All Tips

  • Go to Annualcreditreport.com to order free copies of your credit report from the three main credit reporting agencies in order to check that the information is correct, identify irregularities, and learn about credit inquiries that have been made.
  • If you have been the victim of identity theft, you should immediately file a police report, close pilfered accounts, and change PINs and passwords.
  • If you are concerned about your identity being stolen, you can call TransUnion (800–680–7289), Experian (888–397–3742), and Equifax (800–525–6285) to have your credit files flagged with a fraud alert to notify merchants not to open new accounts under your name without your express approval.
  • Check your credit card statements regularly for small charges for subscription and membership fees you never approved, and dispute unapproved charges with the merchant or your credit card company.
  • Before buying things from an unfamiliar merchant, call to verify the listed phone number and address, and go to the Better Business Bureau website at www.bbb.org to check the registration and complaint record for that merchant.
  • Compare credit card rates, fees and rewards to determine what is best for you. Visit Bankrate.com to see competing card rates.
  • Save considerable sums in interest charges and pay off your auto loans, credit cards, and mortgage in less time by paying more than the minimum payment each month.
  • Make a list of your top five financial goals and map a plan for tackling at least one of the goals within the next 48 hours.
  • Change your passwords for online accounts regularly and choose strong passwords that are not easy to break in order to help prevent identity theft and internet frauds.
  • Make a complete list of all of your credit cards and who to contract in case they are stolen. Put this in a separate secure location so that you can quickly call and cancel the credit cards if they are stolen.
  • Go to Gasreport.com or Gasprices.mapquest.com to find the best gas prices in your area before heading to the pump to fuel your car.
  • Read the terms and conditions of credit card, cell phone and other agreements before signing up, or you could get hit with unwanted charges and fees.
  • Call your car insurance company at least once a year to set proper deductibles, and to make sure you have the coverage you need, are getting all available discounts, and are happy with your rates. It is often worth it to negotiate for lower rates.
  • Ask your cable or satellite television provider for an account review and see if you can get any additional rebates or discounts. They often will give loyalty and other discounts to those who ask in order to retain customers.
  • Cut entertainment costs by canceling cable and satellite TV plans, and opting instead to check out DVDs for free from your local library and watching television shows on the TV network's website or hulu.com for free.
  • Ask your cell phone provider for an account review and see if you can get any additional rebates or discounts. They often will give out these perks to keep you as a customer, especially if your contract has or is about to expire.
  • Ask you cell phone provider for a free phone upgrade, especially if you sign up to renew your contract. Often this is available for loyal customers.
  • Go to naic.org, the website for the National Association for Insurance Commissioners, to get resources and information regarding auto and home insurance requirements and rates. On this site, you also can link to resources specific to insurance in your state.
  • Consider "bundling" your telephone, internet, and/or cable or satellite television services in order to get additional discounts and a unified bill (instead of receiving separate bills for each of these services).
  • Generally skip offers to purchase extended warranties for automobiles, electronics and appliances. They usually are not worth their cost, and may have severe restrictions that make them nearly impossible to use.
  • If you are at the airport and learn your flight is cancelled, call the airline while you quickly get in the airline's customer service line in order to maximize your chances of getting on another flight or receiving other assistance.
  • Pack a copy of your itinerary and contact information in checked luggage to assist you in retrieving your luggage if your tags disappear and your luggage is lost.
  • Pay attention at the store checkout to see that you are receiving all advertised discounts, and alert the clerk of any price inaccuracies. Stores will correct the price or give you the product for free when it is their system's error.
  • When you purchase online, be careful not to click "ACCEPT" without reading what you agreed to and un–checking boxes for you to opt–in for things you do not want. You often have to click pre–checked "opt–in" boxes to remove the check.
  • Be careful in protecting your privacy and minimizing marketing materials by un–checking the pre–checked "opt–in" boxes contained on may websites that authorize companies to send you marketing materials or share your information with other companies.
  • Take advantage of companies' price–match and price–protection programs. —Many retailers will refund you the difference if you see that something you recently bought is advertised for less. Check store policies, and ask for a refund even if the store does not have a policy. It never hurts to ask!
  • The burden is often on consumers to find out about unsafe products and product recalls! Go to saferproducts.gov to search for safety information about specific products and file your own complaints. You can also call the Consumer Product Safety Commission's Hotline at (800) 638–2772 and join a free e–mail subscription list at cpsc.gov.
