Best Back to School Deals

August 25th, 2016 | Posted by admin in Smart Spending - (0 Comments)

$0.01

“Penny Deals”

Where: Office Depot/Office Max

Keep your eye on flyers from Office Depot/Office Max because if you catch one at the right time, you will know when to go to one of their stores to buy up to three $0.01 school supplies. These “penny deals” can be glue, erasers, stickers, pencils, etc. You better hurry though because these deals are while supplies last. While if you go in to only buy these items you can only get up to three, the deal is back after you spend at least $5 on another item in the store.

$1

Crayola Markers

Where: Target

Normally these markers are $2.50 for 10. During Target’s back-to-school discount, they are $1. No catch. No coupon needed. Buy as many as you want.

Pencils

$2.40

Five Star Notebooks

Where: Costco

While there are laptops, phones, tablets, and many other forms of technology to take notes with, the notebook is still the classic way of taking notes, and Five Star Notebooks is the essential notebook brand to buy. The catch? You have to buy three of them. Still, it 45 cents cheaper to buy three Five Star notebooks at Costco than many retailers online.

$11

TI-30X IIS Scientific Calculator

Real math requires a real calculator. Not just the basic calculator app on your phone. As long as you don’t need a calculator with graphing functionality (which costs at least a hundred dollars more) you can get this useful scientific calculator for $11 bucks. Seemingly at least $5 less than many online retailers.

$12

Avengers Backpack

Where: JC Penney

Backpacks to school is like The Avengers to awesomeness. Or at least your kids may think that. These superstar superheroes are the face of a JC Penney deal that’s worth saving the day for. The backpack along with a matching lunchbox is right now 62% off of the manufacturer’s suggested price. You can get another 3 dollars off if you use the coupon code 4SALE.

$20

Gel Pens

Where: Costco

Need gel pens? Run (really, RUN) to Costco right now because this may be the best deal on gel pens you will find all year. For only $20 you get 100 gel pens, choosing between styles like metallic, neon, or glitter which has 70 different colors. It also has a stadium stand to keep them organized, and if you buy them in the store, you will be saving around $5 on shipping and handling. Are you running yet? You should at least read the rest of the blog before you leave.

50%

School Uniform Pants

Where: Sears

If your or your children’s’ school has a school uniform, no better place to go then Sears. Their sale includes over a hundred different school uniform pieces that are all half off.

For more A+ deals, you can read the full article on Cheapism.com.

~Bobby

The Dangers of “Video Jacking”

August 22nd, 2016 | Posted by admin in Security - (0 Comments)

Let’s say it’s a Thursday night, you’re in your pajamas, and you want to catch up on your favorite TV show that’s streaming on the Amazon Video app. You have an Apple TV but Apple TV doesn’t carry the Amazon Video App. Your phone does though! What you can do is play the show on your phone and mirror it onto the television. By mirroring the screen from your phone to your television, you’re duplicating the picture. Pretty cool, right? While that feature is specifically for iPhones, you can use HDMI chords along with other devices to project what is on your screen to the large television one. A useful feature, yet not one used often, and according to more recent research, one that you may not want to use at all. This feature can lead to hackers being able to view everything on your screen with very little money spent on their part.

The term used to describe this problematic hacking technique is “video jacking.” How video jacking works is the hacker will use their custom electronics that are hidden by a faux USB charging station. The victim believing the charging station is authentic will connect their phone to the correct charging chord. Then, while your phone is connected, the “charging station” mirrors your screen and records everything that you can see on your screen. So if you sign into an account by typing out your password or view documents that show your account numbers, PINs, or passwords, or look at emails with confidential information, etc, they will have that information as long as your phone is connected to the device.

Simple strategy, devastating consequences.

Video jacking has been seen recently at the DEF CON security conference, held in Las Vegas from August 4th through 7th.  Aries Security co-founder and CEO Brian Markus said that his fellow researchers and he thought up video jacking as a viable way to steal data back in 2011 when coming up with ways for “juice jacking” which is similar to video jacking only with video jacking the hacker can see from the video recording the key strokes the user is making when typing.

