How to Get Rid of Roaches in Your Apartment | ApartmentSearch

Man in white room looking at over 20 cockroaches on his floorWhen you moved in, everything seemed pristine. The tiles? Gleaming. The stovetop? Spotless. The carpet? Brand new! However, you quickly started finding roaches hidden in cracks, crevices, and cupboards after your move. You’re likely wondering, “Why do I have roaches in my clean apartment?” These pesky creatures are not only terrifying (they can fly!), they are pests that can cause health concerns. Now what? Learn how to get rid of roaches in an apartment if you already keep a clean house.

Why Do I Have Roaches in My Clean Apartment?

A sparkling clean apartment is the best deterrent for attracting cockroaches, but it’s not entirely foolproof, as you unfortunately know. Some common factors that might draw cockroaches to your apartment include:

Damp Areas

Roaches rely on moisture for survival and that search for water will bring them into even the cleanest of apartments. Leaky pipes or a drippy faucet, things you don’t typically associate with a dirty apartment, are just what those cockroaches are looking for. That’s why you’ll most often find roaches in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and other areas where water is used. And don’t forget about things like pet water bowls or standing water in that sink where you’re soaking the dishes overnight.

Cracks and Crevices

Roaches prefer the feel of something solid against their bodies, so even a clean apartment isn’t immune from cockroaches finding their way into the spaces between tiles, cracks in the walls, molding pieces, and gaps found between electrical installation and piping systems. All of these serve as roach shelters.

Food

Leaving any food around and uncovered is inviting cockroaches to come and hang out. Sometimes you may clean your kitchen one day, but then soon forget to wipe down your counters to get rid of food crumbs. Or you forget to close a box of cereal before putting it back into your cabinet. Open tops, lids, and jars make for an easily accessible snack for those pesky bugs.

Best Ways To Get Rid of Roaches In Your Apartment

Cockroaches are quick, sneaky, and adaptable pests that are quite honestly a pain to get rid of. They are also harmful to have around, as they carry bacteria and other infectious agents, so as soon as you spot one of these unwelcome house guests, take action!

Limit Moisture

To reduce the chances of a roach infestation, get rid of standing water anywhere in the apartment. Whether that’s fixing a dripping faucet or avoiding soaking dishes overnight, make an effort to cut down on the sources of water that are available to the roaches.

Seal Nooks and Crannies

You might not usually scour your apartment looking for cracks and crevices, but now is the time to do so. Carefully check for those nooks and crannies and then use caulk to seal them, effectively blocking off the entry points that roaches may use.

Use Bait

Often, the safest and most effective baits work over time to kill off roaches. Place the bait in containers spaced throughout their most frequent hang out spots, and change it out once a month. The cockroaches will either eat it on the spot or carry the poison back to their friends and spread the plague. Various bait and gel options are often found at your local hardware store or supermarket.

Talk to Your Landlord

Finally, if you’ve truly done all you can do, talk to your landlord. Chances are your apartment unit isn’t the only one with a problem, and poorly maintained outdoor spaces may be contributing to the problem. Having a conversation with your landlord could help provide solutions, including bringing in a professional exterminator.

Move to a New Place

If you’ve done everything above and still find roaches in your apartment, you have another option: move! Find a new, clean space, complete with 24-hour maintenance for your next transition with ApartmentSearch.

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com

25 Home Depot Shopping Tips & Tricks to Save Money

Since purchasing my first fixer-upper home a few years back, I’ve set foot inside the Home Depot at least 100 times, and I couldn’t begin to tell you how many visits I’ve made to the home improvement giant’s website.

I’ve spent more money than I’d like to admit. Thankfully, I’ve saved many thousands of dollars too.

If you’re planning a home improvement project to reduce homeownership costs, improve your home’s energy efficiency, or increase your home’s value — or if you’re just taking care of a few DIY projects — check out these tips and tricks.

How to Save Money Shopping at Home Depot

These are the most reliable tips to save money at Home Depot. They range from little-known discounts to well-worn advice on shopping trip timing.

1. Find Home Depot Coupons

Home Depot’s coupon page is a goldmine for discounts and deals in-store and online. If you’re planning a store visit, scroll to the bottom to search for your local ad, which contains time-limited sales not advertised elsewhere on Home Depot’s website.

2. Sign Up for Text Alerts

Sign up for Home Depot’s text alerts if your mobile provider doesn’t charge for inbound SMS messages. You’ll receive at least several messages per week.

Home Depot’s text alerts aren’t particularly well targeted. I’ve received countless offers from departments I’ve never purchased anything in.

But enough alerts are relevant to justify signing up, especially if you’re in the early stages of a big project that will require multiple trips to Home Depot. You can always unsubscribe when you complete the project.

3. Join the Email List for a One-Time Discount

Sign up for Home Depot’s free email list to earn $5 off your next purchase online or in-store. The discount comes as an emailed coupon.

After signing up, you receive Home Depot’s occasional promotion emails, which offer:

  • In-store and online discounts and savings opportunities
  • How-to guides for DIYers
  • Home improvement project ideas and tips

If you’re worried about the extra emails, popular email suites like Gmail divert promotional emails into a separate inbox (labeled “Promotions”) to keep users’ primary inboxes clear. Or you can set up a filter of your own. You’ll barely notice the additional message volume.

4. Search HomeDepot.com for Product-Specific Rebates

Home Depot’s rebate center advertises thousands of rebates on specific products. Part of the reason it has so many is because Home Depot rebates apply at the SKU (unique stock number) level.

That means products that come in different configurations or sizes are likely to have multiple rebates associated with them — different rebate amounts for different sizes, for example.

Many individual SKUs are also eligible for more than one rebate. For instance, an energy-efficient appliance might qualify for a green energy tax credit, a utility company rebate, and a manufacturer rebate.

You must apply for each rebate separately online or by mail, but it’s worth the trouble when you stand to save hundreds on a major purchase.

5. Check for Overstock Deals

Home Depot’s special values include hundreds of overstock products in your local store, either in stock or eligible for ship-to-store. Many are deeply discounted — over 50% in some cases.

It can be hard to find the exact color or specifications you’d like. But if you’re not picky, it’s a fantastic place to find deals on the home goods you need.

If you’re already in your Home Depot store or planning to venture in anyway, check the back for heavily discounted overstock and damaged merchandise. In the rear of the lumber department, old boards sell for up to 70% off, and store staff will cut up to two lengths for free.

Nearby, there’s often a cart or two of miscellaneous discounted products with cosmetic dings or dents that don’t impact function.

6. Look for Daily Deals

Home Depot runs enticing daily deals every day. The category-specific Special Buy of the Day rotates through fairly broad product categories, such as residential water treatment systems and whole-home cooling systems.

7. Use a Cash-Back Credit Card With Rotating Categories

Using a cash-back rewards card with rotating cash-back categories is a must every time you patronize a home improvement retailer.

Your best bet is the Chase Freedom Flex credit card (read our Chase Freedom Flex review) and its quarterly rotating 5% categories. Home improvement stores enter the rotation every year or two. However, Chase makes no guarantees about what’s in store for the future (and typically doesn’t reveal 5% categories until a few weeks before the start of a new quarter).

8. Take Advantage of Temporary Credit Card Offers

Chase Freedom isn’t the only credit card that promises above-average rewards on Home Depot purchases.

Other Chase credit cards have been known to extend time-limited bonus opportunities to cardholders. Examples include the Chase Freedom® Unlimited credit card (read our Chase Freedom Unlimited review) and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card (read our Sapphire Preferred review).

Amex Offers, a members-only discount database for American Express cardholders, usually includes home improvement stores as well.

9. Wait for Promotions to Make Major Purchases

Whether you’re planning a major DIY or contracted home improvement project, it always pays to wait for the right time to purchase your supplies. Once you’ve finished your shopping list, visit or call to ask about upcoming promotions.

You probably won’t have to wait long.

For example, before a major kitchen renovation, my wife and I purchased cabinets and countertops in two separate orders. We bagged the countertops as soon as we decided on the material and pattern to avoid missing a 20%-off sale. But we waited two weeks after settling on cabinets to make the purchase. That was just long enough to snag 30% off that part of the order.

Our design tech told us we probably wouldn’t have to wait longer than two more months for the next cabinets promotion.

10. Be the Squeaky Wheel

Don’t hesitate to escalate. This trick is near-universal in the retail world, but I’ve had excellent luck with it at Home Depot. Department and store managers have tremendous leeway on pricing.

Even rank-and-file department employees are authorized to knock up to $50 off merchandise if the customer isn’t satisfied.

I thought I’d gotten a good deal on new interior French doors during a 15% off sale, but when it took longer than promised to receive them, I politely complained and got another $50 off on the spot.

