All Facts

  • It is usually wise to buy airline tickets on a credit card because they help protect you from fraud, and may also provide travel protections.
  • Recent studies have shown that the fish you buy at the store may not be what the label says! Read fine print on labels and ask at the store to verify what type of fish is really in the package.
  • Final price is more important than the percentage off when shopping because companies sometimes inflate the list price in order to boast a "sale" that is not really a bargain.
  • New regulations prevent gift cards from expiring within five years from when they are issued, but other types of "bonus bucks" and special discounts do not fall within these regulations.
  • JFK astutely observed in 1962: "Consumers by definition include us all."
  • According to CNN Money, the "top fifth of earners make more than half of the country's total income."
  • According to CNN Money, over 90% of the growth in the U.S. wealth since 1983 has gone to the top 10%, while the bottom 60% has lost wealth during that time.
  • Warren Buffet was only 31 years old when he made his first $1 million.
  • Studies show that consumers who carry handheld baskets at the grocery store are more likely to make impulse purchases than those who push a cart.
  • Online retailers may sneak extended warranty or subscription charges into your online "cart", so it is important to double–check the cart before clicking submit or accept to finalize the purchase.
  • Most employers' medical and dependent care flexible spending account plans set March 31 as the date by which you must submit expenses for reimbursement. If you miss that deadline, you lose the money left in the account.
  • You can cut the amount of junk mail you receive by going to DMA Choice.
  • You can opt out of prescreened credit–card offers at optoutprescreen.com.
  • Your homeowner's insurance may cover you if you are the victim of forged checks or identity theft. This depends on your home–insurance policy so it is important to read the terms!
  • Usually, "ID–theft" services do not actually provide you with better protection than you can obtain for free by checking your credit reports for free each year on staggered timelines.
  • ID–theft fell in 2010 according to ConsumerReports.
  • resausa.org provides information regarding pricing and product information on energy suppliers.
  • In a recent Consumer Reports Money Advisor poll of its subscribers, 73% indicated that they "somewhat or strongly preferred" dollar bills to dollar coins.
  • You can challenge your property–tax assessment if you think your assessed rate is too high. You need to check with your county or town for deadlines and procedures.
  • The federal government provides tips regarding online safety at onguardonline.gov.
  • You usually get more value from your credit card airline miles by using them for flights than buying products through such programs' various partnerships.
  • "Sale" prices are often not cheaper than the regular prices of the same products elsewhere!
  • Consumers spent over $60 billion on pets in 2010 alone, and ASPCA reports that rabbits are the priciest pets – costing an average of $730 a year!
  • Most financial planners say it wise to make sure you save for retirement before paying for your kids' college because you can't borrow for retirement but can for college.
  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has beefed up its website to help inform consumers about unsafe products – check it out at cpsc.gov!
  • You can save an average of $200 per year by washing your dogs at home.
  • You can save around $75 in one month alone by brewing coffee at home instead of going out for that expensive cup of java!
  • Bringing your lunch to work instead of hitting the restaurants for lunch will save you around $175 a month.
  • Identity thieves rig ATMs to capture your card number and PIN, and have been known to target non–bank ATMs.
  • Starbucks marks many packages of its coffee beans with a coupon for a free tall coffee – so you may be tossing out a free coffee without realizing it!
  • Groupon and others offering "daily deals" often allow purchasers to back out within a stated period of time.
  • Sometimes the coupon packets you get in the regular mail offer better discounts than you get online.
  • Kiplinger's reports that 78% of the credit unions surveyed by Bankrate.com in 2011 offered free accounts, versus only 45% of the surveyed banks.
  • Historically, the stock market has risen in election years.
  • New Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules go into effect in February 2013 to prohibit telemarketing "robocalls" (artificial voice calls or prerecorded messages) except where consumers have given written consent to receive them.
  • Debt collectors and informational callers are often exempt from regulations for telemarketers, but others rules nonetheless may limit how and when they call you.
  • Companies can make telemarking calls if they have a business relationship with the consumer, but consumers can stop those calls by adding their number to the company–specific do–not–call list.
  • You can claim a charitable contribution deduction on your taxes for the extra license plates fees that go to preservation of public lands and other charitable causes.
  • Some life insurance policies let policyholders who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness access part of the death benefit while they are still alive.
  • The 1978 tax–code provision that gave 401(k)s their name involved profit–sharing and not retirement plans.
  • Rotating your tires is a fairly inexpensive way to minimize tire wear, but it is generally not necessary to pay additional costs of having your tires rebalanced because tires are usually balanced for their lifetime when they are initially mounted.
  • Most private–sector employers do not provide their employees with traditional pensions.
  • Russian Czar Peter the Great imposed a –beard tax– in 1705 to motivate Russian men to shave their beards like the modern European men of the time.
  • You can often find great coupons in the phone books that arrive on your doorstep for free each year.
  • You can take out movies and CDs for free from your local public library.
  • Many public libraries offer free seminars on consumer issues, and provide free homework help for children.
  • The U.S. Treasury has extended The Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) through the end of 2013, and borrowers can check to see if they qualify for the enhanced program at makinghomeaffordable.gov.
  • The government will be launching a "buy–to–rent" program in 2012 that will assist investors in areas hard–hit by foreclosures with buying foreclosed properties from Fannie Mae, and then renting the properties out to others.
  • The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recently announced a new online learning initiative to provide free classes taught my MIT professors, and allowing those who successfully complete the online classes to earn certificates from MITx (but no MIT credit).
  • Student debt in the U.S. exceeded credit–card debt for the first time in 2010 according to some reports.
  • Student debt generally can't be discharged in bankruptcy.
  • Finaid.org has reported that the average college student has 8 to 12 loans for his undergraduate education.
  • If you received a large tax refund, you may want to consider adjusting your tax withholding to increase your take–home pay. Otherwise, you may be giving the government an interest–free loan!
  • When shopping for a new insurance carrier, you should check out the carriers' complaint records through the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' Consumer Information Source at https://eapps.naic.org/cis/.
  • Your homeowner's insurance may cover your child living in the dorms at college.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration used to use only "male" dummies for crash tests, but recently added smaller "female" dummies to give a better idea of crash safety for smaller/lighter individuals.
  • The FTC is looking into omissions in product promotions on Facebook and Twitter. It is better to get the full details of a deal before buying based on social media ads.
  • Some information from deleted Facebook accounts can remain in Facebook's computer for up to 90 days.
  • Your name and profile picture on Facebook are always public regardless of your privacy settings, so if you do not want your face on Facebook – do not use a real photo of yourself for your profile!
  • The IRS can check public postings on Facebook when researching taxpayer cases.
  • The BBB has become concerned with scammers who extort money from people by claiming to have found their lost pets based on lost pet postings!
  • Many credit unions have joined banks in charging checking account fees.
  • Websites like Facebook have extensive privacy options, including the ability to hide photos and other personal information.
  • Add–ons can protect you from a range of security and privacy issues online. To browse top–rated and popular add–ons click here.
  • Facebook, Yahoo!, and other companies allow you to keep your browsing history private from advertisers by "opting–out." To opt–out click here.