Personal Finance

Check out Woot, it’s a hoot! a new deal everyday

Posted on September 17, 2008. Filed under: Bargain Shopping, Entertainment, Personal Finance | Tags: , , | is an online store and community that focuses on selling cool stuff cheap. It started as an employee-store slash market-testing type of place for an electronics distributor. They sell one item per day until it is sold out or until 11:59pm central time when it is replaced.  However, each item they sell is in stock and typically ships within 2-3 business days.

There are lots of good deals on electronics. There is also a wine woot and a shirt woot. The descriptions are detailed and written by some witty, intelligent folks.  Sometimes I wonder if they hired the guys from the movie Clerks to write their web copy.  There is also a product discussion forum.

When the “I Want One” button is bouncing around, that means they’re in Urgent Mode. Act fast – a sellout is approaching! Once an item is sold out, that’s it. Tomorrow is another day, another deal.
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LA Times article on budget weddings: With this savings, I thee wed

Posted on September 16, 2008. Filed under: Business, Personal Finance | Tags: , , |

With these savings, I thee wed


By Andrea Chang
Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — A typical bride-to-be, Katrina Macrae has bought a dress, browsed varieties of flowers and settled on a date and location for her April nuptials.

But her bridal gown is actually an ivory-colored prom dress that she picked up for $160. The flowers will be bought wholesale the day before the wedding. And she’s getting married to her fiance, Scott Smith, on a Sunday, when location fees are usually cheaper.

At a time when the average wedding costs about $30,000, Macrae plans to spend $8,000.

“Planning a big expensive wedding was kind of an unnecessary expense,” said Macrae, 26, a quality analyst for Sony Pictures. “We didn’t want to be exorbitant, and definitely the economic crunch makes us feel that more strongly.”

To read the reswt of this article, click here

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Three Options for FREE Directory Assistance: FREE 411, GOOG 411, FreeMobile411

Posted on August 31, 2008. Filed under: Business, Career & Work, Personal Finance, Travel & Leisure, Uncategorized | Tags: , |

For those of you who are on the road, and on their cell phone, all the time, here is some great info.  Fees for directory assistance calls (including ones made from cellphones), are on the increase. On Feb. 1, Sprint increased its 411 fee from $1.49 to $1.79. Last fall, Verizon and Cingular boosted fees to $1.49 and $1.79, respectively.  Last month, I had to find a phone number to call a distant relative in another state. So silly me, when I couldn’t find it on the web, I called state area code-555-1212 for directory assistance from my land line.  When I got my AT&T phone bill, I was unpleasantly surprised to find I was charged $1.75.  The last time I had done that, it wasn’t more than 50 cents.  Bad BudgetMaven.

What I should have done and will do from now on when I need directory assistance from home or cell, without incurring any charges, is dial one of these:

1-800-FREE-411 which is also 1 (800) 373-3411
Thanks to a newly expanded service called 1-800-FREE-411, you can request the digits of individuals and businesses without paying a fee at all.  The start-up has been around since September 2005, but was propelled into the spotlight late last year after garnering $30 million in venture capital. The trade-off is minor: to keep the service free, you’ll listen to a short sponsor ad (on average 12 seconds) from a local business before your request is completed.

800-GOOG-411 which is also 1 (800) 466-4411

Google’s directory assistance 800-GOOG-411 is offered to the public free of charge and does not contain advertising

Users that call 1-800-466-4411 are told that the call is being recorded to improve results, and then asked to say the city and state of the sought business. Users may then search for the business by name or category, which generates a list of businesses matching the search. Users may then select a business on the list by saying “number” followed the number that corresponds to the business, or press the desired number on their phone. Once a business is selected, Google automatically connects the user to the business or sends an SMS/text message with the phone number. Alternatively, users can listen to the address and phone number by saying “details”.  U.S. users may narrow search results by zip code or street intersection.

Search can also be invoked by using the phone keys if the system misses the spoken query multiple times. This works in a similar manner to predictive text input on a cellular phone.

You can view a short video of how to here:

FreeMobile411 (available at both and

FreeMobile411™ by V-ENABLE gives fast and easy access to millions of US business (restaurants, shops, banks etc) and residential listings, detailed maps, nearby points of interests, driving directions and much more.

The downloadable version of FreeMobile411™ is a very easy to use VOICE-ENABLED search application. After downloading FreeMobile411™, just open the application on your mobile phone, PRESS and HOLD the “talk” key and say the “City and State” you need. Next, select either “Search by Business Name”, “Business Type” or “Person”. PRESS and HOLD the “talk” key and say either the business listing you are looking for (“Joe’s Pizza”), a business category (“Pizza”) or a Person (“John Smith”). Within a few seconds, the phone number, address, map, directions, nearby places and other great features will be displayed on you phone. You also have the option to make a search by typing in your request if you are in a very loud or quiet environment.

