How to Survive and Succeed at Black Friday

November 19th, 2015 | Posted by admin in Holiday - (0 Comments)

We’re only one week away from sitting with our family members, toasting to the love we share for one another, expressing our gratitude for everything we have. That also means we are only one week and one day away from standing in ten below temperatures, waiting for our opportunity to stampede through stores, nose dive into a hoard of shoppers, tackle the owner of the last in-stock television, and make our way to whichever cashier is not hiding under the checkout lane cash register. Black Friday is a tricky and dangerous business. Now, most stores are not going to be like that, but it’s at least funny to think that they will be. Still, Black Friday is a fantastic day to get really worthwhile deals on typically pricy products, but you won’t be able to take advantage of any of them if you don’t have a well-researched plan of attack. If you want to finally attempt Black Friday or have a more successful shot at Black Friday, you want to follow these steps:

Create a Strategy

This is NOT the time to nonchalantly wane in and out of the aisles with your mind focusing more on what’s for dinner than any item you happen to come across that looks decent enough to buy. If it’s an item that is good enough to wait in line before the break of dawn in freezing temperatures just to get a deal on, then likely chances there’s at LEAST ten others that want it just as badly as you do. This is where a good strategy comes in. Make a list of items you plan to get for yourself (and others, of course) and then prioritize them. If you need a new refrigerator but the expense hasn’t played in your favor, you should look up the best Black Friday deals for a refrigerator and make that your first stop. They won’t be there if you go at the end of your shopping spree.

Research Everything

So now you know to research what stores have the best deals for the items you need. What you need to research next is the best path in the store to easily retrieve every item you want. When you leave you want to leave knowing the quickest route between every store you are looking to hit up. There’s no doubt you will run into a lot of traffic from a lot of other eager shoppers. Having knowledge of all the shortcuts and what stores with the best deals that are close together will be quite advantageous.

Arrive Two Hours Early

You may even want to go three or more hours before opening if you can. It isn’t an uncommon practice for shoppers to drive to the stores minutes after eating their pumpkin pie and saying their goodbyes at the table. There’s no beating THOSE folks unless you join them. Still, the earlier the better. Just make sure to dress appropriately and maybe bring a friend or two since you will be waiting in line for quite a while.

Check Online

Now, why lose sleep and dignity if you don’t have to? There is a chance every item you are looking for it right in the comfort and warmth of your own home. At least on your laptop it is… Some equally great deals can be purchased right on the store’s main webpage! Check to see the online deals before making an unnecessary trek outside. You can also look at sites like Amazon who have become pros at the Black Friday and Cyber Monday game. You can find things you didn’t even realized you needed there! And it’s a heck of a lot simpler. Have fun!

For more tips how to succeed and survive Black Friday, you can read the full Cheapism article.


What is GAP insurance, and Do I Need It?

November 12th, 2015 | Posted by admin in Auto - (0 Comments)

Did you know that vehicles are often the biggest ticket purchase most people make after their home? It’s certainly understandable with today’s prices ranging from a low of about $18,000 for a small sedan (like a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla) up to about $50,000 for a large SUV (like a Chevy Tahoe), and even higher (a new Cadillac Escalade can cost over $80,000). So what usually goes hand in hand with that new or used vehicle purchase? Financing.

According Experian’s auto finance arm, the number of vehicle buyers who pay cash continues to shrink, a favorable trend for dealer finance & insurance (F&I) departments since cash buyers don’t generate the “back-end” profits dealers have come to rely on. In fact, according to Automotive News, AutoNation, the nation’s largest publicly held auto dealer, recently reported quarterly F&I profits of $1,546 per vehicle sold. Again, this is the profit made on the back-end, after the purchase and trade-in have already been negotiated.

The majority of F&I profit is built into the sale of products, like extended warranties, paint & fabric protection, tire & wheel protection, ding & dent protection, and GAP (guaranteed asset protection) insurance. As all of these products are added (plus sales tax and fees in some cases), the amount of your loan goes way up. In other words, you’re borrowing more money using the basic vehicle as collateral.

