Thrifty Spending: Issue 56

FEATURE ARTICLE:  Being prepared with a will

In an effort to start the new calendar year off right, it is time to think about those issues that perhaps have taken a back seat; for instance, a will. If you are an adult with assets or a parent, you need to prepare yourself for the unexpected so that your assets and children are taken care of in the event of unforeseen circumstances. Otherwise, you are at the mercy of your state’s statue; which may not be what you had intended for your belongings or your children.

Many individuals think that after their death, the spouse receives their inheritance (excluding joint ownership of a house); this is a false belief. Your inheritance will get divided between your spouse and children. If you have no children, it gets divided between your spouse and living parents. In the event of your and your spouse’s death, the courts will appoint a guardian for your children if there is not an appointed guardian in your will. Many individuals verbally appoint a guardian, but often fail to write it down.Verbally asking someone to take care of your children after your death will not hold up in court; you must create a will.

Hiring an attorney to look over your will is not a bad idea. Attorneys can think of things that you perhaps have overlooked; this can be particularly helpful if you are in a second or third marriage and have children with your previous spouses or your spouse has children from previous marriages.  They can also assist you if you are part owner of a business or have many assets that could create a family dispute after your death.

In the event that you are single and without children, evaluate all of your assets as well as tangible property (referring to the contents of your home). If you would like specific pieces to go to certain people that are not related to you or perhaps a charity, then you need to name these individuals in the will.

Once the process of a will has been completed, make it valid. Some states do not find a handwritten will with just your signature binding. You may want to check with the state you reside in to make sure. Otherwise, type it and sign it in front of at least two witnesses and then have them sign it as well.

Keep it updated. Just because you created a will and made it valid, does not mean you are done. Review your living will every two years or if you get married, divorced or have children. You do not have to rewrite the entire will if you have acquired new assets; you may just add an amendment. Attorneys advise against making changes directly onto your will as this may nullify the entire will.

For more information on this topic visit or Both websites are helpful and educational.


Purchasing appliances that are energy efficient to cut down on the utility bill is a wise idea.  However, these appliances can be costly.  Instead, have your power company do an “Energy Audit” on your home appliances.  This audit is free for the consumer and it can teach you which of your appliances is braking the bank.  If you live in a cooler climate, put a sweater on before turning on the heat/furnace.  If your climate is more tropical, invest in fans.  Fans can circulate air and are much less expensive than running the air conditioning unit. Check the air filters in the air conditioning/heating unit.  Make sure they are clean and replace them regularly.  This will allow your equipment to run more efficiently.

DID YO U KNOW that the price is wrong?…there’s a markup

Know before you spend. A few helpful calculations:

Bottled water: 4,000% markup.
Text messages: 6,000% markup. A typical text message costs you .20 cents and the phone company .3 cents to transmit, according to the Chicago Tribune. If the phone company applied text-message rates to a short phone call, you’d pay $120 for the call. If the phone company applied text-message rates to a short phone call, you’d pay $120 for the call.
Move theater popcorn: 1,275% markup.
Brand-name drugs: 200 to 3,000% markup.
Hotel minibar: 400% markup.
Coffee on the go: 300% markup. A $3 cup made by a barista costs .25 cents at home.
Wine at a restaurant: 300% markup.
Greeting cards: 200% markup.
In-room hotel movies: 200% markup.
Precut produce: 40% markup.

From AOL

Thrifty Spending: Issue 55

FEATURE ARTICLE:  Could Free Trial Offers Be ‘Fee’ Trial Offers in Disguise?

Free trial offers can be an efficient way to sample a new product or service without paying for a membership, subscription or extended service contract. Sometimes, though, if you accept a free trial offer and don’t cancel on time or according to the stated policy, you may be unintentionally agreeing to a contract to buy additional products and services.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, says “try before you buy” offers can be effective ways to market. If you like what you try, you may want to go ahead and make the purchase. But if you don’t want to buy the product or service, you may need to cancel or take some other action on a particular timetable to avoid being charged.

When a company takes your failure to cancel before the end of the trial period as permission to continue billing you, you’ve made a “negative option” purchase. Sometimes, unscrupulous merchants make it tough for consumers to take the action that would prevent negative option billing: these merchants may hide the terms and conditions of their offers in teensy type, use pre-checked boxes as the default setting, and put conditions on returns and cancellations that are so strict it could be next to impossible to stop the deliveries and the billing.

Whiter Teeth? Flatter Stomach? Shiny Hair?

If you see a free trial offer online for a product you’re interested in, stop – and read the details.

Find the terms and conditions of the offer. If you can’t find them or can’t understand exactly what you’re agreeing to, look for another merchant. You don’t want to commit to recurring charges for products or services by mistake – or before you’ve tried them and made your decision.

Pay attention to pre-checked boxes. That check may bind you to terms and conditions you’re not comfortable with – or ready to accept.

Look for information about how you can cancel future shipments of merchandise or services if you don’t want them. Do you have to pay? Do you have a limited time to respond? If you’re not satisfied with the information in the offer, look for another one that meets your needs.

Read your credit and debit card statements very shortly after you’ve responded to a free trial offer – and often afterward – looking for charges you don’t recognize or didn’t authorize. Contact the merchant first to try to resolve the issue; notify the card issuer promptly if you see any unusual or unauthorized charges.

Reprint of FTC article 2010

MONEY SAVING TIP:  Tune it up.

Your vehicle will not only thank you for treating it to routine tune ups, but you will also reap the financial benefits.  Oil, air filter changes, the correct tire pressure, all of these things keeps your car running efficiently reducing the amount of gasoline it uses to run.  It will also prevent from high costs of repairing your car from poor maintenance.

DID YOU KNOW…that if you co-sign it becomes your debt? Before you answer someone’s request to co-sign, make sure you understand what co-signing involves.

  • You are being asked to guarantee this debt.  If the borrower does not pay the borrower does not pay the debt, you will have to. Be sure you can afford to pay if you have to and that you want to accept this responsibility.
  • You may have to pay up to the full amount of the debt is the borrower does not pay.  You may also have to pay late fees or collection costs, which increase this amount.
  • The creditor can, in certain circumstances, collect this debt from you without first trying to collect from the borrower.  The creditor can use the same collection methods against you that can be used against the borrower, such as suing you, or garnishing your wages.  If this debt is ever in default, that fact may become a part of your credit record.
  • When you cosign a loan, your ability to borrow is reduced because your personal debt load has increased.

Studies of certain types of lenders show that for co-signed loans that go into default, as many as three out of four cosigners are asked to repay the loan.  When you are asked to cosign, you are being asked to take a risk that a professional lender will not take.  If the borrower met the criteria, the lender would not require a cosigner.

In most states, if you cosign and your friend or relative misses one payment, the lender can immediately collect from you without first pursuing the borrower.  In addition, the amount owed may be increased by late charges or by attorney(s) fees if the lender decides to sue to collect the debt.  If the lender wins the case, your wages and property may be taken.