Archive for September, 2009

Online savings accounts pack a big punch

Saving money. Everyone is thinking about it. Whether it’s cutting back on small expenditures, putting off big ones or simply squirreling away a little from each paycheck, most Americans are trying to build a soft cushion to catch themselves in hard times.

Tucking that extra something away in a bank savings account may be the most traditional route, but it’s not necessarily the smartest, said Bankrate.com senior financial analyst Greg McBride. Most banks barely approach 1 percent interest rates on savings accounts, and many don’t even come close to that.

As people look for ways to maximize their effort, more are turning to online savings accounts, where interest yield rates are well below what they’ve been, but still substantially better than brick and mortar banking institutions.

” Letting savings pile up in a savings account or checking account at the big bank on the corner isn’t going to cut it,” McBride said. “But seeking out a top yielding savings account will give you …

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All CVS store brand items 40% off: Are store brands worth the savings?

I went to CVS drugstore this week looking for an over-the-counter medicine to help me deal with a lingering sinus headache. Right next to a name brand item was the CVS brand — more than $2 cheaper and promising the same results.

I admit. I was feeling too bad to take a chance on a generic store brand, so I opted for the more expensive item. Given this latest CVS promotion, I’d re-think that decision. Today through Sept. 27, all CVS store brand items are 40 percent off. Doing my math, that sinus medicine would have cost me less than $3. Perhaps I’d feel the same way I do now, which is to say only slightly better.

Store brands can sometimes be as much as 50 percent less expensive than popular name brands. However, consumers aren’t always confident they’ll get the same quality. How likely are you to try a store brand? What items have you found to be not worth the savings? Which were the equivalent, or better, than the name brands?

Indeed, sales of store brands surged more than 10 …

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Free today: Chick-Fil-A | Carvel | Boston Market | State Fair | Movie | Cold Stone

Free Today

North Georgia State Fair:

Admission to the North Georgia State Fair is free today for opening night. As always, the heftiest cost comes with the rides, but tonight, you get all rides you can handle for $18.

Carvel:

Carvel Ice Cream is giving away its Oreo Lil’ Rounders today, Sept. 24. Stop by any participating Carvel shop between 3-7 p.m. on Thursday to try one of Carvel’s newest treats.

Cold Stone Creamery 3-ounce freebie:

The Make A Wish Foundation and Cold Stone Creamery have partnered to host the “World’s Largest Ice Cream Social,” a fundraising event to benefit this worthy organization. Also on Sept. 24, enjoy a 3-ounce ‘Creation’ developed by 5-year-old wish child and 2009 Junior Tastemaster, Jack. He’s on to something, combining sweet ice cream with brownie, sprinkles and fudge. Jack’s Creation will be available from 5-8 p.m. in exchange for a donation to a local Make-A-Wish Foundation chapter. You can also visit your local Cold Stone Creamery …

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5 Cheap Date Ideas: Ride faster | Corner pocket | Helping hand | more

Cheap date ideas translate into big-time fun and excitement every week here at Atlanta Bargain Hunter. We’re determined to dig up the best dates out for couples — for $40 or less. If you have ideas, send an email or enter your comments below. And be sure to check out all the other cheap, frugal and fun outings we’ve mentioned here before.

Go Faster!

The Petit Le Mans event blows through town this weekend at Road Atlanta in Braselton. That’s out of our budget, but the need for speed is revving inside of us, anyway. Perhaps the best way to get that aggression out, and laugh at yourself in the process, is to hop in a Go Kart. I found this one at Malibu Grand Prix in Norcross for only $3 a ride every day from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. Of course, there are others around town. You can make a day of it by playing video games and riding bumper cars, too. Keep in mind, though, that the individual activities add up in a hurry. Go for a package deal that will combine multiple activities and bring …

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Do you grade financial success in big ways or small?

I came across an article recently on The Simple Dollar blog about the link between consumerism and quality of life. It caused me pause, as I evaluated whether I connect the two. Am I happiest when I’m spending money? Does my quality of life improve when I’m able to indulge in things that cost money, like vacations, eating out and attending high-ticket events like concerts and sporting events?

Or, am I happiest when I’m spending time with my family, going for a jog, reading a book or coaching kids?

The honest answer, for me at least, is probably a little of both.

The blog essentially contrasted two thoughts.

