Archive for December, 2010

Clark Howard: Save big buying glasses online

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

clarkhowardThe December issue of Consumer Reports has taken a close look at eyeglasses retailers, and one of my favorite stores has topped the list of best places to buy a pair of spectacles.

For the first time, Costco Wholesale has been identified as the No. 1 place to buy glasses. According to Consumer Reports, Costco’s average price for a complete pair of eyeglasses is $157, while the industry retail average is $200. (In prior years’ surveys, Costco was in second place behind independent local eyeglass shops. Now the indies are taking a backseat to Costco!)

A number of the big chains got horrible scores in the December tally. J.C. Penney Optical and America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses both tied for last place.
For my money, I’ve bought cheap prescription eyeglasses from mainland China from a company called ZenniOptical.com

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The Bargain Hunter is on vacation

The Atlanta Bargain Hunter is on vacation and will return in the new year. Happy deal hunting!

– By Lauren Davidson, Atlanta Bargain Hunter

See a great deal I should know about? Email me at ldavidson@ajc.com. You can also follow me on Facebook or on Twitter @atlbargains.

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Celebrate the new year for less than $50

If your wallet has taken a hit and there’s not a year-end bonus in sight, squeezing in a New Year’s Eve party might seem like a challenge. But you don’t have to give up your social life just because you’re pinching pennies.

Here’s how to throw a New Year’s Eve bash for less than $50, party animals not included.

Outsource the food

Consider a potluck. Your culinary-minded friends will jump at the chance to share their favorite dishes.

“You just have to let your friends know: I want to host a party, but I’m on a budget and I can’t afford to feed all of you,” said Kym Perkins of Kennesaw. Perkins e-mailed guests an invitation in the form of a poem to bring a dish and a bottle of wine to share at her New Year’s Eve party last year.

“When you ask in a way that’s cute or trying to establish a theme, then you do it in a way that’s fun for everybody,” Perkins said. “That’s what we did. And everybody loved it.”

Cost: $0-$15 for host’s food and drink.

Don’t splurge on decor

Consider …

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Wes Moss: 4 time-tested financial tips from 2010

Wes_Moss-for-Web-smaller-fiCertified financial planner Wes Moss provides personal finance advice and accessible investment strategies. His guest post appears here weekly.

The end of the year is a natural time for reflection, to look back at the past 12 months and assess our performance and progress in every aspect of life. I spend a great deal of time trying to figure out what financial strategies were most effective in helping our clients move toward their financial goals.

Guess what? I come up with many of the same answers every December! And that’s a good thing. It shows that a commitment to the fundamentals of personal investing will serve you well, regardless of the economic weather. Here are four of those perennial truths:

1. You Gotta Believe. Because retirement seems so far away and/or unattainable, some people write it off as an impossible dream or simply choose to ignore it. They don’t plan for it. They don’t save for it. They don’t invest for it. Big mistake. As Henry Ford said, …

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And the winning eReader is…

The Kindle is now the best-selling product in Amazon history, eclipsing the previous leader “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” (book 7), according to the seller’s web site.

“We’re seeing that many of the people who are buying Kindles also own an LCD tablet. Customers report using their LCD tablets for games, movies, and web browsing and their Kindles for reading sessions,” [Amazon founder and CEO Jeff] Bezos said.

Read the full article.

Did anyone get a Kindle over the holiday? If you bought an eReader besides the Kindle, what were the features that drew you away from the mega-product? How many of you have a separate tablet in addition to an eReader?

– By Lauren Davidson, Atlanta Bargain Hunter

See a great deal I should know about? Email me at ldavidson@ajc.com. You can also follow me on Facebook or on Twitter @atlbargains.

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Day-after-Christmas deals and sales

Forget Black Friday. The biggest shopping day of the year for me has always been the day after Christmas.

Dec. 26 is the day my frugal family stocks up on everything from blenders to clothes to gifts for next year. My father (who has purchased any electronics prior to Christmas and is done shopping for the year) stays at home while my mother, sister and I load up at 6 a.m., coffee cups in hand, and head to the outlet malls.