In addition; with the increase in loan amounts, many borrowers are extending out their loan terms in order to get a more manageable monthly payment. What does this do? Well, the longer the term, the longer it takes to pay down the principal. Yet, the biggest depreciation in the value of the vehicle takes place when it’s driven out the door.

As a result, over one third of all auto loan borrowers owe more than their vehicle is worth. And this higher loan-to-value (LTV) ratio can come to haunt you in the event your vehicle is lost, stolen, or totaled in an accident. 

Consider a scenario; member purchases vehicle with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $25,000 for let’s say $23,500. After adding in fees and sales tax, plus paint & fabric protection and an extended warranty, the member borrows about $28,000. If this member totals their vehicle, the insurance company will pay only the book value (less the deductible) leaving the member with no vehicle and a substantial loan balance. Ouch!

That’s where GAP insurance comes in. GAP is a one-time purchase (made at the time of the loan) and protects the member against any balance owed on top of the insurance settlement. This amount can be huge, as in the above scenario. So the member in this case would be all set if they chose GAP insurance on their loan, or have big problems if they didn’t.

So when financing a vehicle, our Auto Advisors always consider the need for GAP insurance, along with the particulars of the coverage (think GAP vs GAP+) and the price. And since most GAP policies are attached to the loan, it’s prudent to look at both together.

Please check with our Auto Advisors or loan team if you have any questions about GAP insurance, auto loans, or shopping for your next vehicle.

Auto Advisor is our hassle-free buying service that helps members save time and money on the purchase of new or used vehicles. And there is no charge to the member for the service!

~David Brown

Auto Advisor


Each and every day, we are forever grateful for the men and women who serve our military and risk their lives protecting the country they love. To show our appreciation and thanks, we’ve been celebrating Veterans Day (previously Armistice Day) wholeheartedly for the last 96 years, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1919 when the official truce between the allied and axis powers was created.

Like several businesses and organizations, restaurants say thanks to veterans by offering terrific deals on November 11th. Free and discounted meals can be found at several popular restaurants around New England. So, for all you veterans out there, we are pleased to show you what discounts you can receive at these food joints:


Your favorite neighborhood franchise has created a Thank You Movement, and on November 11th 2015, the movement is thanking all active and retired members of the military by offering them a free meal from a special menu any time of day with a valid proof of service.

BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse

Any veteran that brings their military ID to a participating BJ’s get a free meal that is under $12.95.

Buffalo Wild Wings

If you head to you can find a solid deal for veterans where, depending on the location, they get a 10% military discount.


For any Denny’s participating in the Veterans Day 2015 discount, all members in the military that are active, inactive, and retired can build a Grand Slam for free between 5am to 12pm.


Still have that military ID? You must by this point. Friendly’s is serving free breakfast, lunch, AND dinner this Wednesday.

Longhorn Steakhouse

While Longhorn only offers lunch and dinner, you can nonetheless get free items such as a free Texas Tonion and a free non-alcoholic drink.

Ninety-Nine Restaurant & Pub

It’s not just Veterans Day that the Ninety-Nine offers a discount to the military. Anyone who shows their military ID gets a 10% discount every day of the year.

Olive Garden

All veterans, active and retired, can enjoy a free meal from a special Olive Garden menu which includes an app and entrée.

Orange Leaf

Bring in your ID, like usual, or show up in your military uniform and you can enjoy a free cup of frozen yogurt.

Outback Steakhouse

For this one, your military ID will get you a free Bloomin’ Onion appetizer.

Red Lobster

Come to Red Lobster and they will give you a free appetizer or a free desert from a special menu they have for you.

Texas Steakhouse & Saloon

Member of the military? If you aren’t, then thank you for reading to the end of the blog anyway, you will receive 10% off of your meal.

For more deals you can get on Veterans Day, you can read the full Go Banking Rates article.