11. Take Advantage of Special Financing on Major Purchases

Home Depot offers interest-free financing on large purchases for credit-qualified customers.

Chain-wide, the standard deal is a 0% annual percentage rate (APR) for six months on purchases of $299 or more. Individual stores may offer longer interest-free deals on larger purchases.

I’ve taken advantage of a 24-month 0%-APR financing period on a four-figure purchase (the threshold was $1,999 in that instance). That’s the longest interest-free financing period I’ve seen at Home Depot.

But applying for Home Depot’s 0%-APR financing offers means submitting to a hard credit pull that temporarily lowers your credit score by a few points. If approved, you receive a credit card with a credit limit determined by things like your credit score and income.

The larger the purchase amount, the higher your initial credit utilization ratio. And on substantial purchases, your credit limit could be just a little higher than the purchase price. That also negatively affects your credit score, with the effects lingering until you mostly pay off your balance.

Make up for the hit by keeping your credit card account open and unused after paying off the initial balance. I keep my Home Depot credit card in the bottom of a secure filing cabinet, where it’s remained untouched since it arrived.

There’s another perk to using a Home Depot credit card or credit line: an extended return window.

You can return most merchandise (except those listed as uncovered by Home Depot’s return policy) purchased with qualifying Home Depot credit products for up to one year (365 days) from the purchase date.

12. Capitalize on Home Depot’s Expansive Price-Match Policy

Home Depot’s low-price guarantee includes a generous price-match policy that covers in-store and online purchases.

If you find a lower advertised price on an identical product to one you purchased from Home Depot, Home Depot will match that price and the competitor’s shipping rate (if any) and reimburse the difference.

13. Rent a Truck at Your Local Home Depot

Are you moving across town? Or planning to haul the results of your DIY demolition project to the dump?

Before overpaying for a U-Haul or calling in a favor from that one friend with a pickup truck, check your local Home Depot. Though selection varies by store, many have flatbeds (essentially heavy-duty pickups) and box trucks (large moving vans) available for rent by the hour or day.

Home Depot’s truck and tool rental page has more details. For flatbeds, the ideal rental window is two hours or less, after which hourly pricing rises steeply.

14. Rent Tools Before You Buy

Home Depot rents a slew of tools that are too expensive, bulky, or specialized for most people to invest in, especially if you’re only using them occasionally or for one project.

After confirming the tool you need isn’t in stock at your neighborhood tool lending library or hardware store, both of which will probably be cheaper to rent on an hourly basis, stop by your local Home Depot warehouse.

Not all locations offer tools for rent, so check online beforehand.

15. Look for Prices Ending in 6 and 3

It’s easy to spot in-store discounts at Home Depot. Just find the yellow price tags and look at the last numeral. If it’s a 6, it’s a good deal. If it’s a 3, it’s a great deal. It’s the lowest the department is willing to go on that particular merchandise.

Discounted prices ending in 6 typically last for six weeks. Then, the price drops to one ending in 3, where it remains until the product sells out or Home Depot removes unsold inventory to make room for higher-margin stock.

16. Return Dead or Unproductive Plants Within One Year for a Full Refund

The Home Depot garden center’s return policy is better than any other department’s. Perennials, trees, and shrubs all carry a one-year (365-day) guarantee.

If they die or fail to bear flowers or fruit (when applicable) during that period, you can return them for a full refund.

17. Take Advantage of Recurring Annual or Seasonal Sales

Home Depot excels at seasonal sales. At any given time, at least one department is holding a blockbuster clearance event. Examples include:

  • Plants. The garden center typically offers the most enticing deals in April, or whenever spring comes to your neck of the woods. In colder climates, fall sales on perennials, including trees and shrubs, typically feature massive markdowns. Members of the Home Depot Garden Club may qualify for additional discounts and sales not available to the general public as part of their free membership.
  • Holiday Decor and Accessories. Holiday decorations like wreaths, natural and artificial Christmas trees, and serving ware first go on sale during Black Friday week. The home improvement giant marks them down even further in January.
  • Grills. The week of July Fourth is the best time to buy grills at Home Depot.
  • Paint. Paint discounts peak on Memorial and Labor Day weekends, with savings up to 40%.
  • Kitchen and Bath. The first quarter of the year is the best time to make significant kitchen and bath purchases at Home Depot.
  • Patio Furniture. Take advantage of clearance items in Home Depot’s patio furniture department during the waning days of patio season, which can vary by geography.

18. Set Up Subscriptions for Recurring Purchases

Home Depot Subscriptions is a recurring home delivery program that promises 5% savings across the board on household staples like coffee, cleaning supplies, air filters, and pet food.

The program also touts contractor staples, such as job site safety equipment, painting supplies, and power tool accessories.

But Home Depot Subscriptions isn’t the only subscription service. So confirm it’s cost-competitive with alternatives like Amazon Subscribe & Save before enrolling.

19. Leverage Your Military Status

Home Depot treats service members well. Active-duty and retired career personnel get 10% military discounts on every order.

But Home Depot doesn’t leave out veterans entirely. It also offers the same 10% discount to veterans, including honorably discharged enlistees and reservists, during select holiday periods, such as the days leading up to Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

20. Buy Floor Models

If you’re in the market for a major appliance and don’t mind one other people have touched and ogled, buy the floor model. It isn’t always apparent whether floor models are for sale, so ask the department manager if you’re unsure.

And while haggling isn’t common elsewhere at Home Depot, managers are authorized to move older display inventory to make room for newer stock. Discounts of up to 30% off aren’t out of the question.

21. Buy Oops Paint

When you’re doing a project that doesn’t involved finding the perfect hue, such as painting the inside of your garage, turn to the Home Depot paint department’s “oops paint,” the term it uses for paints that are the result of mixing mistakes.

For color-flexible customers, the standard oops discount is about 70% per gallon.

22. Buy From the Pro Desk for Deeper Discounts

The Home Depot Pro Desk primarily deals with professional contractors, but it’s willing to make an exception for high-rolling DIYers too.

If your purchase list adds up to more than $1,500, you qualify for Home Depot’s Volume Pricing Program, which promises up to 30% off materials and supplies.

Technically, you need to join the free Pro Xtras club to get the discount, but it’s often possible to work out a one-time deal with whomever’s on staff at the Pro Desk.

If you’re not planning to spend $1,500 or more on your DIY project, you can still take advantage of bulk pricing on raw materials like tile, lumber, and plumbing.

When available, the bulk price appears on the same price tag as the regular price along with the minimum qualifying quantity.

23. Ask for Recent or Forthcoming Sale Pricing

Home Depot department heads have leeway to extend sale pricing upon request. Asking for a deal that ended last week (or isn’t scheduled to begin until next week) won’t pan out every time.

If you can, waiting for the next sale is a better bet. Still, asking for sale pricing outside sale periods is worth a shot.

24. Get Warrantied Tools Repaired In-Store

If the tool or appliance you bought at Home Depot malfunctions before its manufacturer’s warranty period expires, bring it into your local store for repair. As long as the warranty is valid and the problem arose from regular use, Home Depot doesn’t charge for repairs.

Better yet, it files the warranty claim on your behalf, saving you time and eliminating the suspense of waiting for approval.

25. Use Third-Party Resources to Save Even More

These resources aren’t directly affiliated with Home Depot, but that doesn’t mean they can’t significantly reduce your net spending with the home improvement giant:

  • Paribus. Sometimes, we don’t realize we’ve overspent until days or weeks after the fact. Capital One’s Paribus crawls the Internet for price declines, automatically notifies the user when it finds a lower price on a purchased product, and helps them recover the difference. Paribus is free for Capital One® Venture® Rewards credit card and Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards credit card users, among others. (Read our Capital One Venture and Capital One Quicksilver reviews.)
  • Gift Card Resellers. Buy discounted Home Depot gift cards through resellers like Raise.
  • Cash-Back Apps. Find unique coupon codes or cash-back opportunities from popular cash-back apps like Ibotta, Honey, and BeFrugal. For best results, install the apps’ browser plug-in and shop online to get a reminder to activate them while shopping.

Final Word

Finding what you’re after in a mammoth Home Depot store isn’t always easy.

Paying less after locating it than you would at another home improvement superstore? Comparatively, that’s a snap.

With so many reliable ways to save money at America’s largest home improvement superstore, it’s a wonder DIYers shop anywhere else. As you plan your next home remodel project or seasonal appliance purchase, don’t forget to look for the savings opportunities.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Margin Call Meaning – What It Is, Causes & How to Handle One

Margins are a commonly used tool among investors, especially those who take part in day trading. Margins allow traders to increase their buying power with borrowed funds using a mix of their own money and loans from their brokers in a process known as margin trading.