This, from SmartSpending:

I’ve never understood the unending supply of articles telling people to skip a cup of coffee or brown bag lunch just to save a few dollars. It helps, sure, but it won’t save you if you’ve made bad decisions on major expenses. I completely agree that if you plan carefully and take care of the big things – the long term major expenses in …

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Free admission to 9 museums Saturday | Discounted Hawks, Thrashers tickets | Atlanta Garden special

Free Smithsonian Museum Day

Saturday marks Smithsonian Museum Day, which means all affiliated museums will have free general admission. You’ll need to click here to download and print out a free admission card, which is good for you and a guest.  To learn about Museum Day from the AJC’s Howard Pousner, click here: Local participating museums include:

Archibald Smith Plantation Home, Roswell

Barrington Hall, Roswell

Bulloch Hall, Roswell

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Global Health Odyssey Museum, Atlanta

Center for Puppetry Arts, Atlanta

Hammonds House Museum, Atlanta

High Museum of Art, Atlanta

Marietta Museum of History, Marietta

Museum of Design, Atlanta

For a complete list, nationally and throughout Georgia, of participating museums, click here.

Fest of Ale and Gift Shop Sale

If you’ve been to the Atlanta Botanical Garden, you’ve undoubtedly stopped in the gift shop, where unique gifts often crafted by locals are on display. On Oct. 1 and Oct. 15, you can …

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DIY: Installing a new kitchen faucet

Why pay exorbitant amounts of money for kitchen repairs you can do yourself for half the cost? This week’s DIY is installing a kitchen faucet. Home Depot’s Continte Smith, a department supervisor at the Midtown store, walks us through these simple five steps.

1. Cut your water off: It seems simple, but it’s a step people sometimes skip. Once you do that, label your supply line hot and cold as you’re disconnecting.

2. Once you take the faucet off, you want to clean the surface before installing your new faucet.

3. Use clear caulk. Once you put your new faucet in and put the base in, you’ll want to use some clear caulk around the base. This will keep the new faucet in place and prevent leaks.

4. Test for leaks at the end. Don’t just walk away from your job. Make sure you test the faucet for leaks.

Q: How do you choose a faucet?

A: Find a faucet that is appealing to you, taking into consideration the various finishes.  You also want to consider price points.

Q: What tools do I …

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5 tips to avoid flood recovery scam artists

Tragedy and disaster generally results in an out-pouring of community aid: neighbors helping neighbors clean debris, emergency aid services providing food and shelter and citizens everywhere donating clothing and supplies.

But too often, on the other side of goodwill stands an opportunistic scam artist waiting to pounce on the desperate and hurting. Consumer advocate Clark Howard, whose nationally syndicated radio show is heard locally on WSB-AM 750, provided tips on how to avoid getting scammed by people claiming to help in flood recovery efforts.

1. The answer to everybody is ‘No.’

“Unless you have a pre-existing relationship with a contractor, or you have a neighbor whose had experience with them, you have to say no or you’re in for heartache later. In these times, it’s like locusts invade within hours.”

2. Call your homeowner’s insurance company

“Even if someone doesn’t have insurance that covers whatever happened, call the homeowner’s insurance company and get referrals …

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Special discounts on Hawks, Thrashers season-openers

The Atlanta Falcons are just getting started and are off to a 2-0 start. Still, it’s never too early to start thinking about the Hawks and Thrashers, who get their seasons underway next month. It’s hard to catch your breath with all of the sporting activities, but slow down and take in these deep discounts for the Hawks and Thrashers first two games.

Both offers for select games are for purchases made this week only, using promo code ‘gtsui’:

Purchase lower level tickets for $30 and upper level tickets for $15. Lower level tickets normally start at $50.

The eligible games for the Thrashers are opening night Oct. 3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Oct. 22 against the Washington Capitals.

Hawks games include the season-opener Oct. 28 against the Indiana Pacers and Oct. 30 against the Washington Wizards.

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How to save on eating out

We love to eat out, but we don’t like paying full-price for it — ever. That’s why coupons for restaurants are so popular, as are Facebook and Twitter feeds for local and national eateries.

While those are two good ways to score deals on eating out — free appetizers, buy one get one free entrees, specials of the night — they aren’t the only ways.

The Great American Dine Out, a promotion aimed at stamping out hunger, runs through Sept. 26. Restaurants have all sorts of incentives to get diners in, with many donating portions of their proceeds to hunger relief efforts. With that in mind, here are some excellent tips from Smart Money on how to save on eating out.

Here’s an excerpt:

To fill tables during slow times, many restaurants are working with reservation sites that give discounts to diners who reserve ahead of time. At free site DinnerBroker, the discount can be as much as 30% if you’re willing to eat dinner at 6 p.m. (you’re more likely to pay full fare if you want to …

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