  • Watch out for the BPA linked to various health problems not only in plastic bottles and containers, but also the lining of cans for things like soup and tuna. Check labeling for recycle codes 2, 4, or 5, which are unlikely to have BPA.
  • Beware of cancellation fees, and consider them before signing up for long–term services. Often, promotional offers for such things as gym membership, cell phone, cable, and satellite television services require long–term contracts that have high cancellation fees.
  • Go to irs.gov and see if you have a check or property you failed to claim. You never know if money is waiting for you to claim and it is fun to use the site's interactive map!
  • Watch out for credit card payment processing fees and minimum charge requirements, which have popped up more frequently in the wake of recent credit card regulations.
  • Check your privacy settings, and limit your audience and apps on Facebook at least once a month to keep up with Facebook changes.
  • Be aware that sharing your posts and photos on Facebook with "friends of friends" may expose your information to thousands of people.
  • Be wary of the "buy–one–get–one–free" promos that require you to pay separate shipping because you may end up paying more than if you simply bought two at the store!
  • Gather information on how to protect your online security on the FTC's new website atonguardonline.gov.
  • Make sure to follow all the bank’s procedures and watch out for fees when closing a bank account, or you may run into surprise fees and/or accounts that never closed.
  • Check how websites and apps do in protecting your privacy at Privacyscore.com
  • Make sure to check and set all the privacy controls under the ads and apps for your Facebook account, and turn off apps if you want to block your information from such third parties.
  • Airline lose your luggage? Most luggage is not actually lost, just delayed. Contact a customer services agent for an update, but be aware that it may take a few weeks.
  • Don’t put valuable items in your checked luggage. If they are lost, most airlines have a limit on how much they will pay for each bag, and they only pay current, not replacement value.
  • If your dryer is slowing down, it might be clogged so try vacuuming all lint out of the interior and pipes, not just the lint tray.
  • Buying an appliance? Shop around for the lowest prices, then check manufacturer websites for coupons that could save even more!
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate when buying appliances. Statistics show that negotiation is successful 70% of the time for major appliances, and nearly as often for smaller purchases like vacuums.
  • It usually does not pay to buy an extended warranty. You are better off choosing products known to need less repairs (do research!) and paying for any repairs as needed.
  • If you buy an extended warranty, read the fine print! Some only cover specific types of damage, or come with automatic renewal fees.
  • Out of stock? Ask a customer service representative if you can get a rain check, order from a different store, or even order online with free in–store delivery.
  • When buying an appliance, always ask about shipping, installation, or haul–away fees. Fees add up and sellers are often willing to waive them if you ask.
  • Think you might need a new appliance soon? Start watching for deals now, and be aware that big sales occur over Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends.
  • Appliance shopping on a budget? Open–box and floor models often sell for hundreds of dollars less, if you don't mind the dings and scratches from the store.
  • Try to keep student loans less than the starting salary at a first–year job in your field. Otherwise, you might not be able to afford the payments.
  • Keep student loans down by only borrowing enough for tuition. Living expenses can easily double them.
  • Student loan debt too high? You can opt for extended, graduated, or income–based repayment, which can stretch out repayment. The downside: You pay less now, but more over the life of the loan.
  • Government or private student loans? Government rates are fixed and usually lower than market rate, but limited. Private loans are limited only by what you qualify for, but usually require a credit check and possibly a cosigner.
  • Beware of great deals on private student loan interest rates: they are usually variable and can rise and fall by as much as 10% across different years.
  • If you need a private student loan, shop around. The school's "preferred" lender might offer great rates… or donate a portion of the proceeds to the football team. Compare rates and terms to make sure you are getting the best deal.
  • When applying for student loans, read what you sign! Many loan applications are now entirely online, and clicking the "I accept" box without reading can be a big mistake.
  • If you can, make interest payments on student loans while you are in college. This way all you have to pay when you graduate is the amount you borrowed.
  • Buying a new car? Shop around for the best loan rates. Dealers' rates are not always the best and often credit unions are better.
  • Get pre–approved for a car loan from a bank before you enter a dealership. If the dealer offers better rates, you can always change, but pre–approval gives you negotiating power.
  • When taking out a car loan, watch out for dealers who "bump" your APR, raising it several points above what you qualify for so they make more money on the loan.
  • When buying a car, set a hard price limit before you walk into a dealership. Otherwise, you can end up spending much more than you intended.
  • Don't be fooled by the APR on car ads. These preferred rates go only to those with the best credit histories, and can be wildly different from the rates they offer normal customers.