Although margin loans provide an opportunity for substantially larger gains, there’s also potential for substantially larger losses should things go in the wrong direction.

Margin traders also have to worry about the dreaded margin call, which takes place when their account value falls below minimum margin requirements, which could ultimately lead to forced liquidation within their portfolios.

What is a margin call and how does it work? Read on to learn about margin calls and your options should one happen to you.

What Is a Margin Call?

Traders who use margins must maintain a minimum margin requirement, or a minimum amount of value in unborrowed cash and equities in their accounts. This requirement ensures the brokers aren’t left holding the bag on bad trades should things go wrong.

Maintenance margin requirements vary from one brokerage to another, but the minimum requirement will be at least 25% — a requirement set by both the New York Stock Exchange and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). However, some brokers charge as much as 40% of the amount you borrow.

What’s all of this mean?

When trading on margins, traders take out margin loans to cover a percentage of the value of the securities they are purchasing. For example, you might use $5,000 of your own money and $5,000 of the broker’s money through a margin loan to purchase stock, giving you a total of $10,000 in stock.

In this example, $5,000 of the investment is not your money — it’s borrowed from your broker.

Now imagine your $10,000 investment dropped to $6,250. At this price, after subtracting the $5,000 you borrowed, your personal equity in the investment is down to $1,250.

Because $1,250 represents 25% of the $5,000 margin loan, if the price falls below this point, a margin call would be triggered because the trader’s equity in the investment would fall below the 25% margin requirement threshold.

Pro tip: David and Tom Gardener are two of the best stock pickers. Their Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations have increased 563% compared to just 131.1% for the S&P 500. If you would have invested in Netflix when they first recommended the company, your investment would be up more than 21,000%. Learn more about Motley Fool Stock Advisor.

Types of Margin Calls

There are two different types of margin calls traders should consider before trading on margins. They include:

Maintenance Margin Calls

Maintenance margin calls take place when the account value falls below the minimum margin requirement with the broker. This is the type of margin call that’s described above. Each broker has a different minimum margin requirement, but the floor for this requirement is 25% of the borrowed amount that you must maintain in your account.

Federal Margin Calls

Federal margin calls are a bit different. While a maintenance-related call has to do with an investment that has already been placed, a federal margin call — often referred to as a fed call — takes place when a margin trade is being initiated.

According to the United States Federal Reserve’s regulation T, margin trades can be placed using a maximum of 50% borrowed money. This is known as the initial margin requirement. For example, if you’re planning on buying $10,000 worth of stock in a margin trade, you’ll have to have at least $5,000 of your own money to put up for that trade.

If you attempt to make a margin trade without having the 50% required to appease the Federal Reserve, a federal margin call will take place, which will lead to one of two outcomes:

  1. The Trade Will Be Blocked. With most brokers, if you attempt to make a margin trade without meeting the initial margin requirement, the trade will be blocked and cancelled, and you’ll have to set up another trade within the parameters set forth by regulation T.
  2. Other Securities Liquidated. In some cases, your broker may force the liquidation of other securities in your portfolio to free up the cash needed to make the trade viable.

Either way, the outcome isn’t what investors want.


How to Calculate at What Price a Margin Call Takes Place

Most traders would prefer taking a loss to triggering a margin call. After all, when a margin call is triggered, it means the loss on the investment was so large that it made the trade fall below the minimum requirements.

Most traders calculate at what price a margin call would take place, giving them a baseline of where to close the trade before prices decline to that point.

To determine at what price a margin would happen, follow this formula:

((Margin Loan Amount X Minimum Margin Requirement) + Margin Loan Amount) ÷ Number of Shares = Call Price

For example, let’s say your brokerage firm has a maintenance margin requirement of 30%. You want to buy $10,000 worth of stock with $5,000 of your own money and a $5,000 loan. The stock is worth $50 per share at the moment, meaning that you’ll purchase 200 shares.

Plugging these figures into the formula above would result in the following:

(($5,000 X 0.30) + $5,000) / 200 = $32.50

In this example, if the price of the stock you purchased for $50 per share fell to a market value of $32.50 per share, a call would be triggered, forcing the trader to respond.

Pro tip: Before you add any stocks to your portfolio, make sure you’re choosing the best possible companies. Stock screeners like Trade Ideas can help you narrow down the choices to companies that meet your individual requirements. Learn more about our favorite stock screeners.


What Are Your Options When You Get a Margin Call?

When you log into your brokerage account and see that a call has taken place, it may be a bit overwhelming. The good news is that you have three options to consider to remedy the situation before a forced liquidation takes place:

  1. Deposit Additional Funds. The best option is to deposit additional cash into your margin account to bring the cash and equity value of the account up to the minimum requirements. Of course, this only works if you have additional money outside the account that you can afford to add.
  2. Deposit Securities. The minimum requirements take both cash and the value of securities into account. If you have securities held elsewhere, you can deposit those securities into your margin account to bring the total value of the account up to the minimum requirement.
  3. Liquidate Stock. Finally, you have the option to liquidate shares of stock within your account, using the funds generated through the liquidation to bring your account value back up to par with minimum requirements.

How to Respond to a Margin Call

Returning to the example above, you know that a margin call will be triggered if the price of the stock falls below $32.50. For this example, let’s say the value of the stock fell to $30 per share. That means the current value of your 200 shares works out to $6,000. However, a call triggers as soon as the value of the investment falls below $6,500, meaning that the margin call is for $500.

At this point, you can choose one of three options:

Deposit Funds

First, you can choose to deposit at least $500 into your account to bring the account’s value after the margin loan back up to $1,500, or 30% of the total value of the margin loan. This requires adding $500 of new cash into your account, but you don’t need to move or sell any shares.

Deposit Shares of Stock

You also have the option to deposit shares of stock into your account. Say you have another brokerage account where you own $500 worth of stock. By transferring those shares into your margin account, you’ll bring its total value above the minimum margin requirement, bringing your account back into good standing.

Liquidate

Finally, you have the option to liquidate a portion or all of your holdings in the margin trade. Through the liquidation of a portion of your holdings in the investment, you can balance out the minimum requirement and eradicate the issue altogether.

For example, you could choose to liquidate 100 of your 200 shares, the sale of which would result in $3,000 cash at the current share price. These funds would be used to pay back $3,000 of the $5,000 margin loan.

You’re left with $3,000 worth of stock — $1,000 of your own money and $2,000 left of the margin loan — still invested. Your remaining $1,000 holdings are 50% of the remaining $2,000 loan — more than enough to cover your minimum requirement. However, you’ll have realized a substantial loss.


Final Word

A margin call is nothing that any trader wants to deal with, but if you make the decision to use margins, it will always be a possibility. While margins can expand profitability, they can also result in larger losses, and investors who use them need to consider the extent of these potential losses before getting involved.

Nonetheless, if the risk is worth the reward for you, and you end up with a margin call, don’t panic. Instead, consider which of the three possible remedies to use to bring your account back in line with requirements.

Moreover, if you’re going to trade on margins, treat the trade like any other loan and make sure that you never borrow more money than you can afford to return. In doing so, if and when a margin call does take place, you’ll have the ability to cover the cost if you decide to stay in the investment and await a recovery.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Amazon Prime Day 2021: How to Get the Best Deals

In typical years, Amazon Prime Day falls in mid-July, perfectly placed to interrupt the midsummer retail doldrums.

But 2021 is not a typical year.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt global supply chains in an echo of 2020 when Amazon temporarily refocused its energies on essential business lines like food and personal care products. Prime Day 2020 didn’t happen until October, ahead of a nasty second wave of the pandemic that upended global trade again.

To complicate things further, the arrival of reliable vaccines in early 2021 spurred millions of Americans to make ambitious summer plans. Many people who’d normally jump at the opportunity to capture once-a-year deals in July might not be anywhere near a computer at that time.

That could be why Amazon has decided to move Prime Day 2021 to June.

When Is Amazon Prime Day 2021?

Amazon Prime Day 2021 will take place on Monday, June 21 and Tuesday, June 22.

Be forewarned that Prime Day deals aren’t guaranteed to last the entire 48-hour span. When they’re gone, they’re gone.

Despite its new position on the calendar, Prime Day 2021 is shaping up to be no different from past Prime Days in at least one crucial respect: offering a vast array of attractive deals and discounts on sought-after consumer goods, household products, and small-business essentials.

In the past, Prime Day shoppers have enjoyed discounts of 50% or more on high-demand products. According to Amazon, Prime Day shoppers collectively saved about $1.4 billion in 2020, equivalent to 700 million pairs of socks.

This year, they’ll get in on the action early. Amazon has already announced a slew of pre-Prime Day sales that could be gone before the main event begins.

