personal finance Archives

Haggling for Prices, Finding Lost Money

This week I got to read the whole Sunday Tribune. How did I pull that off? I offered to sit in the car at Apple Holler with the napping baby while the others picked apples, aka "paid out the nose for the privilege of collecting their own pesticide-covered fruit."*

Couple interesting pieces about saving money were in there:

Haggling for stuff you didn't know you could haggle for -- big-screen TVs, mattresses, financial advise and rent. (I would add that simply asking for a discount can also work at the grocery store -- a friend recently noticed an employee at Caputos taking a log of speckled organic bananas off the shelf to discard. When my friend asked about buying them, they packaged up a whole lot for him and sold them for something like 30 cents a pound. He was in banana bread city!)

Gregory Karp's column about reclaiming "lost money" lists all the Web sites where you can search unclaimed property.

* OK, my own crankiness about "agritainment" aside, the kids had a wonderful time and worked very hard, and although Apple Holler is not organic, it did rain the day before so at least the apples got a little rinse. Also, the prices of their apple doughnuts and other refreshments aren't that high, and they let us bring in a birthday cake for one of our little friends. The entry fees we paid were $40 for the whole family, which got us 20 pounds of apples, hayride, and the opportunity to play in a cute playground. $2 a pound for apples is certainly not the worst I've ever paid, so although I would have chosen a more bare-bones U-PICK operation if we hand't been out for a birthday party, it was really not a bad deal.



Is It Worth It to Try for a Perfect Credit Score?

Yesterday's Chicago Tribune had a piece about people who are obsessed with attaining the practically unattainable 850 credit score. These people reminded me exactly of the people who are obsessed with collecting frequent flyer miles and airline status, and they're not unlike coupon collectors, either. In short, they're obsessive geeks just like me.

So, should I jump in and strive to perfect my credit score? It had never occurred to me. I thought that as long as your score was on the high end, that you would have access to the best rates of the day, and that only people whose credit is dinged in some way have to worry about it.

But the people in this article talk as if they could get even better rates by scoring over 800. Is this true?

This Business Week article, which is a few years old, says that you'll get the same preferred rate if you score is " if you score between 720 and 850."

Are there any credit score obsessives out there? Is it worth it?

New Credit Card Rules Take Effect Today


You may have heard that the new credit card law, known as the CARD Act, goes into effect today. The new credit card rules are supposed to protect us by preventing sudden, surprise rate hikes. Now the banks have to give us 45 days warning.

But this CNN piece explains that there are a lot of things we will probably have to watch out for under the new law -- like if your rate is pegged to the prime rate, they won't have to warn you when it changes. The piece also predicts that cards are going to be relying more heavily on fees and giving out fewer rewards to make up revenue it might lose due to the new credit card laws.

Gail Marks Jarvis also does some 'splainin' on the fees today.

I had noticed that one or both of my credit cards sent me a notice recently that they were raising my rate. I meant to call and ask them to change it -- they often will, especially if you're a good customer like I am -- but I didn't get around to it. Now I realize that they were pre-emptively raising the rate to get in before the new law.

Oh well, told me I should change to a different, better credit card anyway so I guess this is a good time to take my business elsewhere. But be careful out there, folks. 

Photo by Andres Rueda, used via Creative Commons license.

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