Archive for July, 2011

Free Smashburger side items for school employees

We really owe our teachers much more than they’ll ever receive salary-wise.

That’s one of the reasons new restaurant Smashburger is honoring school employees with a delicious deal during the last week of summer break.

If you’re a school employee who brings in your employee badge, ID card or pay stub, you’ll receive a free side item with any burger, chicken sandwich, salad or hot dog today through Friday. Smashburger sides include Smashfries, french fries, sweet potato Smashfries, haystack onions, fried pickles, veggie frites, beefy chili, chili cheese fries and a small wedge salad.

This offer is limited to one per person. Smashburger is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. 2625 Piedmont Road NE. 404-237-2374.

– By Lauren Davidson, Atlanta Bargain Hunter

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Wes Moss: Brush up on the ABCs of money

Certified financial planner Wes Moss provides personal finance advice and accessible investment strategies. His guest post appears here Monday mornings.

Wes-Moss-032011-USE-THIS-VERSIONEconomics and financial planning are all about numbers –- budget figures, interest rates, savings goals. But there are some pretty important letters involved as well, most of which represent… numbers. Here’s a quick primer on the ABCs of money.

GDP stands for Gross Domestic Product, which is the total value of all the goods and services produced annually by a country’s economy. The U.S. GDP is currently around $15 trillion. Ideally, we’d like to see that figure grow at a rate of about 2 percent to 3 percent per year, after inflation.

CPI is the Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation. CPI is a very important number to investors and retirees. Social Security payments, pension benefits and some investments — including I Bonds and TIPS — are tied to inflation as measured by CPI. The Federal Reserve wants to keep …

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Is that graduate degree worth the money?

During the last three years, a wave of my colleagues rushed back to school — a few pursued a different undergraduate diploma while most sought out master’s degrees.

But one friend did the math for an MBA program that runs $42,000 a year, realizing there was no guarantee he’d both recoup that money plus the hit he’d take from starting over in a new field. Another guy I know went through med school only to realize later he wanted to be a teacher. He’ll be paying off his loans for the rest of his life.

This begs the question, which graduate degrees give you the best ROI? Most grad or professional degrees cost substantially more than undergraduate programs, so the risk is higher, but the payout could be tremendous.

This article from Kiplinger looks at a few specific degrees and their status in the market right now:

New hires of law-firm associates, which plummeted 40 percent in 2009 from the previous year, are creeping back up. More than 87 percent of law students who …

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Jessica Shops: Gifts for college-bound students

Get grads in gear

Presents for college students: If you know a student starting college in the fall, grab these great deals going on now and save. Give the gift of capturing memories with a GE A1455 digital camera for $59.99 (retail $79.99, Kmart.com). For displaying pics and ensuring on-time class arrival, snag a Coby 3.5-inch digital photo frame with alarm clock from $26.44 and up (retail $39.99, Sears.com via the “Shop Marketplace” option). To capture even more memories in motion, shoot for a Samsung Q10 HD digital camcorder for $199.99 (retail $299.99, Kmart.com). Writing home to share photos and videos will be easy with the ePad Google Android 10-inch Tablet at $193.99 (retail $399, Sears.com). Finally, no college experience is complete without plenty of movie nights with an RCA 32-inch HDTV/DVD combo for $349.99 (above; retail $399.99, Sears.com).

Summer savings

Boden: Find finely tailored chambray dresses, men’s cotton trousers or slouchy leather boots in fun colors for …

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Coupon Mom: Cheap snacks, gas gift cards

Pennies for potato chips

Pop Secret, Pringles, Kettle Brand: Stock up on snacks for the kids this summer at Kroger. Pop Secret microwave popcorn (three-count bags) is on sale for $1.35. It is included in the Mega Event promotion, so your cost will be 85 cents if you buy 10 items. Use the June 19 RedPlum coupon for 50 cents off two boxes, which Kroger will double, so your final cost will be 35 cents per box. Or get single cans of Pringles snacks (5.7-6.7 ounces) on sale for $1.35, or 85 cents after the Mega Event savings. Use the $1-off-three coupon from the June 26 RedPlum circular to pay 52 cents per package. Kettle Brand Potato Chips (9-ounce bags) are on sale for $2.49, or $1.99 after Mega Event savings. Use the June 19 RedPlum coupon for $1 off one bag to pay only 99 cents each.