Best Amazon Prime Day Deals for 2021

What can shoppers expect from Amazon Prime Day 2021? Its Prime Day 2021 flyer offers some tantalizing clues.

The retail giant has already instituted some stealth price drops on popular items like the Fitbit Sense, Instant Pot multicooker, Apple products like iPads and AirPods, and Amazon-branded daily essentials like multivitamins and nonperishable food staples.

It’s also promoted specific early deals on the Amazon Halo wellness band ($69.99, down from $99.99) and the controller for Amazon’s all-new Luna gaming device ($48.99, down from $69.99).

Other early Prime Day 2021 deals include:

And on Prime Day 2021 itself? Prime members can look forward to a host of category- and product-specific deals like:

A general word of advice: Don’t wait to jump on specific Prime Day deals. Once inventory runs out, the deal is gone for good.

Tips to Prepare for Amazon Prime Day & Maximize Your Savings

Want to save as much as possible on Amazon Prime Day without impulse-buying items that you don’t really need? Careful preparation is key to a successful, budget-friendly Prime Day shopping experience.

That means becoming an Amazon Prime member (if you’re not one already), making and sticking to a concise shopping list, and using the proper payment method.

1. Join Amazon Prime

Prime Day deals are only for Amazon Prime members.

That means becoming a Prime member is an essential prerequisite for anyone with big Amazon Prime Day shopping plans — and anyone interested in taking advantage of the $119-per-year subscription’s considerable benefits during the rest of the year.

These benefits include:

  • Free two-day shipping on all eligible Amazon purchases
  • Free one-day or two-hour delivery on eligible purchases in select areas
  • Free no-rush shipping with bonus reward credits against eligible future Amazon purchases
  • Free grocery delivery through Amazon Fresh in select areas
  • Access to Amazon Prime Video’s library of thousands of movies and shows, including exclusive features and series not available anywhere else
  • Unlimited e-books through Kindle Unlimited
  • Unlimited access to more than 2 million digital songs through Amazon Music
  • Free games, in-game content, and subscription to Twitch.tv through Amazon Gaming
  • Exclusive savings (and delivery in select cities) from Whole Foods Market
  • Deals and discounts up to 20% on select products (such as diapers) through Amazon Family

If you’re a first-time Amazon Prime subscriber, opt into the 30-day free trial right before Prime Day. If you’re not satisfied with the service, you can always cancel after Prime Day and before the trial expires, paying nothing for the trouble.

That said, Prime membership is definitely worth the cost for frequent Amazon shoppers able to take advantage of its content and delivery perks.

For additional savings, read up on more tips to save shopping on Amazon.

2. Familiarize Yourself With Last Year’s Deals

Use actual examples from last year to familiarize yourself with the sorts of deals Amazon is likely to offer on the big day.

For example, CNET highlighted a slew of deals on electronics and home goods, some of which remain available (albeit at different price points) in 2021:

Prior-year availability won’t predict with 100% accuracy what Amazon has up its sleeve this year, especially in light of the ongoing pandemic-related supply chain disruptions that delayed Prime Day 2020. But it can and should form the basis of informed guesswork.

3. Set a Reasonable Shopping Budget

Next, set a reasonable Prime Day shopping budget. It’s essential you do so before compiling your shopping list. Otherwise, the temptation to overspend on things you desperately want but don’t need becomes too powerful to resist.

As you likely know from budgeting for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, your retail holiday budget — in this case, your Prime Day budget — should fit neatly into your larger discretionary budget. Avoid the temptation to use Prime Day as an excuse to expand it.

For example, if you typically earmark $500 per month to spend on luxuries or nice-to-haves like restaurant meals and electronics, don’t spend $700 on Prime Day.

In fact, unless you’re willing to go without any other luxuries that month, you need to spend considerably less — perhaps $250 or $300 in this example.

4. Make & Stick to a Needs-Based Shopping List

Making a list is a vital step to take ahead of planned shopping events of any significance, not just Prime Day. The objective is clear: avoiding impulsive purchases you don’t need and could regret in hindsight.

Using clues gleaned from prior Amazon Prime Day deals, your list should include everything you both plan to buy before the end of the year (or, if you prefer and your shopping budget allows, within the next six months) and those reasonably likely to be discounted on Prime Day.

On Prime Day, stay disciplined and condition your purchases on value. If a particular item on your list isn’t discounted for Prime Day, don’t buy it. You’ll likely find better deals later in the year.

5. Use a Browser Extension to Find a Better Deal

Before Amazon Prime Day 2021, add Capital One Shopping, a free browser extension that automatically searches competing merchants’ inventories for a better price when you shop Amazon.

If Capital One Shopping can’t find a better price elsewhere, simply complete your Prime Day purchase as planned. If another retailer has a better price, shop with them instead.

Capital One Shopping isn’t the only browser extension that can save you money on online purchases you’d make anyway. It’s one of the best around, but legitimate and potentially lucrative alternatives abound.

Capital One Shopping compensates us when you get the browser extension using the links provided.

6. Ask Alexa for the Best Deals

Fair warning: This is an easy way to blow through your Prime Day budget. But it’s also incredibly convenient.

If you have an Alexa-enabled device like the Echo Show 5, wake up early on June 21, 2021, and pop the question: “Alexa, what are my Prime Day deals?” Just resist the temptation to purchase them all in one go.

7. Shop Early

Amazon makes no guarantees that any given Prime Day merchandise will remain available for the event’s duration. Quantities are always finite, and unexpectedly high demand for specific products could cause certain deals to sell out sooner than expected.

Your best bet is to shop early, logging on right away on Prime Day morning and getting as much of your shopping list out of the way as possible before the day begins.

You can always return later to complete your list or take advantage of last-minute deals (known as lightning deals) as your budget allows.

8. Look for Prime Day Badges

If you happen to be browsing Amazon anyway during the Prime Day period, look for the little blue badges denoting Prime Day deals. These highlight limited-time opportunities that aren’t likely to remain after June 22.

9. Download the Amazon App for Mobile Purchases

Amazon’s main website works just fine on desktop and mobile devices, but don’t overlook its user-friendly app.

The app is especially useful for shoppers stuck at work during Prime Day’s peak hours, as many employers frown on workers shopping (or conducting any personal business at all) on work-issued devices.

Beyond the obvious perks of a crisper shopping experience in a smaller package, Amazon’s mobile app offers:

  • Voice-assisted shopping using the Amazon Alexa assistant
  • Real-time order tracking and notifications
  • Direct chat support from Amazon’s customer assistance team
  • Single-tap shopping with your smartphone camera

10. Use a Rewards Credit Card (Preferably the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card)

The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card is the best cash-back credit card for frequent Amazon patrons, period. Its three-tier cash-back program earns:

  • 5% cash back on qualifying Amazon and Whole Foods purchases with an eligible Prime membership
  • 2% cash back on eligible purchases at gas stations, restaurants, and drugstores
  • 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases

If you’re not an Amazon Prime member, the otherwise identical Amazon Rewards Visa Signature card earns 3% cash back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases.

Of course, Prime Day sales are for Prime members only, so you must become a Prime member before the big event. But if you already have the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature card, you don’t need to reapply for the Prime Rewards card — the upgrade is automatic and immediate.

But if you have no interest in applying for an Amazon card or don’t qualify, use one or more of these Prime Day-friendly credit cards if you can:

Final Word

Amazon and Whole Foods aren’t the only retailers worth patronizing on Prime Day. Many big-name sellers — Walmart and Target among them — slash prices to compete with Prime Day deals and offer price-match guarantees that may cover Amazon Prime Day deals (though be sure to read the fine print on these policies carefully).

If you play your cards right, your Prime Day shopfest could turn into a multi-retailer blowout that saves you hundreds on purchases you planned to make anyway while supporting your favorite non-Amazon merchants. Talk about a great way to get everything you need for less.

You can make your purchases count by joining the Amazon Smile program before the big day. Shop through the Amazon Smile site — not Amazon’s main site — to ensure Amazon donates 0.5% of eligible purchases to the charity of your choice.

You can also purchase actual products to give to thousands of registered Amazon Smile charities using the Charity Lists feature. It lets you buy frequently needed products, such as paper towels and cleaning supplies, preselected by participating charities, which are then shipped directly to them, putting your dollars to work right where charities need them most.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Which Bills to Pay Off First (or Cancel) When Money Runs Tight

Whether it’s from job loss due to a recession, a drop in income, or an unexpected major expense, there may come a time when you struggle to pay your bills. What can you do when your income and expenses don’t match up?

It’s essential you prioritize your bill payments and what you owe, paying the most important bills first.

Bills to Prioritize When You’re Low on Money

The most important bills are those that cover the necessities: shelter, food, water, and heat, for example.