Where the product differs from others today, such as 1-800-Free-411 and Google’s Goog-411 is that FreeMobile411™ also allows you to type in the information you need and connect to a live operator if needed.  Using real people to assist with free 411 calls seems like a step back into the past, but it’s a point of differentiation that will appeal to some people, especially when automation fails.

To obtain FreeMobile411™, please fill in the information needed in the “Get Started” page of their site or click here.  You can also access FreeMobile411™ in your phone’s browser by typing

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Slow down – save cash on gas by driving the speed limit

Posted on July 15, 2008. Filed under: Personal Finance, Travel & Leisure, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

According to an article in the San Jose Mercury News yesterday:

Drive 60 instead of 75 and it’s like shaving prices at the pump by 30 to 35 cents a gallon.

If you drive 12,000 miles a year in a Taurus or Camry that gets 25 mpg, driving 60 instead of 70 results in an annual saving of $250; for pickups, $470; for SUVs, $750.

“I think telling people how much gas is saved at lower speeds would do more to slow people down than a new speed limit,” said traffic reporter Joe McConnell. “You have to somehow make it cool to slow down in the same way it’s cool now to be green.”

Read the full article from the Merc.

Maybe they can develop some Public Service Accouncements to help make it cool to slow down by licensing and changing the lyrics to Sammy Hagar’s biggest classic rock solo hit to “I CAN drive 55″ (or even 65). — BudgetMaven

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Study finds women don’t save enough for retirement

Posted on July 12, 2008. Filed under: Business, Career & Work, Personal Finance, Retirement, Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Another reason to learn how to live well on a budget…

Study finds women don’t save enough for retirement
By Candice Choi
Associated Press
Article Launched: 07/09/2008 01:37:04 AM PDT

NEW YORK – Women may not earn as much as men or fly up the corporate ladder as quickly, but they get the last laugh since they live longer. Right?

As it turns out, women probably aren’t saving enough to bankroll those extra years in style. They invest more conservatively, start saving later and are more likely to be in and out of the work force, according to a study released today by Hewitt Associates, a human resources consulting firm.

Suddenly, retirement isn’t looking so rosy.

Women live an average of 22 years after retirement compared to 19 years for men, and medical costs are rising, so women will need to save 2 percent more than men every year over 30 years to maintain their standard of living upon retirement, the study found.

The importance of saving didn’t dawn on Jerre Laughlin until she was in her 40s and started working in human resources.

“I was looking at pensions all day and was seeing what happens to employees who don’t save. That’s when reality set in,” said Laughlin, now 63 and a resident of Kansas City, Kan. She’s been playing catch-up since and doesn’t plan to retire until she’s 67.

Laughlin isn’t the only one who’s learning her lesson the hard way. The Hewitt study found women today still do worse by every measure: they start saving later (by two to four years), invest less (7.3 percent vs. 8.1 percent) and are in and out of the workforce more often for family reasons – gaps that can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in missed earnings, raises and benefits. The study looked at the projected retirement levels of nearly 2 million current workers of varying ages at 72 large U.S. companies and used actual employee balances.

“Women tend to be a little more risk averse, more fearful of losing money,” said Alison Borland, an author of the study.

Women’s saving habits haven’t improved significantly over the past several years, either, Borland said.

The study also found a quarter of women didn’t contribute at a high enough level to take advantage of the company match, which is typically 50 cents for every dollar up to 6 percent of pay. On average, women earned $57,000 compared to $84,000 for men.

Yet women will have longer retirements than men by an average of three years. Socking away more now can improve the quality of those extra years.

If a woman who earns $57,000 a year boosts her contribution from 2 percent to 4 percent – an extra $95 a month – she can save an extra $81,000 by the time she retires, according to the study. That doesn’t include her employer’s matching contribution.

Delaying retirement can have a big impact too; every additional year is more time earning and less time sapping savings.

One of the biggest missteps people make is cashing out plans when switching jobs; that wipes out 30 percent or more of the account’s value in taxes and penalties.

Not surprisingly, the study states 90 percent of women were unsure about managing their finances. It also found that more companies are offering investment guidance, however.

Overall, four out of five men and women aren’t saving enough to keep up the same lifestyle after they stop working. Because of inflation and rising medical costs, Hewitt estimates workers will need to replace 126 percent of their salary after retirement to maintain their lifestyle. Both men and women are on track to replace an average of just 67 percent of that amount.

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