Archive for August, 2010

Midtown Restaurant Week | Spa deals | Atlanta Ice Cream Festival | RA Sushi deal

SpaFinder Deal Days

SpaFinder Deal Days will be held throughout the country, including here, Sept. 20-26. It’s a chance to indulge in spa treatments that might ordinarily be out of your budget, with all treatments either 50 percent off or $50. Take, for instance, the 60-minute customized massage for $83 — normally $165 — at Remede Spa at The St. Regis. Or the 75-minute Triple Oxygen Treatment facial for $80 (regularly $160) at Bliss. To see the full list of participating locations, click here. Appointments can be booked beginning today. Although Wellness Week, which will feature the SpaFinder Deal Days, isn’t until Sept. 20-26, appointments will be booked quickly.

Midtown Restaurant Week

With 27 restaurants to choose from, there’s sure to be some place you’ll want to visit during Midtown Restaurant Week, Sept. 4-12. There will be three-course $25 dinners and several places will also have $15 lunches. For the full list of restaurants, including popular spots like Ocenaire …

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SWAPtember arts discounts | $15 tix to “Gut Bucket Blues” | 80% off | Aquarium discounts | Free cheesecake

SWAPtember for discounts

The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center (ACAC) has joined 11other  cultural attractions around metro Atlanta to promote SWAPtember — a month of discounts on admission, membership and other benefits available at the participating venues. Present your ACAC membership card to redeem the discounts. If you’re a member of one of the cultural attractions but not the ACAC, you can join now and get an additional month of membership free. The other attractions include: The High Museum, Atlanta History Center, Callaway Gardens, Zoo Atlanta, Fernbank Museum, Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Imagine It! Children’s Museum, ACAC, Michael C. Carlos Museum and Georgia Shakespeare. To see the discounts available at each location, click here.

$15 tickets to “Gut Bucket Blues”

Only 10 days remain to get discounted tickets to see a portrayal of Bessie Smith’s life in “Gut Bucket Blues” at Balzer Theatre at Herren’s. Use promo code EARLYHALF by Sept. 3 to secure …

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How to maximize your Social Security benefits

James Daniel, certified financial planner with The Advisory Firm

James Daniel, certified financial planner with The Advisory Firm.

James Daniel, a certified financial planner and founder of The Advisory Firm, answers questions today about Social Security benefits. Each week, a planner or adviser discusses relevant and timely topics to help you with your financial strategies.

If you have a question for any of the planners on our team, send an email to

Q: Last year at age 62, I was laid off and immediately filed for early Social Security benefits.  I have since found a new job paying well above the income limit when taking early Social Security benefits.  What are my options?

A: It’s a great question and one that many readers may relate to.  When you take your Social Security benefits early (age 62 is the earliest you can apply) you are restricted in the amount of income you can earn all the way until your “full retirement age” as defined by the Social Security Administration.  This year if you have gross income (W2 …

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Bargaineering: How to Recover from a Lost Wallet

The best time to take action on this blog post is now. Right after you read it, get busy.

Jim Wang, author of the Bargaineering blog, has put together a Financial Contingency Plan series — a number of blogs to prepare you for the unexpected. Losing your wallet, your job or your health. Losing valuables in your home, your identity and more. You get the idea.

This particular post is about Recovering from a Lost Wallet. The tips are easy to follow, but are also the kinds of the things we often say we’ll do, but don’t follow through on. Then, when we actually do lose our wallet, we go into a tailspin. To avoid that trouble, or at least minimize it, take Jim’s advice.

1. Remove things you don’t need.

It doesn’t make sense to carry around credit cards you don’t use or other vital information that you do not need on a daily basis. The best way to avoid losing these items is to keep them in a safe place in your home instead.

“Clean your wallet out ever single day of the junk you don’t …

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11 big Atlanta deals: All the deal site bargains in one place $65 for one-month starting weight-loss package from Weight Loss MD. Value: $199. Bonus: When 40 people buy this deal, everyone gets a free vitamin B-12 shot ($25 value). $149 for three laser hair removal treatments from Youthtopia Med Spa. Value: 81 percent off. $15 for food and drinks at P’cheen bistro and pub. Value: $35. $25 for a certified in-home computer repair and virus protection software from My Cured Computer. Value: $150. $99 for a keratin hair treatment at It’s All In The Cut Hair Salon. Value: 75 percent off. $39.99 for body scrub, two facials and hair cut and style from Atlanta’s Finest Salon & Spa. Value: up to $200. $175 for two one-hour Beaming White of Buckhead whitening sessions. Value: $600. $4 for Red Brick Brewery Tour, includes pint glass and beer tasting. Value: $8. (side deal): $18 for half-day whitewater …

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Savings inventory: What more could you be doing?