Fun, Cheap Costumes to Make for Halloween

October 29th, 2015 | Posted by admin in Holiday - (0 Comments)

What’s scarier than all the haunted houses, horror movies, and the amount of money spent on candy this year? When there’s only three days till Halloween and having no costume! If it has to do with the amount you’ve already spent on the holiday, we understand. The National Retail Federation reports that the average Halloween celebrator will spend an average $74.34 on candy, costumes and decorations. That makes the 150+ million Americans that go all out in spooky fashion collectively spend an estimated $6.9 billion. With all this money you’re already spending, there just may not be any more extra cash to spend on the costume. Yet, whether it’s the trick-or-treaters that will be knocking at your door or your group of friends at this year’s Halloween party, they will be awaiting to see your costume, and luckily it doesn’t take much time or money to have a really great one. Think outside the box and try one of these cheap, creative costumes:

An Animal

This is one of the more easy costumes on this list. If you have a sweat suit or track suit that is one solid color, then you’re off to a good start. Is it a green suit? Be a frog! Brown? Bear! Pink? Pig! If there is a specific animal you want to be without a coordinating sweat suit then go through your closest and find a sweatshirt, and pants that will fit the animal’s color. After that you just need the proper ears and tail. For the eyes, you can take some fabric and place your newly created eyes and put them on a headband. The tail can be created by cutting off a piece of fabric and tying it your body with some yarn.


You’d be the talk of the party if you rock a grapes costume. First thing to do is to cover yourself head to toe in green. If you’d like to take your costume to the next level, see if they have green skin paint at your closest dollar store. Then go ahead and air up several purple balloons and cover yourself with them. Hopefully no one tries popping all of them before the night is over!

Stick Figure

To do this costume, you’ll need an entire outfit of black clothes you don’t mind getting rid of when November comes around. Once you acquire your black outfit from your wardrobe, buy a can of neon spray. It can be any color you’d like (except for black of course; that would be pointless) and spray a stick figure line down the entire outfit, using an old sweatshirt’s hood as the head. Boom! You’re now two dimensional.


Have a big, old box lying around? It could come in handy. Paint the box a color that you would see in a box full of Legos. Then you can paint six solo cups the same color as the box. Next up, glue the solo cups three in a row on opposite sides of the box. You can look at Lego pieces beforehand to get the gist. Before you wear your costume, remove the bottom of the box, and cut out hole for you to put your head and hands through. Maybe you’ll meet a nice, lovely Lego companion on your adventures out that night. That would be a wonderful meet cute story to tell the grandkids.

For more cheap costume ideas to make this Halloween, you can read the full Cheapism article.


Could you count on your fingers how many times you have had a conversation via phone call this last week? More people are able to do so more than ever before. Unless you’re counting the millions of years before the creation of the phone, of course. Nonetheless, that is not preventing scammers from still using phone calls as one of their primary ways of stealing victims’ personal information. Besides the ghosts, zombies, witches or scarecrows that come with the typical fears that come with October, the most frightening thing is these phone scams. It is what you should actually be scared of, and these are the ones to be most cautious about:

Sweepstakes/Loan Approval

Let’s imagine a day where you didn’t get a good night’s sleep last night, it was a stressful day at the office, and your dinner tastes a little too over cooked. Sounds terrible, right? When you get a phone call out of the blue declaring, “YOU’RE A WINNER!” or “YOU”VE BEEN APPROVED!” the rest of that miserable day seems to just dissipate from your memory. You get some money coming in your way and you didn’t have to do anything! …wait. That’s a little strange, isn’t it? You didn’t apply for a loan or enter a sweepstakes. Why is this person calling you saying otherwise? THIS is the question you must ask when confronting a call of this nature.

Your Grandchildren

When it comes to grandparents, they can sometimes be lucky enough to get a call from their child, never mind their grandchild. This is why it is so tragic when a scammer will call up an elderly citizen posing as their grandchild who is in need of financial help immediately. By making it seem urgent, the victims do not even get a second chance to think of what they are doing as they wire a scammer their money. No scam could be much crueler than that…except for when a scammer poses as a kidnapper who has kidnapped a family member and demands money wired immediately to them or harm will come to their family member.


Yes, you.  When you get a call on your phone from your own number, curiosity may kill the cat. Don’t let it! This is used as a test for scammers to collect the numbers who answer the call. If you answer this bizarre call, chances are good you will answer the phone to scammers in the future.