Now, the number one question on your mind is probably: Is my phone vulnerable to these attacks?

If you have an Android or any HDMI ready smartphones, then yes. View a list of susceptible phones.

But what if I have an iPhone?

You’re not in the clear either. Having your iPhone projected on a TV by chord requires a special lightning digital AV adapter from Apple, a little more difficult than the other smartphones, but it can easily be hidden in a fake charging station and then have an extension adapter and a regular lightning cable be used to steal your information.

For more information on video jacking, you can read the full article on KrebsOnSecurity.com.

~Bobby

6 Strange Ways to Go Broke

August 18th, 2016 | Posted by admin in Saving & Spending - (0 Comments)

It can be nice to sit and think that, if you just won the lottery, or made the right investment, or had just one talent that could make you more money, life would finally be easy. Maybe not trillions, but just a couple million and you could live comfortably and happy. But, as it turns out, even the richest person in the world can go broke. Your financial security is based on the decisions you make, and sorry to say there are a lot of ways to go into financial ruin. You might know quite a few ways it can happen, and so you easily avoid them. Then there’s the rest of the ways that you probably wouldn’t think twice about. Some even seem like gifts rather than a time bomb. Here are some of the stranger ways that you can go broke:

Dog Bite Lawsuits

The angrier the dog, the more it may cost the owner. The Insurance Information Institute and State Farm released data showing that in 2014, the average dog bite claim costs homeowners $32,072. This isn’t as big of a problem for homeowners that have Homeowners insurance, but for homeowners that don’t, that costs can break you.

Inheritance

For many, there is an intense rush of emotions when they receive an inheritance. Grief of course. Can’t forget that, but there is also the feeling of going day by day with not much money to having a small fortune. They start to buy the clothes they could never afford before. They go on the vacation they always wanted to go on. Their next car they buy would be far out of their price range a year before. Anyone can fall into this immediate change of lifestyle. It’s human nature. If you do not want to go broke, use your rational thinking to see if what you are buying is an emotional short term purchase or a logical long term one.

Videogames

Videogames are not just bad for the eyes for long periods of time. They are bad for you financially. Not only are video games an estimated $60 a game, and buying multiple games at once is costly, but having a video game addiction leads to neglect of real life.  Addicts neglect their finances, and also being too tired to work after a night of gaming can lead to job loss.

Winning the Lottery

This one may see a little obvious but 44 percent of lottery winners go broke in 5 years, as reported by Statista. Almost HALF of lottery winners become worse off than they were BEFORE they won the lottery. Like with an inheritance, once a large amount of cash comes in they emotionally start spending far beyond their previous means. If you win the lottery, the first thing you should do is hire a tax attorney, as stated by Mark Cuban to the future winners of the Powerball in January.

For more information on strange ways to go broke, you can read the full article on GoBankingRates.com.

~Bobby

Highest Paid Olympic Athletes

August 11th, 2016 | Posted by admin in Entertainment - (0 Comments)

Have you been as fascinated with the Olympics as we have been? It is always refreshing to watch the world come together every two years with the healthy activity of sport. There is still over a week left of the 2016 Olympics held in Rio, and for the next week athletes, like Michael Phelps and Serena Williams, will take over our televisions and our attention as we sit at the edge of the couch…most likely with a bowl of chips on our laps. Hey, we’re not in the Olympics. We can eat a bowl of chips or two…or three.

A question many have when the games are rigorously being played are the finances of the athletes. What does one make after winning a gold medal? Now that we know, we are thinking about qualifying four years from now. We just have to put the bowl of chips down. It’s the only thing holding us back, we promise.

Here are the highest paid athletes competing in Rio according to Forbes. These do not include earnings made from endorsement deals:

Athlete: Michael Phelps

Sport: Swimmer

Net Worth: $55 million

Easily one of the biggest names in Olympics history. The famed swimmer has over 20 Olympic medals, and deals galore following his success at the 2008 Olympics. He received a $1 million bonus off of Speedo, his sponsor at the time, and he’s even been a model for sponsors from Wheaties to Louis Vuitton.