The next most important are bills that cover things that make it possible for you to get where you need to go, such as your vehicle expenses.

Last on the list are bills that can ding your credit history, but not much else, if you fall behind on them.

Although you can make some adjustments to the order you pay bills based on your circumstances, it’s usually best to focus on paying your housing bills first, then paying what you can with the money you have remaining.

1. Mortgage or Rent

If you fall behind on mortgage payments, you risk having the lender foreclose on your home. If you fall behind on rent, your landlord can evict you.

Even though the foreclosure or eviction process can take months, it’s not something you want to risk happening. Keeping up with your housing payments is a must if you want to stay in your home.

When money is really tight and you’re not sure you can pull together enough to make a payment one month, the best thing to do is talk to your landlord or lender.

Many mortgage lenders have programs in place to help homeowners who are facing financial hardship. Your lender can review your options, such as forbearance or loan modification, with you.

During forbearance, you stop making payments on your loan, but interest continues to accrue. If a lender agrees to modify your loan, they adjust your interest rate or otherwise make changes to lower your monthly payment.

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also has programs available to homeowners struggling with their mortgage payments. You can contact HUD to connect with an approved counseling agency. The counselor can work with you to create a plan to help you avoid foreclosure.

If you’re a renter, talk to your landlord as soon as you know you’ll have difficulty paying rent. Explain the situation to them in detail, including whether you think you’ll be late with payment, won’t be able to pay all your monthly rent, or won’t be able to pay at all.

Many landlords are willing to work with you to come up with a solution. You can help the situation by suggesting solutions.

For example, if you’re going to pay late, tell the landlord when you plan to make the payment. If you can’t pay the full amount this month, tell the landlord how you’ll make up the difference. For example, you can add an extra $100 or so to subsequent payments until you pay off the balance.

If you’re renting and your landlord can’t or won’t be flexible about payments, you might have more wiggle room than a homeowner.

Depending on how much time you have left on the lease, you can simply wait it out, then look for a less expensive place to live. Another option is to try to find someone to take over your lease so you can move somewhere that costs less.

2. Utilities

After your mortgage or rent payment, the next most important bills are your utility bills: gas, water and sewage, and electricity. Although some people count TV and the Internet as utilities, those services aren’t essential for everyone.

Fortunately, many programs exist to help people who need emergency financial assistance paying bills. The first place to look is your local utility provider. Many utility companies have programs to help people pay their bills.

Another option is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a federally funded program that provides financial assistance to help people pay energy bills. LIHEAP has specific income requirements and is grant-funded, meaning only a set amount of money is available each year.

If you think you qualify for LIHEAP, the sooner you apply for it, the better your chances of receiving aid.

3. Insurance Premiums

Having insurance is always a good idea, as it provides financial protection against the worst things life can throw your way, such as illness, fire, or accidents. Paying your insurance premiums even when money is tight is a smart move. Without insurance, medical bills can easily add up.

If you’re struggling to afford your premiums, you do have some options, particularly when it comes to health insurance.

If you purchased a plan from the Healthcare.gov marketplace, you qualify for a special enrollment period if you’ve recently lost your job and associated coverage, if you’ve had a change in income, if you’ve gotten divorced, and for a few other reasons.

During the special enrollment period, you can apply for Medicaid or CHIP if your income is below the threshold or a credit on your insurance premiums based on your income. Doing so can lower the cost of your health insurance considerably.

4. Food & Household Necessities

Food, soap, and paper products are up there with shelter, heat, and hot water on the list of essentials.

Luckily, you have more wiggle room when it comes to adapting your food and household supply costs compared to your mortgage or rent payments and utility bills.

When money’s tight, there are many ways you can trim your food and supplies bill:

  • Limit Shopping Trips. Plan your meals for the week, make a list of the ingredients you need, and go to the store once. The more you go to the store, the more likely you are to buy things you don’t need.
  • Buy Store-Brand Items. Store-brand products usually taste the same as or similar to their brand-name counterparts, but they cost a lot less. If you typically purchase branded foods and supplies, try switching to the store brand. It’s likely the only place you’ll notice a difference is in your wallet.
  • Limit Packaged Products. Packaged foods, such as grated cheese, bagged salads, and prechopped vegetables are convenient, but that convenience comes at a cost. You can save a lot if you buy whole, unprocessed foods and prepare them at home.
  • Skip Bottled Water. If you live in the U.S., it’s highly likely your tap water is safe to drink. According to the CDC, the U.S.’s water supply is among the safest in the world. Bottled water is expensive and terrible for the environment and is often little more than repackaged municipal water.
  • Buy In-Season Produce. Pay attention to seasons when shopping for fresh produce. Fruits like strawberries and blueberries are usually in season and inexpensive during the summer but cost more in the winter. You can cut your grocery costs if you buy what’s in season.
  • Grow Your Own. Another way to cut your food bill is to grow your own fruits and vegetables. Herbs and green vegetables are usually the most cost-effective edible plants to grow, as you can get an entire plant for the price of a handful of herbs or greens at the grocery store. You don’t need a ton of outdoor space to start a garden. You can grow plants in containers on a small balcony or patio.
  • Use Your Freezer. Frozen vegetables and fruit often cost less than fresh, so it pays to purchase those when money is tight. You can also prep double batches of meals to freeze for later. That way, if you run out of money before the end of the month, you have a supply of ready-to-eat meals waiting for you.

Note too that depending on your income, you can qualify for financial assistance with groceries. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, aka food stamps, helps to cover the cost of groceries for people with income below certain thresholds.

Pro tip: Make sure you’re saving as much money as possible on your grocery trip. Apps like Fetch Rewards and Ibotta allow you to save money on purchases by simply scanning and uploading your receipts.

5. Car Loan & Other Expenses

Your car gets you to and from work and other important places, such as your kids’ school, the grocery store, and the doctor. If you have a monthly car payment, it’s crucial to find a way to pay it.

Just as you can call your mortgage company to work out a deal, you can call the lender behind your car loan to see if you can come to an agreement. Like mortgage companies, these lenders can also offer you loan modifications, refinancing, or forbearance.

Loan modification or refinance can lower the amount of your monthly payments, making it easier for you to afford the car. Forbearance means you don’t make payments for a set period.

Another option is to sell your current vehicle, use the proceeds to pay off the loan, then purchase a less expensive model. If you decide to sell, look for a replacement car that has a low cost of ownership to keep your expenses low. Some vehicles are more reliable than others, meaning you don’t have to worry about expensive repair or maintenance bills.

6. Unsecured Debts

Although you should make every effort to repay your debts, when money is tight, unsecured debt, such as credit card debt and personal loans, should move to the back burner. While these debts typically have the highest interest rates, they also have the lowest impact on your daily life.

You don’t go hungry if you miss a credit card payment, nor can your credit card company take your home or car if you pay late.

That said, it’s still best to pay what you can toward unsecured debts, such as the minimum due on a credit card. If even that is too much for you right now, contact the card company or lender. Sometimes, credit card companies are willing to work with you to create a debt repayment plan or let you temporarily pause payments.

7. Student Loans

While you should make every effort to pay your student loans when money’s tight, the loans often have the most flexibility when it comes to repayment, particularly federal loans.

If you have federal student loans and you’re struggling to keep up with payments, you have multiple options. You can request a deferment or forbearance from your loan servicer, or you can switch to an income-driven repayment plan, which adjusts the amount you pay each month based on your income.

The situation with private student loans is a bit different, as they don’t have the same protections as the federal student loan program.

If you’re having trouble affording private student loan payments, your best option is to contact the lender to see if it offers forbearance, repayment plans, or loan modification.


What to Cancel When Money Is Tight

While some monthly bills are essential, others are considerably less so. Budgeting often involves deciding what you need to spend money on and what you can live without.

When it’s a struggle to make ends meet, here’s what you can consider cutting:

Subscription Services

Netflix, print or digital newspapers, and meal kits are all things that can go. In many cases, you can find free alternatives to the subscriptions you were paying for. For example, some local libraries give you access to streaming movies and local or national newspapers for free.

Make sure you don’t miss any subscriptions that you might have forgotten about. Services like Truebill will find subscriptions and either cancel them or negotiate lower rates for you.

Cable and Internet Service

You may not want to disconnect your Internet completely, but see if you can switch to a slower, less expensive plan.

If you have data on your phone, some providers, like Xfinity Mobile, let you use your phone as a hotspot to get online. In this case, you wouldn’t need a separate home Internet plan.

Phone Service

While you do need your phone to stay connected, you most likely don’t need both a landline and a cellphone. You probably don’t need the most expensive cellphone plan, either.

Shop around with companies like Mint Mobile or Ting to see if you can get a better deal.