I want to save more money.

Who doesn’t? Every so often, I pause to take financial inventory. While I make every effort to save money, it doesn’t hurt to stop and ask, “What more could I be doing?”

Here’s the thing about saving money — sometimes, you have to get out of your comfort zone and make some sacrifices. Saving can at times mean giving up a habit, breaking routine or simply working harder.

It could be trying a less-expensive brand of your favorite product. Getting to work a different way. Eliminating costly little routines, like stopping at the convenience store every day on the way home. Or, it could be bigger things, like switching service providers, trading in a new model with a payment to an older model that’s payment free our putting off something big you’ve wanted to buy.

The thing is, while there are some fundamental ways we can all save, there are also changes we can make individually to impact our own situation.

What’s next for me? I’m moving things out of …

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Thousands make 401 (k) hardship withdrawals

Disturbing news this morning: A record number of workers made hardship withdrawals from their retirement accounts in the second quarter, according to this Associated Press article.

Under hardship rules, people are sacrificing their retirement savings funds to meet more immediate needs like college tuition, medical expenses, costs relating to the purchase of a primary home, money for payments to prevent eviction or foreclosure, burial and funeral expenses and for repairs for damage to primary homes.

Fidelity reported that about 62,000 initiated a hardship withdrawal in the second quarter, the AP said. That’s up from 45,000 in the same period a year ago, with the average worker initiating a hardship between the ages of 35-55. Additionally, some people have applied twice — paying a 10 percent penalty on their retirement fund as well as taxes.

Question: Have you made a hardship withdrawal? What were the circumstances? Is your 401(k) money considered funds you would never …

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Use promo code to save | Ted’s Montana Grill coupon | Callaway special

Sale on all offers is one of my favorite Atlanta deal sites. I love the fact that they have a variety of offers every day to choose from, rather than just one big offer. But they also have the one gigantic discount daily as well. Here’s a way to save even more on the deals you’ll see on the site. Through midnight Aug. 22, use promo code “iloveatlanta” to save an additional 10 percent off everything they have.

Special $79 rate at Callaway Gardens Mountain Creek Inn

Callaway Gardens is a stone’s throw away from Atlanta, but it has a way of making you feel like you’ve really traveled. I may jump on this special $79 per night rate at Callaway Gardens Mountain Creek Inn. The rate is applicable on these select dates:  August 19, 20, 21, 26, 29, 30, 31 and September 1, 2. The stay also includes admission to the Gardens.

$5 off $15 at Ted’s Montana Grill

Looking to save on lunch or dinner? Here’s a coupon for $5 off $15 at Ted’s Montana Grill. I …

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American Express ranks highest in customer satisfaction; Citi Cards among lowest

American Express ranks highest in customer satisfaction, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study released today.

The study focused on six key factors: interaction, credit card terms, billing and payment process, benefits and services, rewards and problem resolution.

American Express came in on top for the fourth-consecutive year, followed by Discover Card, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo. Finishing at the bottom of the list were Citi Cards and HSBC. The survey is based on the responses of 8,500 credit card customers, and conducted in and May and June.

While overall customer satisfaction increased by nine points (from 705 to 714 on a 1,000-point scale), the number of customers who say they “definitely will not switch” primary cards in the next 12 months continues to decline — from 30 percent in 2008 to 22 percent this year.

According to Michael Beird, director of banking services at J.D. Power and Associates, only one-third of cardholders …

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Parents decide whether to rent or buy music instruments for kids

Somewhere in Siddika Jackson’s house, there are two of three trumpets once played by her son, Devin. The saxophone played by his twin brother Dominic in the middle school band is back at the music instrument store.

Both boys are now high school freshmen and neither has a burning interest in playing their instruments. Football and basketball games, for the moment at least, are more appealing.

And while Jackson would like to see her sons continue playing music, she’s glad that she never invested major money in purchasing instruments. At Garrett Middle School in Austell, Devin played a cousin’s used trumpet. Then he played one his mother bought online for $100. When that turned out to be a dud, he switched to a school-provided instrument. For Dominic, Jackson rented a saxophone for three years.

“I turned in the saxophone,” she said. “I refused to pay for something that would have ended up costing me $3,000. I spent a little over $1,000 to rent. Devin has both of those …

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