Athlete: Carmelo Anthony

Sport: NBA

Earnings: $22.9 Million

With the New York Knicks, Anthony brought home a $24.6 million salary for the 2016-2017 season. You can see him on the Team USA basketball team at the Olympics this year. He is being sponsored by Nike and Draft Kings. His career points-per-average game is 21.8.

Athlete: Noval Djokovic

Sport: Tennis

Earnings: $21.8 Million

According to Forbes, Djokovic is officially the first tennis player to earn over $20 million off of prize money in a single season. In the last 5 and a half years, he has racked up 11 Grand Slam titles, and has had sponsors such as Adidas behind him.

Athlete: Kevin Durant

Sport: NBA

Earnings: $20.2 million

Along with Anthony, Durant can also be seen on Team USA as the forward. The Golden State Warrior has a career average of 28.2 points and is sponsored by Nike and Sprint among others.

Athlete: Pau Gasol

Sport: NBA

Earnings: $19.3 million

The NBA star who previously played with the Lakers and Bulls and now has a two year deal valued at over $30 million, according to The Vertical. You can see Gasol play for Team Spain in Rio.

For more of the highest paid athletes competing in the 2016 Olympics, you can read the full article on GoBankingRates.com.

~Bobby

Let’s say you have a week-long vacation planned in Los Angeles four months from now. You have been excited about it for some time, your vacation time has been approved, and you are now eagerly searching for hotel rooms on third party sites like Expedia, Priceline, or Orbitz. You see a hotel, looks nice from the pictures, a little too expensive. Look at another, also looks nice, still expensive. Then you see a hotel reasonably priced, but when you go to take a look at the rooms, there are no pictures on the sight. Why would a hotel with a lower price not have pictures on the site? They MUST be hiding something. The pool might be dirty, there may be bed bugs, maybe it is just such a terrible hotel and having no pictures might be better for business. Your mind might starting think of a handful of unpleasant reasons why there aren’t any pictures on the site. After all, you’re going to be staying there for a week and a hotel isn’t something that you want to take your chances on.

Rest assured, other shoppers are in the same boat. They too want to see photos of the hotel, its accommodations, and amenities. What you might not know is that it’s not necessarily the hotels fault that images aren’t posted on third party sites, it’s actually the fault of the travel agency. Third party sites purposely delete images of certain hotels so users will chose a hotel the agency wants them to choose. You might not even be able to book the hotel you’d like on the site. This technique is called dimming. Here is how the technique started, and how the problem is becoming more prevalent:

The Beginnings

The start of dimming can be summarized as such: Hotels would rather you book directly through them, and online agencies feel like that would be undercutting their business. This past spring, hotels won several court cases in Europe that now allow them to offer lower rates on their own sites instead of having a contract with online agencies where they gave the lowest rates. Let’s say that online agencies did not take this lightly, and the dimming technique went west quickly.

According to Dori Stein, chief executive of Fornova, Expedia uses dimming the most frequently. Booking.com has yet to remove pictures, but they have lowered the ranking of the hotels they want their customers to avoid. Expedia has also lowered ranking of hotels, but they have stated that it is to benefit their customers.

The Response

Customers are unhappy about the dimming process, considering it not to be beneficial and actually showing users an incomplete list of hotels in the area. Retired teacher reported to MoneyTalksNews that dimming goes against what an online travel agency promises.

What’s Going On

No one besides the employees of online travel agencies know why one hotel is dimmed and not the other. Chief Commercial Officer for OTA Insight Gine Engels told MoneyTalkNews that a hotel chain could have over hundred hotels dimmed and then the next day it could only be around 80. Same can go for hotel rankings. OTA Insight has reported that over 1% of Expedia’s 260,000 properties have been dimmed. Once summer came along, and the travel season came in full swing, dimming saw an uptick. Hotels will find out they have been dimmed by Expedia when they receive an email that Expedia is not showing the best rates of that hotel on their site.