Gym Memberships and Wellness Services

Maintaining your well-being is important, especially when money is tight. But if you’re worried about having enough money to pay your most important bills, you shouldn’t have to worry about paying for a monthly gym membership or studio pass.

There are plenty of ways to work out for free from the comfort of your home. For example, you can find workouts available for free on YouTube.


Final Word

When money is tight, it’s vital you focus on paying for the things that can help you sustain your life and well-being, such as food and shelter, when times are tight.

While a missed payment can affect your credit history, in desperate situations, your health and safety are more important than your credit score.

Along with prioritizing your monthly bills, talk to your lenders and service providers. Many companies have programs in place to keep you from sinking deeper into debt and to help you avoid repossession of your home or vehicle. Keep the lines of communication open, and remember you’ll get through it.

Source: moneycrashers.com

What is a balance transfer and how do they help?

What is a Balance Transfer Title Image

A balance transfer happens when you move your debt
from one or more sources to a single credit card with a lower interest rate. By
paying less interest, more of your payment goes toward the principal balance.

Balance transfers aren’t always the best way to get debt relief, however. You should carefully consider the benefits and downsides to balance transfers before initiating the process.  

How a balance transfer works

With a balance transfer, you transition the amount you owe from one card
to another. You can also move other types of debt to a credit card. For
example, some issuers may allow the transfer of auto and personal loans.

Here are the five steps to completing
a balance transfer.

1. Choose a
balance transfer card:
You can either open a new credit card for the transfer or
transition your debt to a card you already have. Look at interest rates,
balance transfer fees and other terms to make the best choice.

2. Decide on your transfer amount: Look at the credit limit you have and ensure the balance will be less than your limit. Ideally, the transfer is much lower than your credit limit and lowers your credit utilization ratio in the process.

You’ll also want to look at balance transfer fees,
which are usually around three percent of the amount you’re transferring. Some
cards also have limits on transfer balance amounts. Check your card details
carefully.

3. Review the
terms and conditions:
Make sure you’ve read all of the terms, fees and official
agreements before transferring the balance. While the fine print can be
lengthy, you need to know exactly what it is you’re agreeing to.

4. Initiate the transfer: There are a few different ways you can initiate a transfer—through your credit card’s online account, or calling the customer service line of your credit card company, for example—but how you do so will depend on the policies of your credit card company.

5. Pay off your debt: Make monthly payments toward your balance transfer. Create a plan to pay your debt off within the introductory period, so you don’t have to pay any interest on it.

Balance Transfer Process Image

How a balance transfer affects credit score

Balance transfers can either improve or lower your
credit score, depending on multiple factors. Here’s how:

Your credit utilization rate: If you’re able to pay off more of your debt due to the lower interest rate, your credit score will improve. By paying off debt, you’re using less of your available credit, which lowers your credit utilization ratio.

Making on-time
payments:
Paying your credit card bill on time boosts your credit
score, as payment history is the most significant factor in scoring models like
FICO®. Balance
transfers can help in this area if the transfer makes it easier to pay.

Number of hard
inquiries:

Your credit score takes a hit when you apply for several credit cards at once
because they each trigger a hard inquiry.

Hard inquiries aren’t bad in and of themselves and are a necessary part of applying for credit. That being said, if you have a large number of hard inquiries on your credit report within a short time frame—if you apply for many credit cards at once, for example—it signals to lenders that you may not be responsible with your credit.

Average age of credit: Your credit score is also based on the average age of your credit. It would be more beneficial to your credit to keep your old accounts open even after you’ve transferred the balance. This will increase the average age of your credit accounts. More open cards also help keep your credit utilization rate low.

Credit Factors Balance Transfer Affect Image

When to consider a balance transfer

A balance transfer can help you pay off debt faster
and pay less overall. Here are the main scenarios when a balance transfer can
help.

You have debt with a high-interest rate: If you have a credit card—or many cards—with high-interest rates, it may be good to transfer the balance to a card with a lower rate. By lowering interest, you’re able to pay more toward the principal balance and pay off debt faster.

It’s difficult
to juggle multiple payments:
You can combine debts by transferring them all to a single
card, which will allow you to only have to keep track of one payment every pay
period.

You can get a good promotional offer: Many credit cards offer low or no interest rates during the introductory period (usually six – 18 months). By transferring your debt, you can save money in the long run.

How to choose the best balance transfer card

Balance transfer credit cards compete with other
credit cards by offering good introductory APRs (annual percentage rates) to
attract new cardholders. Generally, the better your credit, the more options
you have for low introductory rates and no transfer fees.

Here are a few other things to consider when shopping
around.

Balance
transfer fee:
A fee for transferring a balance is common. It’s usually about three
percent of the balance amount (like we stated above). If you have a good credit
score, it’s possible that the balance transfer fee might be waived entirely.

Interest rate: Interest rates vary
significantly between cards. Some promotional incentives may offer introductory
zero percent APR. However, be sure to look at what the APR is after the
introductory period, in case you don’t pay off all your debt in that timeframe.

Length of
promotional period:
The introductory promotional period for balance transfers is
usually six – 18 months. A longer promotional period allows you more time to
pay off the debt before a higher interest rate is applied.

Annual fee: Some cards charge a fee each
year to keep the card active. Be on the watch for high annual fees.

Credit limit on
a new card:
A
higher credit limit can help you maintain a lower credit utilization rate. If
you’re transferring a balance, make sure your credit card limit far exceeds the
balance you’re transferring.

Basic requirements: It’s best to apply for a card that you have a good chance of being approved for. When you apply for a credit card and aren’t approved, the hard inquiry will remain on your credit report. As we said above, too many hard inquiries occurring in a short time period can lower your credit score.

Key Balance Transfer Card Features to Compare Image

Generally, if the amount you save with a lower interest rate is higher than the balance transfer fee, it may be worth transferring the balance. It’s also ideal if you can pay off the balance during the zero percent interest period, and avoid paying interest on any of your debt.

What to do after you’ve transferred your balance

After you’ve transferred your balance, there are a few
things you can do to improve your credit score and pay off your debt.

Make timely
payments:

On-time payments boost your credit score. Any late or insufficient payments can
potentially invalidate lower interest rates and harm your credit score.

Note important
dates:
Set
reminders for when the introductory period ends. Any debt you don’t pay off
during that period will be charged with greater interest rates. You’ll also
want to make sure you complete the transfer within the given timeframe.

Create a plan
to pay off debt within the zero percent timeframe:
Design a budget that works for you to
pay off your debt, ideally within the zero percent interest timeframe. This
might include scaling back on expenses or picking up extra shifts at work. In
the long run, it could save you quite a bit.

Don’t make purchases on your new card: When you make a payment, the funds go to your purchases first, then your transfer balance. Try to use a different method of payment to make purchases, so your credit card payments only go toward your older debt.

Keep your old cards open: By keeping other cards open, your total available credit limit is higher—meaning your utilization ratio is lower. Having older cards also increases the average age of your credit accounts.

Why you should check your credit report after a balance transfer

Mistakes sometimes happen when there is a lot of
activity on your credit report, such as data errors and information that should
no longer be on your report.

These inaccuracies can unfairly affect your credit score. For example, some of your credit reports might not reflect the balance transfer properly. Credit repair can help you review your report, identify errors, and work to correct—giving your credit score a boost. Contact the credit repair consultants at Lexington Law to learn how we can help you.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

24 Restaurant Chains That Offer Senior Discounts

Older women eating at a restaurant
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Are you cooking for fewer people these days? Once the kids grow up and move out, family meals fall by the wayside. For some reason, it’s just not as much fun to cook for one or two people, and you’d much rather eat out or order in.

Of course, restaurant dining comes at a cost. During 2019, American households spent an average of $3,526 on food away from home. For those on a fixed income, the expense of eating out is even harder to swallow.

To make it easier, we’ve rounded up several restaurant chains across the country that offer “senior” discounts. Many of these deals are available to diners 50 years old and up.

We recommend asking your server or calling ahead to confirm any promotions. Keep in mind, you may need to present an ID or sign up for a loyalty program to be eligible.

1. IHOP

An IHOP restaurant sign in Nashville, Tennessee
James R. Martin / Shutterstock.com

The pancake house has a dedicated 55+ menu, which offers select breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes at a lower price than the regular menu.

2. Denny’s

Denny's
LifetimeStock / Shutterstock.com

Check out the Denny’s 55+ menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner specials at reduced prices. (Enter your ZIP code to see the 55+ menu of your local restaurant.) In some cases, the 55+ entree saves you more than $2. Prices and selections may vary by location.

If you are an AARP member, you can save 15% on your entire check at Denny’s. (For more such deals, skip to the “AARP member discounts” section of this article.)