This scam is the most recurring of all the scams listed. Even for citizens not going through any financial issues, threats of going to jail if you don’t pay your debts are going to shake you up quite a bit. How frequent is this occurrence? Frequent enough that the IRS have had to post numerous articles listing things that prove your phone call as a scam. Some examples are threating to make an arrest, demanding your payment immediately, or demanding a payment be on a prepaid debit card.


After years of us blogging about avoiding all suspicious looking emails, we hope that you have grown keen to any emails that might be scams. Unfortunately, hackers have grown keen to your keenness. Instead of sending emails that possibly contain malware, they will call you posing as a tech company stating that they have detected malware and ask permission for remote access to your computer. If you agree, then all the information stored on your computer is theirs for the taking. Sneaky, we know. Be aware of this trick next time you receive a call on a tech issue.

For more information on the phone calls that should scare you the most, you can read the full article.


Smartest Ways to Pay off Your Debts

October 15th, 2015 | Posted by admin in Smart Spending - (0 Comments)

Ah, debt. A notion as old as the tyrannosaurus rex, yet, unlike the T-rex, standing perfectly still and not doing anything won’t make a debt go away when you cross its path. In fact, it’s going to just keep getting worse. Sure, the debt may not look too bad at the moment, but it won’t be too far along when it seems too intimidating to even start handling. This is why it’s smart to face your debt head on. Create a strategy that will eliminate the debt quickly before your eyes. Here are some of the smartest ways to pay off those lasting debts:

Pay More than the Minimum Balance

Now, as you would assume, no one enjoys paying debts. And most, if not all, people in some sort of debt could think of a thousand of ways they could spend their hard earned money. This is why, to many folks, the most appealing option is just scraping up the money to pay monthly minimum. The minimum is typically around 2 or 3% of the outstanding balance. For just a second, let’s think of ALL of the things you could do with your money after you remove the burden of debt off of your shoulders. That makes you want to rid this debt quicker than that, right? Try one of two options. Either turn your monthly debt payments into weekly debt payments, or doubling your monthly payment.

Most Expensive to Least Expensive

Once the biggest one goes, none of the others will look so bad in comparison. When dealing with credit card payments, pay off the balance that has the highest interest first. This increases your payments on the credit card with the highest percentage rate while you will continue to make the minimum payments on your other credit cards.

Creating Your Budget

The key to any strategic final planning is creating your budget. Without this roadmap to guide you in your financial decisions by laying out your monthly income and your expenses, you will be likely to make less than desired decisions on where to cut costs. Being in debt in the first place is a perfect reason why you should be cutting back costs no matter how small. Your budget doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. Just set one up on an Excel spreadsheet. If you would prefer a little extra assistance, try the personal finance tools on a site such as

Placing Bonuses towards Debt

That’s a pretty sweet holiday bonus you got this year. Hey! Instead of a weekend getaway, why don’t you use it towards that debt that’s been giving you a holiday headache for the past three months? That will give you a big leap forward on your payments, and give you some extra holiday cheer in your heart.

For more information on the smartest ways to pay off your debts, you can read the full US News & World Report article.


When the wedding bells start ringing, your savings account starts cha-chinging. After spending a fortune on the rings, wedding, reception, tears, and a little sprinkle of regret, it may come as a huge relief that The Atlantic has reported couples can save from $480,000 to over $1,000,000 in their lifetime after being married. For our married readers, good thing you didn’t get cold feet, huh? Here are the ways a marriage can save you money:

Purchases in Bulk

What better location for a honeymoon than Costco? Already been? Live it up at BJs. Signing up for a Membership at one of these stores and then sharing all of your bulk purchases will shave you lots of money in the future. Spilt the cost of paper towels, toilet paper, food, etc. You would be getting tons and tons of supplies for just a fraction of the cost. Marriage is great, isn’t it?!

College Tuition

There is a new fad sweeping colleges around the globe. It’s not a fashion. It’s not a source of entertainment. It’s…getting married? Let’s correct that. It’s getting married to save money on tuition. If you are a prospective student and you are looking to qualify for lower in-state tuition, there are not many better pieces of proof of financial independence than being married. There are multiple California universities that have given in-state tuition to out-of-state students because they are married. Just make sure your parents no longer claim you as dependent.