In the future, when you are looking for the best rates of a hotel, use multiple sites to get the most about of information of rates including the hotel’s main website.

For more insight on “dimming” and other practices used to prevent online shoppers from getting the best hotel deals, you can read the full article on MoneyTalksNews.com.

~Bobby

What symbols best represent the summer? A beach ball lying on the golden sand, being gently grazed back and forth by the incoming tide? How about a family screaming with smiles on their face while the wind blows back their hair as the 60 miles per hour downhill slope of the rollercoaster finally tips over on its perch? Or how about the cute little children down the block sitting at the wooden lemonade stand that dad built last week selling a paper cup filled with the sweet summer treat for only $0.50 a pop? Quite a steal if you ask me. The lemonade stand is an iconic summer tradition for the country’s youth. It gets them out in the community, allows them to have fun and stay busy with their friends, makes them a bit of cash, and teaches them vital life lessons to hold onto throughout adulthood. So, put your feet up and take a sip on some locally made lemonade, while you read four of the most important lessons your children can learn from a lemonade stand:

Hard Work Isn’t Necessarily Fun

Here’s a lesson every person whom has had, now has, or will one day have a business venture of their own: Hard work is no walk in the park. When the stand is being built, your children may start daydreaming of having a couple of tasty cups of lemonade while money just starts pouring into their laps. This isn’t the case. If they don’t have chairs they have to stand all day, sometimes with the misfortune of no more than five customers.  It might be so busy that they have to run in and out of the house to keep the lemonade intake high. The day may be unbearably hot. We’ve seen days upon days of that recently. Still, if they want to make money, they have to grin and bear it. They also have to keep the stand clean and make change hour upon hour. Even if you’re having fun at your job, it will also be somewhat strenuous.

You Have to Spend Money to Make It

Now this idea may come with a little scrutiny, but since the stand is a real world business to your kids, then you should make it a real world business. A lemonade stand needs water, lemonade packets, and cups. Those essentials do not come free. If they are the ones to buy these products with their own money, they will realize that if they want a successful business, a lot of money is spent in the process. Mom and dad aren’t

going to pay for your business ventures in full for your entire life now are they?

You must have Patience

What happens when two hours go by, your kids lose interest so they go in the backyard to swim in the pool and then a large group of lacrosse payers walk by the stand, ready to pay for a cup? A part of running a business is staying committed to the business even if it’s not busy. Having patience. That way, when a rush happens, you have been open and you are ready.

Location, Location, Location

The first location your kids may pick to set up their lemonade stand is on the sidewalk outside your house. Problem is if you’re a dead end street off of the main road. You’re not going to get a lot of customers walking by. As when you are setting up a real business, what might be inconvenient to you is better for business. You have to go to where your customers are, not wait for your customers to come to you.

For more lessons your children can learn from while working at their lemonade stand, you can read the full article on Credit.com.

~Bobby

Card skimmers are not just a major problem for gas stations. Just last month, there were skimmers discovered at self-checkout card readers found in Walmart stores in  Fredericksburg, VA and Fort Wright, KY. Now you may be thinking that since you are living in states that are a comfortable distance away from these attacks you are far enough from having to worry next time you swipe your card in a Walmart near you. This is not the case. There is a likely chance that you are in reasonable distance to an Ingenico card reader. The skimmers that have been recently detected specifically target the payment solutions company’s card readers. The device is able to be installed in seconds and uses the pad overlay to take the victim’s PIN as well as recording the data on the card’s magnetic swipe. This skimmer goes for around $200. In recent years Walmart has been assisting customers with safer payments by having customers with EMV chip cards to insert their cards in the card reader rather than swiping since counterfeiting EMV-chip cards are more difficult and more expensive.