  • Buying a car? Check Bankrate.com or lendingtree.com to see what interest rates are in your area. If you come prepared, you will know if that "great deal" is really so great.
  • When buying a car, look online for manufacturer incentives. Watch out for the "great deal" that either doesn't take advantage of them, or only passes on part of the savings.
  • Trading in an old car? Often dealers will raise the price of the car you buy to make up for the trade–in value. Try not to mention a trade–in until after you have agreed on a price.
  • Consider selling your old car independently rather than trading it in. You will usually get more for it, often enough to make up for the hassle.
  • Never hand over your trade–in keys before signing the paperwork and holding the keys for your new car. Otherwise, it might be held hostage to try to pressure you into signing something with less favorable terms.
  • When buying a car, always ask to see the price breakdown. Otherwise it is easy to slip in unexpected charges.
  • When you go to a dealership, come prepared with a print out from kellybluebook.com or another reputable site, so you know what the value of the car really is.
  • If a car dealer puts "advertising" costs in the final breakdown, challenge it. Advertising should come out of their profits, not your pocket.
  • When buying a car, focus on the total cost rather than the monthly payment. Payments can be stretched out, making you feel like you are getting a great deal when really you are paying more over time.
  • Never drive a car home before the financial paperwork is approved. Otherwise, the lender may call claiming your funding fell through to get you to agree to less favorable terms.
  • When buying a car, ask about the dealer's return policy and get any information in writing.
  • Check the math on any financial documents when buying a car. Even little mistakes can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars in the long run.
  • Yes, you have heard this before but do not forget the old rule: When negotiating for a car, always be willing to walk away!
  • Always try to test drive the car in the types of roads and conditions you will use it in. Ask the dealer if they have a program allowing for test use overnight.
  • If high–pressure sales tactics at a car dealership make you feel uncomfortable, leave. That is a red flag.
  • When buying a car, beware of being passed to a "closer" or "manager." The closer’s job is to try to sell you "extras" and ensure the best deal for them, not you.
  • Looking for a new car or worried about an old one? Check out autosafety.org for information on recalls, warnings, lemons, and other defects.
  • When buying a car, never sign any contract until the final price has been filled in. Otherwise it might change, and you will have an uphill legal battle to change it back.
  • When buying a used car, ask about any manufacturer warranties that may still be in effect.
  • Lost your electronic car key? Dealers can charge hundreds to replace it. Consider buying a replacement online and having a locksmith program it.
  • Check your tires regularly to make sure they are maintaining air pressure. Deflated tires drastically lower your gas mileage, and increase your risk of a blowout.
  • When buying new tires, read the warranty closely. Most only cover normal damage, not things like glass in the road or potholes.
  • Snow tires have softer rubber, which helps them get more traction, but this means they wear much faster when the weather gets warmer.
  • When you check the air in your tires, don't forget to check your spare too! Nothing is worse than being on the side of the road with a flat spare tire!
  • Always keep a copy of your car registration in a safe place. If your car is stolen, it has the information the police need, but it does no good in the glove compartment!
  • If you buy a product somewhere other than the seller's usual place of business, you may be protected by the Cooling–Off Rule, which gives you 3 days to change your mind.
  • If you dispute a credit card charge, keep records! The company may not charge you for the first $50 if they fail to respond within 30 days of your complaint, even if you lose the dispute.
  • If you lose a dispute over a credit card charge, you can appeal within 10 days. The company can still go to collection, but must include a statement that you dispute the charges.
  • Complaints about a credit card company? File them with your state attorney general and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at consumerfinance.gov.
  • To access your social security statement online, create an account at ssa.gov/myaccount .
  • Find recalls at saferproducts.gov, or visit recalls.gov to sign up for real time updates.
  • Buying a used car? Protect yourself with a free VINCheck report from NICB.org, to see if it has been reported stolen or salvaged. Check the title for stamps of "flood," "rebuilt," or "manufacturer buyback."
  • If you are buying a used car, always verify the mileage with a vehicle history report. Odometer tampering is a federal crime, but some dealers still practice it.
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  • Before throwing away old appliances that do not work, consider checking with local appliance repair shops to see if they can use old appliances for spare parts.
  • Before leaving for vacation, turn down your thermostat (or use a programmable one) to save on energy bills
  • Try to use non–disposable cleaning items such as mops and reusable rags or sponges. You will save money, and the environment!