3. El Pollo Loco

El Pollo Loco
Idealphotographer / Shutterstock.com

At El Pollo Loco, diners 60 years of age and older are eligible for 10% off their order. Ask the cashier about the offer before you check out. Note: The maximum discount value is $1.

4. Cicis

Cicis Pizza
Brett Hondow / Shutterstock.com

Cicis does offer discounts for seniors, military personnel and large groups. However, the discounts vary by location because most Cicis restaurants are individually owned. Ask your nearest Cicis about their special savings offers.

5. Chili’s

Chili's
Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com

While there’s no company-wide policy in place, some Chili’s locations offer discounts to senior citizens, military members and uniformed officers. Contact your local Chili’s to find out if it participates.

6. McDonald’s

Bikeworldtravel / Shutterstock.com

McDonald’s says certain franchise locations may offer a special discount for seniors. Contact your nearest McDonald’s store to find out more.

7. Applebee’s

Applebee's restaurant
Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com

An Applebee’s spokesperson tells Money Talks News that there is no national offer for seniors, but you can call your nearest Applebee’s for specific deals available at that location.

8. Golden Corral

Golden Corral
Helen89 / Shutterstock.com

Select Golden Corral locations offer senior specials, so ask your nearest restaurant if it participates. No matter where you live, though, additional savings and rewards are available when you sign up for the Good as Gold Club. Check off the box that indicates “Seniors (60+)” so you can start receiving news and promotions most relevant to you.

AARP member discounts

AARP
Piotr Swat / Shutterstock.com

As soon as you turn 50 years old, you’re eligible to become a full-fledged AARP member. While there is an annual fee, the membership unlocks countless discounts on everything from hotels to health care.

AARP has also partnered with over a dozen restaurants to offer exclusive members-only discounts. Below are the ones currently listed on the AARP website.

  1. Bonefish Grill: 10% off dine-in food and non-alcoholic beverages
  2. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.: 10% off food and non-alcoholic beverages
  3. Carrabba’s Italian Grill: 10% off dine-in food and non-alcoholic beverages
  4. Chart House: 10% off food and non-alcoholic beverages
  5. Corner Bakery Cafe: 10% off your total check, excluding delivery orders
  6. Joe’s Crab Shack: 10% off food and non-alcoholic beverages
  7. Landry’s Seafood: 10% off food and non-alcoholic beverages
  8. Landry’s Inc. Restaurants (select brands): 10% off food and non-alcoholic beverages
  9. McCormick & Schmick’s: 10% off food and non-alcoholic beverages
  10. Oceanaire Seafood Room: 10% off food and non-alcoholic beverages
  11. Outback Steakhouse: 10% off dine-in food and non-alcoholic beverages
  12. Rainforest Cafe: 10% off food and non-alcoholic beverages
  13. Saltgrass Steak House: 10% off food and non-alcoholic beverages

You may need to have your AARP card or membership number handy to be eligible for these savings. Also note, discounts may not apply to delivery orders and some restaurants may be closed or operating at reduced capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions.

AMAC member discounts

Association of Mature American Citizens
Postmodern Studio / Shutterstock.com

Join the Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC) after your 50th birthday to access exclusive coupons and discounts on food, travel, insurance and more. Below are AMAC’s current restaurant partners, where you can score up to 50% off an entree.

  1. Friendly’s: Three coupons available, including 50% off an adult entree with the purchase of one other entree.
  2. Long John Silver’s: Members age 55 and up save 10% to 20% (discount varies by location).
  3. Papa John’s: Get 25% off regular menu items ordered online.

AMAC members also can get a $25 restaurant gift certificate from Restaurant.com for only $5.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

How to Save Money on Wedding Photographers & Videographers

According to The Knot, the average cost of an American wedding was about $28,000 in 2019. Wedding photography and videography account for $2,400 and $1,800, respectively, or about 15% of the total.

Professional-grade wedding memories are expensive. If you’re fretting about how you’re going to pay for them, use these tips for getting cheap (or at least cheaper) professional wedding photography and videography to help save money on your wedding.

How to Save on Wedding Photographers and Videographers

Use these tips and tricks to reduce the cost of a professional wedding photographer or videographer without sacrificing the quality of the finished product.

1. Set Up a Photography and Videography Registry or Fund

You’ve heard of a wedding gift registry. Why not open a separate wedding media registry through which guests and apologetic no-shows can chip in toward your photography and videography costs? Some high-end photography and videography studios offer this service directly, or you can go the DIY route and launch a crowdfunding campaign on a crowdfunding site like GoFundMe.

DIY registries or funds offer more control over contributions. For instance, you can expand them to include general wedding and post-wedding expenses. They’re a straightforward option if an affordable honeymoon is a top priority.

Plus, if guests contribute to your media registry or fund in lieu of gifts, you don’t have to devote as much energy to regifting, returning, or selling unwanted gifts online after the big day.

2. Tap Your Personal Network

If you want your official wedding photos and videos to look truly amazing, you don’t want to give the job to a random guest whose top qualification is an above-average Instagram account. But you may know or know someone who knows professional or qualified amateur photographers and videographers capable of producing professional-grade material.

Depending on the strength of your connection, you may be able to secure a friend or family discount for those services, even if they’re already established as professionals in your area. The depth of this discount is sure to vary, but in my experience, 5% or even 10% off full price isn’t unreasonable. For instance, we worked with my wife’s former classmate, who’d recently established a professional photography business with her husband. They gave us a small discount and didn’t charge for travel to and from the reception site, as was apparently customary for other jobs in their rural hometown.

Qualified nonprofessionals or rising professionals, such as recent film or visual arts school graduates without practices of their own, may be willing to work for even less, especially if they’re able to build their profile or meet new prospects as a result. Just make sure they have adequate equipment, enough help, and enough prior experience to pull off a big job. As with anyone you hire, check out their previous work first.

3. Get Multiple Quotes to Compare Pricing and Service

When buying a car, you don’t jump at the first offer you see. You compare multiple offers for comparable vehicles, weighing the relative pros and cons until you arrive at an informed decision you’re reasonably confident you won’t regret.

The scale of your wedding media investment might be smaller, but your decision’s consequences echo even further into the future. Spend as long as it takes thoroughly researching photographers in your area and requesting quotes (if they don’t provide pricing upfront) from all who seem in line with your general tastes and budget.

You can jump-start the research process by attending a wedding fair near the area you plan to get married. They typically occur before the wedding season begins and can attract hundreds of service providers (including photographers and videographers) from miles around.

4. Check References

Once you’ve narrowed your choices to a few finalists, thoroughly check them out, just as you’d run a Carfax report on a used car before buying it from a random person (or a sketchy dealership, for that matter). Read online reviews, evaluate their posted work, and connect with people who’ve recently used their services. And don’t be afraid to ask them directly for references.

Though checking references can’t reduce the final cost of your wedding photography and videography, it can increase the chances of satisfaction. You can’t do your wedding over. Paying a bit more for wedding media you love is an investment in the fond memory of what’s hopefully one of the happiest days of your life.

5. Get a Personal Use Release

Your wedding photographer and videographer is almost certain to keep the copyright to your media, meaning you can’t use your wedding photos or videos for your own commercial purposes. But most photographers and videographers readily agree to personal use releases that allow clients to reproduce photos and videos for personal use, sharing among friends, and posting on social media.

If your provider’s contract doesn’t explicitly spell that out, ask them to add it. And think twice about working with any provider who says no. A personal use release removes any doubt about your ability to order reprints or copies in the future, ideally from a discount merchant (such as a drugstore) that charges much less than your photography or videography studio.

6. Stick to a Lower-Priced Package

Most wedding photographers and videographers offer basic packages like ceremony coverage plus pre-reception wedding party shots. These packages include fewer add-ons and frills, such as gratuitous shots of the bride in their wedding dress and personal shoots for bridesmaids. In some cases, their standard arrangement covers just the shoot itself plus an online gallery or image DVD.

By providing just the bare essentials and giving you the flexibility to choose how (and whether) to order additional products, such as bound albums or wall prints, the basic package gives you greater control over your total photography and videography costs. It also allows you to spread your investment over a longer period.

And if you choose to order additional products later, you can likely do so at a lower cost online or at a brick-and-mortar photo shop provided you have a personal use release.

Photography and videography package costs vary tremendously by factors such as provider quality and reputation and geography. Louisiana’s Love Photography is an excellent example of the often vast discrepancy between basic and deluxe photography packages. Its basic package costs $999. The next-highest package costs $1,320, and the most expensive package costs $2,945.

7. Look for Professional (but Less Established) Independents

If your wedding media’s quality is even a remote concern, resist the temptation to source an unvetted amateur from Craigslist or your wedding guest list, no matter how tight your budget. You’re more likely to be disappointed with the results.

