Archive for September, 2010

Clark Howard “ecstatic” Southwest buying AirTran

Clark Howard is on cloud nine since learning that Southwest Airlines is buying AirTran.

Howard, a consumer advocate and host of his own radio program on AM 750 and now 95.5FM News/Talk WSB says that Southwest’s move into Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is a huge bonus for local passengers.

“I am just ecstatic,” Howard said. “It’s like my birthday and my wedding day, the whole thing at once. This is really big. Southwest is the most important player in the airline industry and Atlanta is the biggest airport operation in the country. It’s been so weird that Southwest flies to LaGuardia, but not Atlanta.”

Why all the excitement?

Southwest, which flew only as close to Atlanta as Birmingham, will give travelers more choices to fly at lower fares. In markets where both airlines have existed — Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville, Fla., for instance — fares are considerably lower than they are where only of the airlines has a foothold.

“The difference in fares is just …

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Back to basics: Prioritize your savings

Wes_Moss-for-Web-smaller-fiCertified financial planner Wes Moss provides personal finance advice and accessible investment strategies. His guest blog will appear here every Monday.

Back to Basics: Prioritize your savings

Every working American has at least two jobs these days.  In addition to working for a paycheck, you and I need to work equally hard to save for retirement.  That’s because the responsibility of funding your golden years has shifted from big business to the individual. While my grandfather’s generation was able to rely on their employers and/or government to fully support their retirement through pensions and social security, today’s worker is largely on his own.

As we’ve discussed, saving a minimum 15% of your net income is crucial to financial security and a secure retirement.  That may seem like an impossible goal given all your other obligations – the mortgage, taxes, kid-related costs.  But I’ve seen people at all income levels reach this critical level of savings.  How?  By …

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Free and cheap cultural events: Korean Festival | Woodruff’s ‘Nights on the Piazza’ | ASO Party and Concert

2nd Annual Korean Festival

The Second Annual Korean Festival will be held Sept. 26-26 at Suwanee Town Center Park. Expect no less than a great time as the festival celebrates the traditional Korean Thanksgiving holiday, “Choosuk.” Best of all: It’s FREE. There will be 12 performances including dance, martial arts, traditional Korean music, food and much more. The event is from noon-6 p.m. both days.

$10 off tickets at Whole World Improv

I’m not quite ready to celebrate the end of summer. Why? Because that means cold weather isn’t far behind. At Whole World Improv, they are moving forward with this end of summer deal. Tickets are $10 off when you purchase at least two tickets to either Friday’s 9 p.m. show or Saturday’s two performances at 8 p.m. or 10:30 p.m. The tickets must be purchased online before 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25. On the appropriate screen, use promo code FALL.

Woodruff Arts Centre’s ‘Nights on the Piazza’

The Woodruff Arts Centre has brought back Nights on …

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Eat like a champ: 5 great Atlanta area restaurant deals

Get $15 in coupons from T.G.I. Friday’s

The Share Our Strength campaign, focused on eliminating childhood hunger, is in full gear right now. Want to help? From now through Sept. 28, if you donate $5 to the campaign when dining at participating T.G.I. Friday’s restaurants, you’ll get $15 in coupons to be used during future visits to the restaurant.

Save 80% on Restaurant.com gift certificate + Get free $10 gift certificate

Using promo code AUTUMN, Restaurant.com gift certificates are 80 percent off right now. That makes the $25 gift certificates only $2. There’s also a bonus gift. For a limited time, get a free $10 Restaurant.com gift certificate with every order.

50% off Googie Burger

How do you think they came up with the name, Googie Burger? I have no idea. I’m just glad they came up with this 50 percent off deal through MyDailyThread.com. Get half-off your burger when you buy a $10 voucher valued at $20. Also, as a bonus, everyone who buys this deal also gets a free ice …

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Save now for this year’s hottest holiday toys

It’s hard to even think about holiday gift spending right now. After all, Halloween isn’t even here yet.

That didn’t stop Toys ‘R’ Us from coming out with the list of this year’s hottest toys. These are the toys your kids will beg you for, even if they don’t know it yet.

Sing-a-ma-jigs from Mattel Inc. made the Toys 'R' Us hot toys list for 2010

Sing-a-ma-jigs from Mattel Inc. made the Toys 'R' Us hot toys list for 2010

Here are just a few: Click here to see a photo gallery of the toys.

– Minotaurus by Lego Systems Inc. A board game from Lego. $26.99.

— Monster High Cleo DeNile and Deuce Gorgon doll set by Mattel: Dolls from Mattel’s Monster High line. $39.99.

— Nerf N-Strike Stampede ECS by Hasbro: Nerf blaster that can shoot Nerf darts up to 25 feet. $54.99.

— Pillow Pets by Ontel Products Corp.: Plus stuffed animals that convert into a pillow by opening a Velcro strap. $19.99.

