are allowed to some of the sessions. It is often possible to get free food at a reception or meeting during the course of the conference or meeting.

Open houses and orientations. Many organizations on campus offer open houses. Greek societies, honor societies, new buildings recently constructed and new programs offer open houses so that you can visit the premises. And one of the draws is free food. Orientations offer similar opportunities. Even as a senior, it is possible to score free food when you attend freshman orientation.

Web sites to help you find free food

Thanks to the Internet, it is possible to find even more free food. Go online to find good deals and places where you can eat free. Here are some Web sites that can help you enjoy food at little to no cost.

My Kids Eat Free provides a list of more than 2,500 locations in all 50 states that allow your kids to eat free. You can get free kids meals and more when you look for the right deals. (Locally, check for “kid’s night” at buffets, pancakes houses and other restaurants.) includes a list of freebie Web sites that can point you to special offers on food. And there’s more than just food here — there are freebies on a number of other products and services. Can help you find great deals and get you restaurant gift certificates on discount. You can get $25 certificates by paying $10. That’s $15 of free food!
FreeMania can help you find free food from grocery stores, restaurants and other sources. Plus, there are free recipes (to help you cook your free food) and other savings. FreeMania also offers directories to other free items.
Grocery Coupon Guide helps you develop strategies to maximize your grocery (and other) coupons to help you get the most bang for buck — and even get items for free. provides access to free food samples. A great list of food manufacturers and restaurants from Quaker, Betty Crocker, Splenda, Red Bull, Starbucks, Chili’s, Arby’s and much, much more. provides coupons and other savings from a number of stores — including grocery stores and health food stores and co-ops. Sign up for emails for free coupons and other savings. is an interesting and fun site for wordsmiths who want to help provide free food for others. Answer a series of questions about word meanings, and every time you get one right, ten grains of rice are donated to the UN World Food Program. A free way to help others get free food.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009


Keeping your good credit is top of everyone's to-do list these days; to that end, Team CHEAPIOSITY wants to share this article from MSNBC about how to complain about errors. Take a read:

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Thursday, May 21, 2009


If either you, your kids, or your friends' kids are graduating, then reality is about to hit them. Like a big shovel in the face. A very expensive dangerous scarey honkin' shovel. It's almost enough to make us glad we're not young any more. Almost, but not quite...

Here's an article with some good advice to prevent them from finding themselves in debt.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009


What's the deal with all these additional fees on everything? Booking fees for travel, ATM fees, transaction fees, restocking fees.....enough already. (Not to mention those 'energy cost' fees when gas prices went up last year....why haven't they disappeared now that gas prices are down?) Team CHEAPIOSITY is as sick of paying pesky fees as you are. Companies think we don't notice. Yeah, right. Here are some tips to eliminate some fees and save you hundreds of $$$ a year. Let's see if the companies notice.

Household bills

1. From small home security firms and heating oil delivery services to major telecom providers, a growing number of companies are charging "manual billing" fees for sending paper bills and statements, sometimes up to $3.50 a month. Sign up for e-mail billing or check your statements online instead, and save up to $42 a year.

2. Homeowners and auto insurance can often be paid in installments, but spreading out the payments comes at a price. Fees vary, but expect $4 or $5 tacked on each month for installments, or up to $30 extra for a six-month policy.

3. Utilities, cable and Internet providers now commonly charge as much as $15 for making a payment over the phone - what Mierzwinski calls a "pay to pay" fee. These fees are often waived online, so set up your accounts on the company Web sites in case you have to make a last-minute payment.

Gift cards

4. Gift cards in the rack at your local supermarket can contain a rack of fees. For those with bank card logos like MasterCard, Visa and American Express, you may pay purchase fees up to $6.95. There can also be separate charges for activation, ATM withdrawal, and monthly maintenance if the card sits unused. Fees and regulations vary from state to state, so check the fine print on the packaging. Also check with your bank to see if they sell gift cards with lower fees.

Phone bills

5. Cell phone companies will charge up to $200 in "termination fees" if you cancel a contract early. Some prorate the fee to reflect the time left on the contract, but check your end date before switching services. If riding out your plan isn't an option, check out a contract trading service, like, or, where someone else may bid to take over the remaining portion of your contract.