But it is possible to find professional-grade work at nonprofessional prices. Up-and-coming photography and videography professionals are often willing to work for less than what more established professionals charge. They’re frequently just out of school or ready to move up from assistant roles and launch their own independent businesses. The best place to find them and verify their credentials is on reputable job boards like Indeed and freelance job websites like Upwork.

8. Book Early

Not all wedding photographers and videographers offer early-bird discounts, but it never hurts to ask. Just be realistic about what early means in the world of wedding planning, which is probably no later than six months before the big day. Make a point to reserve your wedding photography and videography around the same time you book your wedding venue if you’re not arranging them through the same vendor.

9 Ask for an Off-Peak Discount

Many people get married on Saturdays. If you’re willing to buck the crowd and organize a weekday (Monday through Thursday) wedding, ask photographer and videographer candidates for an off-peak discount. Depending on local customs and the providers’ whims, it’s not unreasonable to expect a 10% or 15% discount off the final bill for a midweek shindig. For example, our engagement photographer, who also did weddings, cut 15% off her bill for Monday-through-Thursday weddings.

The same principle applies to off-season weddings in regions with sharply defined wedding seasons. If you’re scheduling a February wedding in Boston or Chicago, it never hurts to ask for a discount. But winter weddings are increasingly popular, so don’t be surprised by a refusal. There are other potential financial benefits to weekday and off-season weddings too, such as venue and catering discounts.

10. Ask for Referral Discounts or Credits

Don’t be shy about asking your photographer or videographer for referral discounts or credits. Many professionals readily offer kickbacks, either as a discount to the final service bill or credits for future orders, to current or prior customers who refer new business.

You don’t have to shill for them at your wedding, but if you know anyone who’s planning their wedding, you can suggest your photographer or videographer.

It works in the other direction too. If friends refer you to their wedding media provider, you may qualify for a discount. Discounts and credits vary by factors such as vendor and location, but $25, $50, or even $100 isn’t outside the realm of possibility. For example, our engagement photographer offered $50 off for referrals who purchased photography packages.

11. Look for Custom Packages

In the rush to get ready for the big day, it’s easy to surrender to the simplicity of preset photo or video packages, which tell you precisely what you’re getting and how much it’s going to cost. However, preset packages often include unnecessary services or add-ons, and providers aren’t always willing to customize on the spot.

To avoid paying more than you should, look for providers that offer custom packages. These packages typically have minimal conditions. For example, you can choose how many hours the provider works on your wedding day, and you get all your images in electronic format. But beyond that, the services rendered and deliverables (such as albums) are up to you.

Larger custom packages sometimes qualify for discounts. For instance, Atlanta-based Amanda Summerlin Photography, a high-end photography studio, knocks 5% off custom packages of $3,900 or more, 10% off custom packages of $4,600 or more, and 15% off custom packages of $5,700 or more.

12. Book Photography and Videography With the Same Provider

Not all photography studios offer videography services, nor vice versa. But if you choose a provider capable of shooting professional-grade photo and video, look into combined photography and videography packages, which can cost hundreds of dollars less than separate photography and videography jobs.

13. Avoid Nonlocal Photographers and Videographers

Unless you’re having a destination wedding in a remote area, avoid working with nonlocal providers. Out-of-area photographers and videographers often add mileage or airfare to the cost of their services, potentially raising the final bill by hundreds of dollars.

Even if your provider doesn’t explicitly add travel costs to your final bill, they’re likely built into its margins, and your total cost is therefore likely to be higher than what a comparable local provider would charge.

14. Work With Venue-Preferred and Recommended Providers

If you’re planning your nuptials at a wedding venue that’s accustomed to hosting weddings, inquire about preferred or recommended photographers and videographers.

Some venues have a de facto referral system. The venue drives business to favored vendors, who then offer discounted services or special packages. Some larger venues even have staff photographers and videographers that work closely with onsite wedding planners and build their fees into the total cost of the event. Further, such providers are likely familiar with the specific venue and already know the best sites for shots.

15. Limit Your Photographer’s and Videographer’s Hours

Some photographer and videographer packages include a specific number of hours of coverage, usually four to seven. Before hiring your provider and choosing your package, determine how long you need them to be present.

You probably want to capture high points like the walk down the aisle, exchange of vows, post-ceremony procession, and cake cutting, but do you really need professional shots of the rehearsal dinner, the bride getting ready, distant family members, or the later stages of your reception party?

Choose your package accordingly, and don’t be afraid to ask for modifications. For example, if you don’t need reception photos or videos at all, your provider may be willing to bail right after the customary post-ceremony wedding party shots.

16. Limit Your Photography and Videography Staff Size at Smaller Weddings

It isn’t always possible with larger or logistically complex weddings with multiple shooting sites or challenging conditions. But if you expect fewer than 75 guests at your wedding and plan a relatively traditional ceremony and reception, your provider may be willing to send only a lead photographer or videographer, forgoing the assistants and interns who often help with setup, shooting, and equipment-ferrying at larger events. Depending on the provider, that could reduce your service bill by a few hundred dollars.

17. Order Fewer, Smaller Finished Photos

Because they’re easier to frame and look better on display, larger wedding pictures typically cost a lot more than wallet-size or small frame-size (4-inch-by-6-inch or 5-inch-by-7-inch).

If you place a finished photo order with your photography studio, stick to the smaller sizes or purchase only a few larger photos for display in your home. Resist the temptation to send a large framed photo to every member of your wedding party or aunt and uncle who made it to the ceremony.

If you do want larger photos down the line, you can use your online proofs to place an order with a discounted service or buy from your provider when your budget has recovered from the trauma of the wedding.

18. Lose the Leather Binding and Hard Pages

Wedding photo albums are pricey — really pricey. When purchased a la carte, high-end wedding albums (think bound leather albums with rigid pages) can cost up to $1,000, according to Zola. Larger sizes are especially pricey.

While it’s nice to have a weighty tome of wedding memories to pull out for your houseguests and future kids, it’s possible to achieve similar results at a lower cost. Opt for a simpler magazine-style album with glossy, flexible pages. The quality of the quality is similar, as is the durability of the paper, which is critical if you plan to share your wedding memories with your children and grandchildren.

19. Don’t Order a Proof Book

Many photographers offer proof books, which allow you to review the photos they’ve taken and select your favorites before ordering your final prints.

The catch is that you often pay for the proof book too. Our wedding photographer advised us we’d pay an extra $100 if we wanted a proof book. We told her to skip it and send us a selection of digital files to review (for free). Unless you wish to keep the book in lieu of a bound album, you can do the same.

20. Crowdsource Photos and Videos From Your Guests to Create an Album or Folio

If you want a professional-grade memento of your big day, cutting out the photographer or videographer altogether isn’t a viable option. But you can still pair a less extravagant professional wedding package and fewer pro photos with a free or low-cost crowdsourced photo campaign.

Before the ceremony, either on your invitations or in your wedding program, invite your guests to snap photos or take videos with their smartphones and post them to social media or an online space.

Brides magazine has a comprehensive list of useful wedding photo-sharing apps, some more expensive than others. If you tell your guests to post photos to social media, give them a unique wedding hashtag to make it easy to find the photos. It’s usually some variation on the wedding couple’s names plus the year.

Make it clear they can be as creative as they please as long as they don’t disrupt the service. Or let the pros handle the wedding and invite the guests to get artistic at the reception.

If you worry about phones or photos getting lost in the shuffle, place disposable cameras on each table and ask patrons to place them in a designated box or bowl when the festivities are over. The results won’t win any awards, but they’re sure to be entertaining — and as time goes on, even poignant.

21. Pay With a Cash-Back or Rewards Credit Card

No matter what your final wedding media bill comes to, you can marginally reduce the sticker shock (and budgetary carnage) by paying with a cash-back credit card. Though wedding photography and videography rarely fall into favored spending categories, such as grocery store or gas purchases, they’re still good for the baseline earning rate.

For example, by paying your photographer and videographer with Chase Freedom Unlimited (unlimited 1.5% cash back on most purchases, including wedding photography and videography) or Citi Double Cash (unlimited 2% cash back) card, you can knock the final cost of a $2,000 bill down to $1,970 and $1,960, respectively.


Final Word

Professional photo and video services aren’t cheap. The Knot’s survey showed the average American couple spends more than $4,000 to document their special day when they opt for both.

Fortunately, your wedding day is probably going to be the high point of your professional media-buying career. Even if you and your spouse spring for newborn baby photos, periodic family portraits, and high school graduation photos for your kids, you won’t ever spend as much on photo and video as you do on your wedding day.

Source: moneycrashers.com