Rather than getting stressed, it might be wise to get busy preparing. Starting a reasonable holiday fund now will go a long way. Sure, there will be Black Friday holiday …

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BOGO Six Flags Fright Fest | Zoo Atlanta discounts | Free museum admission | Georgia Aquarium free for kids

Zoo Atlanta discount for National Hispanic Heritage Month

September is National Hispanic Heritage Month and Zoo Atlanta has discounted tickets. Fiesta de la Familia is Sunday, Sept. 26, from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Live entertainment, special activities and Spanish-translated keeper talks are among the highlights. Tickets are discounted to $15 for adults and $10 for children. The discount cannot can be combined with any other offers or discounts. Remember that Fulton County residents can also get free zoo passes from the public library.

Free museum admissions, Free Georgia Aquarium admission, Free state parks admission: A couple of weeks ago, I alerted you to several free activities taking place this weekend. Here’s a reminder…

Ahoy, mates! I just love the way that sounds. I like the sound of this deal, too — kids 12 and under will be admitted free at the Georgia Aquarium Sept. 24-Sept. 26 if they come dressed in their favorite pirate costumes. It’s in honor of Talk Like A Pirate Day, …

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Average Atlanta credit balances lowest since 2002, but delinquencies climb

The average credit card debt carried by metro Atlantans is down nearly 13 percent  since the recession began. At $5,946, the average balance is its lowest since the second quarter of 2002 according to credit reporting agency, TransUnion.

If you raised a brow, it’s understandable.

Behind the pretty numbers is a rather ugly reality, says CardHub.com chief executive officer Odysseas Papadimitriou. Nationally, charge-offs — accounts that are ordinarily 180 days delinquent and have been erased — have grown. While credit card debt decreased $12 billion in the second quarter compared to the previous quarter, banks charged off $21.8 billion over the same period, according to the Federal Reserve. That means consumers actually accumulated $9.8 billion in debt.

“It’s trending the wrong way,” Papadimitriou said. “The alarming thing is that it’s 250 percent higher than the same quarter last year. Consumers are going to end the year with $26 billion more in debt than 2009. The …

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Finders Keepers bagsale | Atlanta Hawks pre-sale offer | $20 “Dreamgirls” tickets | Dave Ramsey discount

Special Atlanta Hawks pre-sale offer

When LeBron James and company come to town to face the Atlanta Hawks, tickets will be in high demand — and probably expensive. If you want to get a jump on available tickets, consider the pres-sale tickets available through Travelzoo.com. The prices aren’t necessarily discounted, but for key games like the ones against the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers, they are at least available. They must be purchased by 11:59 p.m., Thursday. The tickets to select games starting at $11 are available for these dates:

  • Thursday, Oct. 21, vs. the Miami Heat
  • Sunday, Nov. 7, vs. the Phoenix Suns
  • Friday, Nov. 12, vs. the Utah Jazz
  • Friday, Jan. 28, vs. the New York Knicks
  • Tuesday, March 8, vs. the L.A. Lakers
  • Monday, April 11, vs. the Miami Heat

Finders Keepers semi-annual bagsale

As the weather cools, it’s a great time to think about summer clothes. Seriously. Finders Keepers is holding its semi-annual bagsale on Saturday from 9 a.m.-11 am.  in …

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Solving the small business owner’s retirement dilemma

Personal financial adviser Martina A. Jimenez

Personal financial adviser Martina A. Jimenez

Financial adviser Martina A. Jimenez of Eagle Strategies LLC is among a group of personal finance professionals contributing each Wednesday to the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog. They are on hand to answer any of your questions about saving, budgeting, investing and more. If you have a question for a locally-based expert, email your question and name to rcash@ajc.com.

This week Jimenez shares 6 steps a small business owner facing retirement might take.

There’s a fatal flaw in the retirement of many small business owners: After pouring a lifetime of sweat, time, and capital into building the business, their rough-sketch strategy is to sell out someday for a ton of money… then settle back and enjoy a financially secure retirement.  Many business owners are so sure this will happen that they don’t bother to make any other retirement plans.

Who is this person who, at just the right moment, is going to show up with cash in hand to buy …

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Flood insurance spared one family twice the pain

Norman and Janet Taylor of Austell had flood insurance the second time their home was flooded.

Norman and Janet Taylor of Austell had flood insurance the second time their home was flooded. Photo credit: Rana L. Cash, AJC

The flood that drowned homes and hopes last September washed away nearly everything Norman and Janet Taylor had.

It wasn’t the first time their 15-acre tract in south Cobb County had seen high waters. In 2005, Hurricane Dennis brought a deluge that swamped the house built by Janet’s father. But this time, the Taylors met the damage head-on with a flood insurance policy.

The policy wiped away two heavy debts — their remaining mortgage, as well as a second loan taken out to rebuild in 2005 — and allowed them to construct a striking 2,200-square-foot home with a wraparound porch on significantly higher ground.

“I will never forget dredging through that smelly snake, ant, bacterial, bug-infested water trying to salvage stuff after the first flood,” Janet Taylor said. “The second time, I knew it was going to be devastating and emotionally draining, but I …

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