So, how do you know the Ingenico reader you’re using is a fake? Here are some of the key differences:

  • The overlay on the reader is noticeably larger (possibly over an inch wider) than the rest of the body.
  • The skimmer pad will be blocking the backlight behind the keys.
  • The Apple Pay green LED light in the top right corner will not be lit.
  • Both the fake device and real reader needs to read your card so the device will be running suspiciously slower than usual.
  • There will be more card read failures than usual.
  • The stylus used to sign your name on the machine can always be placed comfortably on the reader. A fake overlay prevents the stylus from having a normal holding spot.

If you feel that you are a victim of identity theft you can fill out a report with the Federal Trade Commission.

For more security tips on skimmers and prevention, you can read the full article of KrebOnSecurity.com.

~Bobby

Having bright, shiny pearl whites in your mouth is important for a few reasons. Your fresh breath and glowing smile will be met positively by friends, family, and strangers. Keeping clean teeth gives you a lower risk of dental disease related health risks such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, premature birth, Alzheimer’s disease, and more as reported by the Mayo Clinic. Beautiful, healthy teeth also barricade you from the price of root canals, crowns, pulled teeth, or other expensive dental surgery in the future. So, say you go for the recommended twice a year cleaning. That’s the best case scenario for your dental hygiene and that can still be unfortunately costly. Yet, when there’s a will there’s a way, and there are several ways that can get you the proper health care you need, AND not spend a high price to get it. Here are four ways to cut dental costs:

Social Buying Sites

If you go on a site like Groupon on the right day, you can find an excellent deal. That’s correct. You can get your teeth cleaned because of a Groupon. Besides Groupon, keep your eyes peeled on LivingSocial or any of your local newspapers for deals. You can even get a deal with an expired coupon. If you spent $40 on Groupon for a deal at a dentist, and the voucher expires, you can still knock $40 off the price tag. Just keep in mind that the price will be heftier. Also keep in mind that these discounts work best for new customers.

If you discover that there is work that needs to be down write down the procedure and the costs then research the average cost of these procedures and make sure you are getting a reasonable deal.

Extra Procedures

One, if not “the”, of the most unnecessary procedures that you can receive in the dentist’s chair is teeth whitening. It’s stated in Consumer Reports that there are a lot of dentists that will try to push patients for these sort of procedures to try and boost their bottom line. Nearly half of surveyed readers felt pressured by their dentist to do these cosmetic procedures. The Consumer Guide to Dentistry reports that the average cost of teeth whitening is $650. That is far too much for a procedure that you can do yourself with white strips in your local pharmacy for hundreds of dollars less.

Second Opinions

All it can take is a second opinion to save you thousands. Dentists aren’t robbers, but they are humans who have businesses to run, so if you hear that you need a major surgery because of your decaying teeth when sixth months ago your teeth were good as new, it’d be for the best for your wallet and your health that you make sure that your teeth are in that serious of a condition. If they’re not, then great! You can be on your merry way. If they are, space out surgery a couple of months apart. Schedule the most painful or infected surgery first and you can wait a few months for the non-damaging ones.

Free & Low Cost Options

There are a few other options you can look into for cheaper dental care:

  • Clinical trials: If you qualify for studies that include a dental situation you have, you can receive free or low-cost care thanks to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
  • Dental schools: You can be the patients of dental students, for a low cost and it is always supervised by a professional.
  • Dental hygiene schools: Like with a dental school, you can receive low-cost cleanings as a patient at some of these schools.
  • Online searches: Keep aware when you’re online of special events that offer things like one day of free dental care.

For more information on the ways to cut the cost of those dentist bills, you can read the full article on MoneyTalksNews.com.