Keep saving with fuel deal

Free gas promotion: Get a $10 gas gift card when you purchase $30 of participating items at CVS (items change every week). This week’s free gas promotion items include …

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Clark Howard: Enjoy more options for budget traveling

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

There’s a significant change in how you save money on travel and I want to make sure you’re in on the savings.

Hotels are especially in transition with how and where they make their deals available. Cheapos like me have traditionally used Priceline and Hotwire for the blind booking of accommodations. But now that both those sites have reached critical mass in the marketplace, everyone’s looking for the differentiator.

That’s led more websites to experiment with what are now being called “flash sales” or “mystery sales.”

An example of a mystery sale site is one I’ve talked about previously called QuikBook.com.

QuikBook started principally to offer small businesses and individuals access to corporate-type rates on hotel bookings. It’s a big player in a handful of markets, including New York, Chicago, San Francisco, …

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Will Borders’ liquidation offer real deals?

There’s only one word that excites bargain hunters more than the word “clearance.”

“Liquidation.”

So please forgive me if the announcement of Borders going out of business set my heart a-pitter patter. That is, until I read this article from DealNews on Borders’ previous sale patterns.

From the story:

The news was probably not surprising, since Borders filed for bankruptcy in February and swiftly closed approximately 30 percent of its stores. Liquidation sales soon followed, and initially, they took 20 percent to 40 percent off, according to NewsObserver.com. While obviously nothing heart stopping, the discounts still motivated consumers to clear Borders inventory.

However, in the time since Borders declared bankruptcy, dealnews has listed 22 coupons for discounts ranging from 30 percent to 50 percent off. You heard that right: Everyday Borders coupons offered better savings than the merchant’s initial store-closing sales.

Does this mean you should skip the liquidation sale? …

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Free queso at Moe’s today

It’s the cheesiest deal this week.

Today Moe’s Southwest Grill is offering a free six ounce cup of queso to each guest from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. at participating locations; no strings attached.

Really really like Moe’s queso? You can also win $10,000 by entering the Dance Your Queso Off contest and creating a dance video any time before Sunday. Moe’s panel of judges will consider originality, video quality, dance moves and the dance-off ranking.

– By Lauren Davidson, Atlanta Bargain Hunter

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50 percent off Pike Nurseries

Are your fingers itching to do some fall gardening?

Save big at Pike Nurseries with Tremendous Tuesday Savings. When you register for Pike Nurseries’ Play in the Dirt rewards program, you’ll get an email every week for 50 percent off one item each Tuesday. The items vary — think bags of mulch or garden hoses. The program is free, and you can sign up in-store or online. Check the website for directions to one of the 15 metro-Atlanta stores near you.

– By Lauren Davidson, Atlanta Bargain Hunter

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The best things to buy right now

Anyone who knows his way around a clearance rack knows the best time to buy shorts is in December. And that heavy sweaters can cost you a mere $9 in June. In fact, many of us prey on that seasonal rotation to purchase our wardrobes at rock-bottom prices.

But it goes beyond apparel, and beyond our traditional grasp of seasonality. Many retailers have their own timetable for moving merchandise, either to make room for more goods or for other reasons. Sometimes previous sales have even conditioned consumers to expect discounts at certain times of the year. And the introduction of group-buying sites into the market has made sale cycles even more unpredictable.

So what are some of the best –- and worst — things to buy right now? Let’s take a look:

TVs: It might be tempting to buy one this month — in June, 55-inch LED LCD HDTVs were as low as $1,048, reports DealNews.com –- but prices on electronics typically trend downward as newer technology emerges. You’ll still get the lowest …

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