Splitting the Bills

Whether having a roommate or just going out with a friend, it is likely that you have had to split a bill. Now, just take that process and spilt it with your spouse! Firstly, you may want to look into creating a joint account. Both of you agreed to put this money in, so there shouldn’t be a problem agreeing to use it as your source as your bill payments. Only half of every bill that comes your way, sounds like a good deal to us.

Social Security

This may be a little morbid to think about right after the wedding, but we all are going to die at some point. Look into, hopefully way longer down the road, into Survivor’s Benefits. This means that depending on the deceased spouse and the surviving partner’s age, the living spouse can go on collecting the other’s Social Security.

The Benefits

If both you and your partner have benefits at your workplace, being married can help you pick and choose the ones you both prefer at both companies. Maybe the dental is better at theirs than yours. Maybe your health insurance is to die to for. Sit down with each other and right out the pros and cons.

For more information on why getting married can make you rich, you can read the full Cheapism article


Things to Buy in October

October 1st, 2015 | Posted by admin in Smart Spending - (0 Comments)

The most scream worthy aspect of this spooky month is the deals you can get on a few particular items. Yes, that was a pretty cheesy introductory sentence, but a true one nonetheless. With the start of October upon us, you can use your strategic buying skills with a few tips from this blog to purchase an inexpensive car, go on a vacation of your dreams, prepare for next year’s warm seasons, or look tremendous in this year’s Halloween outfit. Let’s get started shall we? Here are some of the best items to buy in October:

A Vacation

October is that vacation sweet spot with summer traveling ending the month previous and holiday traveling starting up next month. There is still enough pleasant weather and enough lack of other tourists to have a marvelous time at a reasonable price. Due to the lack of vacations in the month of October, many vacation hot spots like cruises or resorts lower their price quite a bit. No other people AND lowered vacation costs? Why would anyone take a vacation NOT in October?!

A Car

A car? Really? That’s kind of a random month to buy a car. Well, not quite. All the newest car models are coming in any day now so the dealers are getting a little antsy to swipe those last year cars off of the lot. While you will probably not luck out with having the deal come close to paying you to take an older car off of their hands, you are likely to come to a very nice deal in your favor.

Halloween Products

You may think that this is exactly the wrong time to buy Halloween related things, and you are not completely incorrect. The best time to buy you Halloween products would’ve been in November when everything “Halloween” has huge discounts. If you didn’t plan ahead and are now stuck, never fear. The closer the date, the more discounted the items will be. If you do your purchasing mid-October, there will be a slight drop in price while not having the annoyance of too few of options left.


Even Cousin Earl can tell you with his consecutive six day worn Led Zeppelin t-shirt, cargo shorts, and muddy, worn work boots can tell you that denim is in a strange place right now. Outdated from the summer and far too early to wear for next spring, denim prices lower while they reside in the fashion vortex until they are social acceptable to wear again next year.

Summer Items

This one may go without saying. Heck, we even had a recent blog about it that you can read here. Bathing suits, patio furniture, grills, and sunglasses are all items that can be owned by you for far less than what they were worth four months ago. Plus you are going to need a new bathing suit and sunglasses when you go on the inexpensive October cruise we recommended earlier!

For more things you should buy in October, you can read the full Cheapism article.


Happy birthday! Unless it’s not your birthday yet, then happy future birthday! What did we get you this year? Now try not to get too antsy! Our gift to you is listing every place that can offer you something FREE or DISCOUNTED! What better two words are there to hear on your birthday other than “Happy birthday?” We don’t wish to keep the birthday party waiting much longer so here is your list:

Please note: Many of these options require being a member to their company rewards programs or receiver of their newsletter.

