Archive for December, 2010

Tech-savvy shoppers get special deals and attention

The influence on holiday shopping from social media and mobile technology continues to grow and evolve, giving a leg up to tech-savvy shoppers seeking good old-fashioned value.

Tech-smart shoppers are not only finding more ways to improve their bargain-hunting, but attracting some special love from retailers, too.

A few snippets from the last few days:

1) ‘Mobile shoppers want coupons,’ from

“Thirty percent of survey respondents said they expected to use mobile coupons during this holiday season, according to a new study by mobile marketing agency Briabe Media and mobile-social networking company MocoSpace. Interestingly, only 14 percent said they normally use mobile coupons. …

“On the retail front, 62 percent said they planned to use mobile phones as a shopping tool prior to entering a store. And 46 percent stated they would use their phones for store or product research. According to the report, ‘This potentially suggests that for some consumers the mobile …

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Wes Moss: Teach kids how to invest while shopping for perfect gift

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

With Christmas right around the corner many of us are braving traffic, crowds, stress and fatigue to find the perfect gift for our kids – the present they’ll remember for years to come. When you find that special something, you have an opportunity to give a second gift – a lesson on how to invest for their future, namely buy what you own.

It’s a simple but effective strategy. If you are a heavy and/or passionate user of a company’s product, you should consider investing in that company. If you regularly use Crest toothpaste, Oral B toothbrushes, Gillette shaving cream and Mac 3 razors, you are already a fan of Proctor & Gamble (which makes these products) and should consider owning P&G stock.

Similarly, watching your friends and neighbors swarm after particular products should prompt you to examine possible investments in either the …

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Clark Howard: Car deals are plentiful this time of year

ClarkHowardI’ve said again and again that cars are an amazing deal right now. What you can get for your money today is such great value, with both the quality and reliability of the average new vehicle being fantastic.

The holidays are usually a great time to buy a car because everyone else is focused on, well, the holidays. For most of us, our holiday budgets are tapped out and our wallets are exhausted. We’re not looking to buy a vehicle at this time of year. That’s what makes the discounts available right now so very good.

Plus, the car-selling business is hyper-competitive. Look at Toyota and how the marketplace ate them alive after the debacle with sudden acceleration and the ensuing cover-up.

That’s prompted Toyota to kick up their rebates by 50 percent, according to Honda, meanwhile, is offering rebates that are now double what they were last year. Both automakers have a big supply of unsold vehicles and will be offering deals for the next four or so weeks. Look for …

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Credit cards’ extras can help your holiday shopping

It’s the debt-free way of living. Never use credit cards, always use cash and avoid getting sucked into those rewards programs, right?

You’re half-right. If you’re in debt, it’s wise to stay away from credit cards. But if you pay off your cards each month, using them for holiday shopping could have huge benefits.

Check your cards to see what bonuses you might be ignoring, but here are the main benefits.

Product protection: Credit cards will usually let you return items the manufacturer won’t and can include travel insurance of up to $2,000 a year if you have to cancel airline tickets.

“More and more people are shopping online these days with credit cards,” said John McCosh of CredAbility, an Atlanta-based nonprofit credit counseling service. “And a credit card protects you if the delivery is wrong.”

Card protection: If a card is lost or stolen, many issuers will cover part, if not all, of any fraudulent charges. But if you lose a lot of cash, it’s gone.

Extended warranties:

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Update: Half-price BMW deal

American Express is offering its customers an unbelievable deal via their Daily Wish promotion this Thursday. After logging into the Daily Wish site, cardholders are offered different discounted gifts each day including restaurant gift cards, cameras, laptops … and a half-price 2011 BMW 328i.

BMW 328iYes, it’s true. But I suspect with the number of people clicking on the BMW deal once it goes live, it will resemble the Kindle deal debacle from last month.

(UPDATE: If you go to the previous sentence’s BMW deal link, you’ll see the 328i’s half-off cost comes to $17,263. That’s still relatively pricey for many in our current economy, but also tempting for folks who can afford and want to buy a BMW. And, as a reader points out, you’ll first want to read the fine print, including the fact only two models will be available in this national promotion from AmEx.)

Today’s Daily Wish bargains include a Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet PC (Verizon-enabled) and $50 back when you spend $100 or …

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Travel: 40% off skiing | sneaky airline fees | 56% off cabin rental

Is the department store music this season making you crazy yet? If you’re trying to escape, here are some deals and tips for holiday travel.