6. Telephone companies often charge separately for services like voice mail, call waiting and caller ID, along with local and long distance calling. Some of these features may duplicate service you have on your cell phone. Compare both bills, and cut out services you don't need.

7. Conversely, if you use a service and pay extra fees - like roaming charges on your cell when you're traveling or if you've started texting frequently but still pay for each message - you may be able to save by adjusting your plan to one that includes more options.


8. Ask hotels and resorts if they charge fees for amenities like fitness centers or pools when you make a reservation, and again when you check in, advises David Lytle, editorial director of If you're not going to use certain facilities, negotiate with the hotel before you sign anything that allows them to bill your credit card.

9. When booking a flight, watch out for charges like selecting an exit row seat ($20 at AirTran Airways), seats with more legroom ($35 at Spirit Airlines) and even picking a seat in advance of the flight ($5 to $35 at Northwest Airlines). Wait until you get to the airport on the day of travel and you may be able to avoid fees like charges for certain seats. Common fees charged by airlines are detailed on the travel site

10. Pack light. Airlines won't just charge you for checking your bags, they'll sock you with another fee if any are too heavy - up to $175 on Delta, for instance. If that heavy bag is also "oversized," you'll be hit up for more, as much as $175 on United. With most carriers, including American, Continental, Delta, and United, these fees can be cumulative, so check the airline's Web site for its baggage restrictions before you pack. Bag fees are less common on international flights. Plus, you may be able to get some fees waived if you are a member of certain frequent flyer programs, like American Airlines premium programs, or if you hold an airline-linked credit card like Continental Airlines Chase cards.

11. Mid-range and discount hotels often offer free Internet service, but higher-end locations tend to charge, sometimes as much as $19.95 per day. If your hotel won't waive the fee, check out or to find free service nearby.

12. If you travel with your pet, you are likely to find yourself lapping up extra fees. Even self-proclaimed "pet friendly" hotels typically charge daily fees, starting at about $10 per pet, and in some cases additional per-stay fees up to $200. Ask clear questions when making reservations, and check out Web sites like, or to find no-fee or low-fee deals.

13. For years, savvy travelers have known using a credit card overseas could help save on exchange rates and fees. But credit card companies now typically add a foreign currency conversion charge of up to 3 percent. Lytle, of, said a strategy that will save on fees is to use a credit card only for large purchases, and use ATMs to withdraw cash infrequently for minor spending.

Banking and investing

14. Banks charge $10 to $38 for overdrafts, with the median about $27, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data says. These fees are getting more common as debit card use grows. So be keep your account register current, and be mindful of debit card spending, ATM withdrawals and any automatic payments that you have set up.

15. The fees for using another bank's ATM have crept higher, and it's not uncommon to see $3 to $4 charges. Using another bank's machine may also trigger a fee from your bank. Search for your own bank when you need cash, or try getting cash back when making debit-card purchases. Even if your bank also charges a fee for debit-card purchases, that may be a less costly option than using an ATM.

16. Banks may charge fees for frequent teller transactions or even for calling customer service. Wells Fargo, for instance, will charge you $2 to speak with a person, if your request could have been handled by its automated service. Check your bank's Web site and the fine print on your statements to learn your bank's policies.

17. If you've switched jobs and left 401(k) accounts sitting in former employers' programs, you're likely paying unnecessary management and servicing fees. These fees are often deducted directly from the assets of the funds you hold. Check the literature or Web site for your program to find out what's charged, and consolidate accounts to save what could add up to thousands of dollars over time.

Credit cards

18. Pay your bill late and expect to get socked with a fee of $30 or even $45. If you're prone to forgetting the due date, set up an automatic payment through your bank account.

19. Rather than decline a purchase, credit card issuers now are just as likely to allow you to go over your limit and charge you a fee, typically about $35, says Adam Levin, chairman and founder of You'll get charged even if you're just a few cents over your limit, and even if it's something like a late payment fee that puts you there.

20. Annual fees are less common than they used to be. Now appearing mostly on rewards cards, the size of the fees has risen to $50 to $150. If you pay an annual fee, make sure you're getting a worthwhile return from your rewards. If you're not, ask to have the fee waived or try to switch to a no-fee card.

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