Free Retail Gifts

  • Gift at Sephora
  • Gift for your child at Toys R Us
  • Gift at Victoria’s Secret
  • Gift at Famous Footwear
  • Gift at Bare Minerals
  • Free popcorn and Showcase Cinemas
  • Free movie admission at Regal Entertainment Group
  • Free movie at Redbox
  • Free $5 gift card at Ace Hardware
  • Free $10 worth of game play at Dave & Busters
  • Free $ 5 gift card at DSW
  • 3 Extra Care Bucks at CVS

Discounted Retail Deals

  • 20% off coupon at Hallmark
  • 20% off coupon at Columbia Sportswear
  • 15% off coupon at American Eagle
  • 10% off coupon for World Market

Free Restaurant Deals

  • Free drink at Starbucks
  • Free meal at IHOP
  • Free lunch at Subway
  • Free app or dessert at Olive Garden
  • Free waffle at Waffle House
  • Free sandwhich at Einstein Bros Bagels
  • Free dessert at Applebee’s
  • Free donut at Krispy Kreme
  • Free burger at Red Robin
  • Free yogurt at TCBY
  • Free chocolate fondue at The Melting Pot
  • Free burrito at Qdoba Mexican Grill

For more free deals you can get on your birthday, you can read the full MoneyTalksNews article.


There are a couple of uncontestable statements that we are going to boldly state. The first statement is that it is fun to have fun. The second one being that making money is great. We have listed today some of the most enjoyable activities to do that can also make you some cash. Not all of these may suit your fancy, and some of these will take a lot of work and passion to put out some money worthy content, but all in all, try pick and choosing a few from this list and you will be doing what you love and possibly be happily compensated:

Starting a Blog

Hey. You’re already reading this one, so you clearly already have some interest in blogging. Maybe when you’re reading a blog, you are disappointed to see every one of them never have information that you would like to know. Why doesn’t this blog about cheese tell you what type of cheese to eat at what country during vacation?! If it’s not there, it’s the perfect opportunity to start it yourself. Time to become the preeminent blogger you didn’t know you were destined to be until this very second whilst reading this paragraph. You just need to start one using WordPress, Blogger, or Squarespace. Build yourself a beautiful blog with captivating content, and make it as entertaining as it is informative. An entertaining blog without substance or an informative blog without any pizzazz could both work, but won’t stretch as far as a perfectly balanced blog. But wait! How do we make money with this? Simple. One way is if your content is spectacular and the blog takes off, advertisers will throw money at you to showcase their products on your site. Another way is to use the Google Ads technology AdSense. Another way we’ll throw at you is to join Amazon Associates and put their links on your blog. A last option we’ll list is that if you have blogged so much that your writing could make a book, then make a book! You can package it and sell it as an e-book.

Take Pictures

Have an Instagram? You’re one step into turning it into a small career. Granted you’ll have to invest a little more money to buy more professional photography equipment. After that purchase feel free to capture away! Once you’ve built yourself a decently sized collection of remarkable shots upload them to one or more stock photography sites.  iStockPhoto, BigStockPhoto, and Shutterstock are a few examples. This isn’t a guarantee to boost your finances, but possibly in a week or possibly in seven years from now, your photos may be bought by companies or publications and that is when you will earn a little extra change.

Selling Baked Goods

If you’re keen to making bread or other delicious baked goods on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, then don’t just waste that talent on your family or loved ones, use it on yourself to make money! OK, we’re kidding of course, but if it is a talent and hobby of yours, you may as well take advantage of it. Whether it’s bread, cookies, cake, honey, jam, or whatever else, take your homemade items to the closest farmer’s market and discuss with the operators what they’ll let you sell. After you all come to an agreement, you can sell your goods to the community.

Put Your Arts and Crafts Online

Those quilts and scarves you’ve been making for years deserve to be used by the entire world, so you should give them to everyone! For a price, of course. Let’s not forget that is the main objective of this article. Look into using the site Etsy. This is an Amazon-like site but instead of factory made products, it’s full of extraordinarily talented people posting dresses, furniture, toys, games, and accessories that they all made themselves! So open our own Etsy store, post pictures of your items, and let your business thrive!

Making Movies

Now, we’re not asking for a slide show of you and the folks on your weeklong trip at Martha’s Vineyard. Sorry. We’re sure it was lovely. What we advise you to do is to pick up a camera, think of a really cool idea for a five minute movie, and shoot it. It can be of a puppy superhero or a back flipping grandma. If it’s funny, intriguing, heartwarming, adorable, or all of the above, it may make a splash on YouTube, and the more popular it becomes, the more money will come streaming in.

For more ways to have fun while making money, you can read the full Simple Dollar article.