  • Raise the height on your lawnmower to shade grass roots and keep water from evaporating.
  • Set your lawnmower to mulch grass clippings to cut down on fertilizer costs and keep your lawn healthy.
  • Always check your sprinklers or hoses before setting them to run. Leaks can waste water, and lead to huge hikes in your water bill.
  • If your house or apartment was built before 1978, it might still have lead–based paint on walls and other surfaces. Test before sanding or repainting, especially in out–of–the way corners or under counters.
  • Consider installing insulated skylights or larger windows to allow more natural light into your home to reduce the amount of energy used to light your home.
  • If you have venetian blinds, close them or angle them upwards in warmer months in order to limit direct rays of the sun that heat the house and fade carpets/wood.
  • Travel–sized toiletries can cost upwards of five times as much by volume as regular–sized bottles. To save, try filling reusable containers with your everyday shampoo and conditioner.
  • Every fall, clean your gutters and remember to check for cracks or missing shingles/ tiles on your roof. Better to know early than after a leak starts!
  • Every fall, check caulking around windows, and replace it to prevent drafts from raising your heating bill.
  • In an older home, the most effective way to keep heating costs down is to make sure your insulation is up to standard.
  • Avoid placing hard, thick, or waxy food scraps down the drain. These materials can clog the pipes or damage garbage disposal blades.
  • Save raked leaves to use as mulch around shrubs or vegetables in order to cut down on watering costs.
  • Turn off or unplug holiday lights during the day in order to save energy and help your lights last longer.
  • Have a wood burning fireplace? Check your chimney for dirt and animals every year, and have it cleaned by a professional chimney sweep every few years.
  • Buying energy efficient curtains can block sun to keep your house cool in the summer and block drafts to keep it warm in the winter.
  • Stock up on indoor candles, matches or lighters, flashlights, and batteries for use during power outages.
  • If you don't already have them, install low–flow showerheads and faucets to drastically cut your water bills.
  • If you have an older water heater, consider updating it or buying a blanket or jacket to increase its insulation and efficiency.
  • If you are planning to replace your windows, choosing ENERGY STAR windows to reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to 15 percent.
  • Some electric companies charge a different rate for energy used at peak times of the day (usually summer afternoons). Watch your bill for fluctuations or separately billed "premium" rates.
  • House too hot? Plant a tree. Three trees situated strategically on the south and west sides of your house can reduce your utility bill by $100 to $250 a year.
  • Before hiring a contractor to do work on your house, get at least three (3) written estimates from different contractors to verify what work needs to be done.
  • Always make sure contractors have seen what they are renovating, and have put down their estimate in writing. This helps avoid misunderstandings or unexpected expenses.
  • Avoid a contractor who asks for payment in full in advance. Only pay upon completion or at various stages of completion.
  • Try to avoid paying a contractor any money until completion in order to help ensure that work will be completed as promised.
  • Before signing a contract for work to be done on your house, make sure all the work needed is listed in the contractor to avoid unexpected costs for "changes" and "extras."
  • Watch out for scammers after natural disasters claiming to be from government agencies! Scammers will try to pressure victims into expensive, unnecessary repairs.
  • Beware of contractors offering "great deals" because they are working on a neighbor's house. You might trust the neighbor's judgment, but always check on the company online or with the BBB.
  • Be suspicious of contractors who show up at your door in unmarked vehicles. Most reputable companies know the names on their trucks or vans can be their best advertising, and an anonymous contractor is much more likely to disappear.
  • Beware of contractors who require you to take out your own building permits. It may be a sign that they lack the requisite licenses or insurance to pull the permit.
  • Always ask housing contractors for certificates of insurance. This can save you from unexpected costs and provide a way to learn whether their insurance expires while working for you.
  • Remember that the contractor with the lowest bid may not be the best suited for the job. If an estimate is significantly lower than others, the work or materials may be lower quality or the contract may not cover all needed work.
  • Get recommendations and check with the BBB before hiring a contractor. Word of mouth will tell you more than the largest phone book ad or Google rank.
  • Ask for the names of the contractor's recent customers and call to see if they are satisfied. Did the contractor show up on time, clean up afterward, and perform follow–up service on warranties?
  • For paving or roofing jobs, ask for references for both recent and longer term customers. Most problems with such projects tend to crop up around a year after they are completed.
  • If you are renovating, donate reusable old cabinets, doors, plumbing fixtures, and hardware to a local charity or building materials reuse center.