40% off ski packages

Did the light dusting of snow this weekend wet your appetite? Orbitz is currently advertising up to 40% off ski packages if you book your trip by Jan. 31. Destinations include Aspen, Co., Breckenridge, Co. and tons more. As is usual with these types of deals, the more you combine (hotel, airfare, extras), the more you will actually save through the package.

Avoiding airline convenience fees

So you’re booking the ski package, right? You might want to read this story on avoiding the extra cash airlines charge these days:

Airlines say the extra fees keep overall ticket prices low, allowing passengers to only pay for the services they want. But some of these fees pop up at the end of a transaction or while a passenger is checking in luggage, making it feel less like a “menu of services” and more like a mob-style …

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Wes Moss: Perfect holiday gift for your nest egg

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

One of the biggest challenges investors face is cost. As I recently explained in The Seven Layer Dip of Fees, there is nothing more detrimental to your long-term rate of return than high-cost investment vehicles – except maybe emotional and excessive trading.

Most mutual fund investors and variable annuity owners face annual costs between 1% and 3% – sometimes more. In a stock market that historically has barely averaged a return of 9%, paying 3% in fees every year eats away over one third of your return – and that’s before taxes.

So, as a holiday gift, allow me to introduce you to the DRIP account, one of the best, low-to-no cost ways to buy individual stocks. DRIP stands for Dividend Reinvestment Plan. Unlike a mutual fund or ETF (exchange traded fund), individual stocks have no internal management fee, but typically require a …

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Free shipping day deals this week

If you’ve been paying attention this month, then you already know multiple retailers — Walmart, Amazon, Target and others — are offering free holiday shipping deals, sometimes with a minimum purchase.

But for other stores, your best bet is free shipping day on Friday. More than 60 percent of the vendors listed on Free Shipping Day will offer free shipping and handling on all orders and assure delivery by Dec. 24. (The website is also equipped with a countdown, for those of us who get excited about that sort of thing.)

Participating stores include:

  • Sears
  • Macy’s
  • Ann Taylor
  • Nine West
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Apple Store
  • Brookstone
  • The Sharper Image
  • JCPenney
  • Babies R Us
  • GameStop
  • Kate Spade
  • Discovery Store
  • Zales
  • DSW

Now you can tell people you’re not procrastinating about buying gifts; you’re just waiting for the best deal.

– By Lauren Davidson, Atlanta Bargain Hunter

See a great deal I should know about? Email me at You can also follow me on 

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55% off skydiving |Half-off house cleaning |56% off swing dancing

Still looking for a gift for that hard-to-shop-for family member or friend? Try one of these creative options.

55% off skydiving

Give someone the gift of a tandem jump with an instructor at Skydive The Farm. Considered one of the best drop zones internationally, this Rockmart outfit offers a 360-degree virtual tour of its drop and also has a training program if you catch the thrill bug and want to become a licensed skydiver. Consider buying two packages and share the experience with a friend. Available through Half Off Depot for $99.

Half-off house cleaning

Tell a relative to clean up his or her act with a house cleaning certificate from Time Used Wisely. $40 buys you 2 hours of service, which is good for most two-to-three bedroom homes. Your busy gift recipients will appreciate this gesture to make their lives a little easier, and green geeks will love the environmentally friendly products this company uses. Available through Groupon.

56% off swing dancing

Preparing for an …

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Electronics deals are still out there

Can you still find good deals on electronics now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over?

Jim Barry thinks so.

Barry, who is the Digital Answer Man with the Consumer Electronics Association, has witnessed the electronics landscape change drastically during the past 20 years. And he has positive news for Americans, who will spend $175 billion on electronics in the U.S. this year.

“The good thing about electronics is you’re always going to get a good deal,” he said. “There’s never been a better time to buy a TV.”

Barry points out TVs selling for $5,000 a few years ago are now available for $600 to $700.

“You’re always going to get a better deal than the guy who bought it last year,” he says.

Two major factors contribute to the ever-dropping prices of electronics: the pace of change and volume efficiencies. First, yesterday’s technology is today’s bargain, and stock has to be cleared to make room for tomorrow’s toys. Second, there’s a global oversupply of flat panel TVs, …

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