~Bobby

It’s so much easier shopping online. First off, you don’t have to leave the house. Second, you have an unlimited amount of options. Why drive to your favorite retail store and see a few decent shirts and pants when in a few mouse clicks you have a wide array of outfits you love, reviews of the items, and different tabs of similar outfits at different retailer website so you can compare prices. And finally, you do not have to spend money on gas, parking, and since you are comparing prices you can get a better deal, so you are saving a decent chunk of change. The downside? There are plenty of scammers that try to take advantage of unassuming online shopping by setting up fake coupons, security icons, and popups to trick you into sending them your personal information. For now, these scams are impossible to avoid, but as long as you keep your eye on these common techniques, you will be safer when you do your shopping:

Lack of Contact Information

Even if you are shopping on a site that does not have a physical presence, that site still has to be based SOMEWHERE. If you try to find a contact number, address, or even a little background information and come up short, you may want to reevaluate giving the site your information.

Scareware

Say you are on a site that you believe is a legitimate online retailer website, and out of the blue, a popup appears and it says there is suspicious activity and that your computer is not safe, and for you to press this button to download this anti-virus software. DON’T DO IT. That message may be the virus, and downloading it onto your computer may lead to a whole mess of problems. If you see this message close the window and run your own virus scan through your own virus protection software.

Shop On HTTPS Sites

When you look up at the URL and see “https,” the “s” ensures that the site is secure and that the site encrypts data such as your payment information. Also look for a little green padlock in the address bar as well. If the lock is red and open, then the site isn’t using a secure protocol. So, if you see “https” and a green padlock, then you should feel more comfortable typing in your card information.

Unnecessary Personal Information Request

Once you decide to buy an item, you will have to give away some personal information just as name, phone number, card information, and address. They need to send you the item, don’t they? When you should be cautious is in they are asking for unnecessary information such as social security number, ATM pin number, or your mother’s maiden name.

For more signs your online shopping may end with your information in the hands of scammers, you can read the full article on Cheapism.com.

~Bobby

We previously wrote about the money pitfalls not to fall in during the summer months. Fall in them? It’s understandable if you did. Summer is a notoriously tough season to be frugal. Even with the best intentions of free or cheap activities throughout June and July, you end up spending more than planned. The most carefully organized vacation can end up being mistakenly costly. Now you just got back from a long weekend, you may have had a vacation already or one planned, and now you may have to deal with back to school expenses or other expenses once the fall falls upon us. A lot of money has gone and now we need to start boosting the finances back up. Maybe as quickly as possible. Here are some ways to start quickly making money back as quickly as it was spent. These tactics can get you around $1,000 saved by the time August has arrived:

Skip the Gym

Statistic Brain reports that gym memberships average over $50 a month. Now that we are looking at a couple more months of warm, sunny weather, why spend $100 or $150 to work indoors? You can run, bike, waterski, canoe, play sports, do yoga, or many other exercises outside. Take advantage of the weather! Just don’t do it at the cost of wasting money. Contact your gym and ask if they allow members to freeze their memberships and let you restart in a couple months. If they don’t, then back indoors to work out, it is!

Start a Small Side Job

Time to start raking up the cash with side gigs. It can be washing your neighbor’s car for $20. It can be mowing their grass for $50. You can browse online for the hundreds of sites like Craigslist or UpWork.com that offer jobs from helping somebody move for $200 to an hourly freelance gig that will be worked on for the next couple of months. Whatever type of side job that aligns with your skills is a perfect side job as long as you are making a little money.

Stop Back to School Shopping

It’s reported by the National Retail Federation that the average family that have children from kindergarten to 12th grade spent around $630.40 last year. The best way to save over half of $1,000 by August? Skip school shopping. There’ll be tears. There’ll be fighting. Traditions will be broken, yes BUT, you will have saved a lot of money on what would be items your kids already had. Most of their notebooks have plenty of unused pages with unused pencils to fill them in during the semester. Some kids are going to be unhappy that they are wearing last year cloths, for sure. Convince them they are ahead of the fashion trends.

Use Retailer Sales to Shop

We all have our favorite places to shop and I’m sure there have been many items we’re paid full price for. During these summer months, take advantage of sales during the back to school season, Labor Day, or even a retailer’s Anniversary or Friends & Family event.

For more ways to save $1,000 by August, you can read the full article on Go Banking Rates.

~Bobby