  • Don't make the final payment on a contract until you are satisfied with its completion. Once the contractor is paid in full, it can be almost impossible to get the contractor to return to fix any problems.
  • When you make a final payment to a contractor, make sure to get a signed lien waiver to prevent the company or its suppliers from putting a lien on your house.
  • Avoid making payments for contracts in cash. If the contractor insists, make sure he signs a detailed receipt including the date, the amount, and what it was for. Records are your best friend in payment disputes.
  • Make sure all of your pets wear collars with your current contact information on identification tags; if your pets are lost, current tags will help get them back faster.
  • October is one of the best times of year to buy new appliances. Retailers tend to put on big sales as they try to clear out older models to make room for the new before the holiday shopping season begins.
  • You have a right to see the written warranty for any purchase over $15 before you make the purchase.
  • If you have warranty problems, you can file a complaint with the FTC at ftccomplaintassistant.gov
  • If you suspect a company’s wrongdoing, you should contact your state’s consumer protection agency via https://usa.gov/directory/stateconsumer/index.shtml
  • Gather information on disputing medical charges at https://www.healthcare.gov/how-do-i-appeal-a-health-insurance-companys-decision/
  • Your homeowners or renters insurance may cover your losses if you are the victim of theft
  • Be wary of fraudulent phone calls from fake IRS agents telling you to send money to clear up past tax debts.
  • Don’t wait too long to file your taxes – fraudsters steal tax returns by filing under others’ names and social security numbers.
  • Don’t assume that your only recourse for a faulty product is a written warranty —implied and statutory warranties also may provide remedies.
  • With changing tax laws, many of us need to adjust our tax withholding to avoid over– or under–contributing to taxes through our paychecks. Go to irs.gov and use their withholding calculator to see if you need to adjust your W–4s. If you are over–contributing, it is better to have the cash now rather than wait for a tax refund!
  • Be alert that scammers are targeting smartphones via applets, or "apps" that carry viruses and malware that steal your personal information and identity! Only download apps from known sources and consider installing anti–malware protections that work for your particular smartphone.
  • Before buying a townhome or condo, be sure to consider maintenance and association fees in the costs. Also, be very wary of places with roofs or decks in disrepair, swimming pools, or tennis courts because they can require owners to pay high special assessments for replacement, liability, and insurance rate spikes.
  • Buy a generic sign from a home–supply store that says your home has a security system and post it outside of your house. Studies show that this is a great deterrent for thieves, even more effective than alarm company signs that tip thieves off to the information they need to disable the system.
  • It pays to have a small "yappy" dog. They generally cost less than big dogs to take care of (i.e., eat less, less grooming for most, etc.), and do a better job of deterring burglars!
  • Do not hide valuables in the usual places like your bedroom or underwear drawer since that is where thieves look first. Instead, hide them in unsuspected places like a sealed baggie in the back of your freezer or the bottom compartment of a toolbox in your garage.
  • Call to reserve hotel rooms using the hotel's local numbers after 4 or 6 PM. Local hotel managers have authority that the 1–800 number and national operators do not have to give special discounts and release rooms that have not sold out by this time at reduced rates. You may get a luxury suite at a discount rate simply because it would otherwise be vacant!
  • Use cheap and ugly luggage. Luggage takes a beating in airline loading processes, and this reduces the odds of your luggage being stolen or pilfered at airports and hotels.
  • Need a cell phone charger? Check with local hotels. Guests are notorious for abandoning cell phone chargers at hotels, and hotels may be willing to freely or cheaply give them out after a reclamation period.
  • Have your teenage child start a Roth IRA. The contributions are not tax deductible, but the child's tax bracket is likely low and the money can be withdrawn after age 65 tax–free. Putting a little aside will create a nice nest egg over the years while teaching the importance of saving.
  • Before buying a "Daily Deal" or other package special, check to see if it costs less to buy what you really want directly from the seller (i.e.,: It may be cheaper to book a room directly with the hotel than to buy a "deal" that includes dinner vouchers to some restaurant you do not even like!).
  • It may be wise to "unsubscribe" to Groupon and other such sites that send "daily deals" through e–mail if you are prone to purchase "deals" you never end up using.
  • Lower your taxable income and put aside money for medical needs by using your employer's flexible medical care account program, but be sure to use the fund within the allotted year or you lose whatever's left in the account.
  • You may be able to avoid overdraft fees for bounced checks by linking your checking account to a savings account (assuming you have sufficient funds in that account!).