We’re willing to drive more than an hour to our destination that day both because of the bargains we find but also because it’s quality time we spend together. It’s a tradition for us. Sleepily yakking in the car on the way up (sometimes with ice lining the rock walls on the side of the interstate), racing through clearance racks and emerging from the stores as champions, with a $10 cashmere sweater or a $25 pair of boots. It may sound ridiculous that we bond over such an experience, but we love sharing the deals we find with each other.

On a less …

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Last-minute shopping deals

More than half of you (56 percent) completed your Christmas shopping prior to this week, but almost 20 percent of you haven’t even started yet, according to a Consumer Reports holiday shopping poll. That means many of you will be out this week, with 1 in 10 people hitting the stores Christmas Eve.

For those waiting until the last minute to complete your holiday shopping list, here’s some info on what’s open when.

ToysRUs (open until 9 or 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve, depending on location): Some of the current sale prices may not be valid through Friday, but you can sign up for their mobile alerts to get Deals of the Day sent to your phone through Christmas.

Walmart (many will stay open until 8 p.m., but call your local store): Sales include a $225 8GB iPod touch with a bonus $50 iTunes gift card and a Toshiba Satellite 15.6″ Dual Core Laptop for $398.

Target (most open until 7 p.m., depending on location): Sales include a free $40 Target gift card with purchase of an 8GB iPod …

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Purchase tickets for these cheap events now

50% off a night of drama

Score half-price tickets to Kenny Leon’s Broke-ology: The science of being broke. In this comic drama, a family learns how to balance sacrifice and love each other as they deal with their ailing father. The show runs Jan. 25 through Feb. 20 at the Southwest Arts Center — 915 New Hope Road, Atlanta. Use promotional code EARLYHALF by Dec. 29 to get 50% off your purchase for Jan. 25-28 or Feb. 2-4 shows.

43% off some good laughs

Get in some laughs with John Heffron, the Season 2 winner of NBC’s reality series Last Comic Standing. Heffron will perform at the Punchline Comedy Club Jan. 6 to Jan. 9. Tickets are on sale through Goldstar.com for $15.05 – 17.88, discounted from $25.75 – $31.25. 280 Hilderbrand Drive, Atlanta.

72% off discovering your surrealist side

If you haven’t seen The High Museum’s Salvador Dalí exhibit yet, now’s the cheapest and last time. “Dalí ’til Dawn,” a 31-hour final weekend celebration for “Dalí,” will run Saturday, Jan. 8 at 10 …

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Atlanta deals roundup

If you’re looking for a quick lunch, a cheap night out or still scouring for Christmas presents, here are some deals to get you going.

Food

  • Chick-fil-A is offering a free taste test of its new spicy chicken biscuit Jan.3-8, 2011 to customers who make a reservation next week. To sign up, visit www.GetSpicyChicken.com on Monday and log your preferred Chick-fil-A restaurant location and time. If you don’t take advantage of the free tasting, you can wait until the biscuit is added to the menu for the general public on Jan. 10, 2011.
  • Burger King’s offering customers two original chicken sandwiches for the price of one now through Jan. 16. The average price of the sandwich at company restaurants is $3.79.
  • Baldinos Giant Jersey Subs has been giving away free subs and beverages on Christmas Eve day since arriving in Atlanta in 1991. This has become an Atlanta tradition for the past 19 years and can provide sustenance for those of you doing last-minute Christmas shopping in the …

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Cheap fun now that your shopping is done

For those of us done with our holiday shopping, this week is on cruise control — a few days of enjoying seasonal music, savoring a cup of Christmas cheer and sampling smells of cinnamon and pine in the air.

But there’s one more expense you may not have put much thought into this month: entertaining kids out of school for the holidays and playing host to visiting friends or relatives.

Whether you have a whole houseful or just a cozy couple, here are some ideas for spending quality time while spending hardly any money:

Get some exercise. Go hiking on one of the beautiful trails around metro Atlanta. For an all-day hike, pack sandwiches and apples for a lunchtime stop. Try Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park for a dash of Civil War history or Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawsonville for scenery.

Sightsee. Take in the lights in a well-decorated neighborhood. If “looking” isn’t enough for children in your car, turn it into a game. Collectively choose the top five houses …

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