  • You may be able to help thwart fraud by signing up to get free alerts on your phone or e–mail from your bank or credit union to notify you when your account ID/passwords are changed or there are unusual transactions such as large withdrawals.
  • You may be able to lower taxable income and set aside money for commuting expenses by contributing to a transportation spending account, but this is limited to $240 for parking and $125 for other expenses per month for 2012.
  • Inspire yourself to save by going to donotcall.gov and calculating how much even small savings add up over time.
  • Toss spare change in a glass jar where you set down your wallet or purse. It can be fun to see it fill, and even better when you find you have enough set aside for a special night out or perhaps a vacation.
  • Inspire yourself to save by creating a "savings dream board" with pictures and phrases that depict what you want for your financial future.
  • The best strategy for paying down credit card debt and lowering the overall interest charges you pay on that debt is to focus first on paying off the cards with the highest rates. Although it may "feel good" to pay off cards with the smallest balances first, this will result in higher costs over time if those are lower rate cards.
  • If telemarketers continue to call you after you add your number to the do–not–call list, you can file a complaint with the FCC at donotcall.gov or by calling the complaint line at (888) 225–5322
  • Go to ftc.gov to access the Federal Trade Commission's new guide on health topics important for seniors.
  • If your U.S. passport is lost or stolen, go to the U.S. Department of State's website to get information on what to do.
  • Beware of "job opportunities" that require you to pay up–front fees. Some scammers use fake opportunities to get you to enroll in a program that will automatically bill your credit card every month.
  • Get free tax help through the IRS VITA program at if you make less than $50,000 a year.
  • Go to studentaid.ed.gov to find information on how to repay your student loans, and about Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
  • Students entering college should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid ("FAFSA") as soon as possible after January 1 for each school year to be eligible for need–based assistance, and for other grant, scholarship, and work–study opportunities.
  • Go to the National Student Loan Data System's website to gather information from a database of federal student loans if you are interested in attending or are already enrolled in college.
  • Beware that despite other protections under the 2009 CARD Act, retailers can still charge an inactivity fee after a gift card has been dormant for more than a year.
  • Before buying additional insurance to cover your child who is living in a dormitory at college, check to see if your homeowner's policy already provides sufficient coverage for this.
  • Check out what sorts of freebies you can get on your Birthday by going to HeyItsFree.net and FreeBirthdayMeals.org. You may be able to snag things like free coffee, ice cream cones, and even pancakes on your birthday!
  • If you are considering loan consolidation to extend and/or lower student debt payments, it is wise to first gather information at studentaid.ed.gov.
  • Be especially wary before buying something based on Facebook or Twitter advertisements, which rarely provide the full details of the "deal."
  • Watch out for credit card payment processing fees and minimum charge requirements, which have popped up more frequently in the wake of recent credit card regulations.
  • Check your privacy settings, and limit your audience and apps on Facebook at least once a month to keep up with Facebook changes.
  • Be aware that sharing your posts and photos on Facebook with "friends of friends" may expose your information to thousands of people.
  • Be wary of the "buy–one–get–one–free" promos that require you to pay separate shipping because you may end up paying more than if you simply bought two at the store!
  • Gather information on how to protect your online security on the FTC’s new website at onguardonline.gov.
  • Check how websites and apps do in protecting your privacy at privacyscore.com
  • Make sure to check and set all the privacy controls under the ads and apps for your Facebook account, and turn off apps if you want to block your information from such third parties.
  • Airline lose your luggage? Most luggage is not actually lost, just delayed. Contact a customer services agent for an update, but be aware that it may take a few weeks.
  • Don’t put valuable items in your checked luggage. If they are lost, most airlines have a limit on how much they will pay for each bag, and they only pay current, not replacement value.
  • Buying an appliance? Shop around for the lowest prices, then check manufacturer websites for coupons that could save even more!
  • It usually does not pay to buy an extended warranty. You are better off choosing products known to need less repairs (do research!) and paying for any repairs as needed.
  • If you buy an extended warranty, read the fine print! Some only cover specific types of damage, or come with automatic renewal fees.
  • Out of stock? Ask a customer service representative if you can get a rain check, order from a different store, or even order online with free in–store delivery.
  • When buying an appliance, always ask about shipping, installation, or haul–away fees. Fees add up and sellers are often willing to waive them if you ask.
  • Appliance shopping on a budget? Open–box and floor models often sell for hundreds of dollars less, if you don’t mind the dings and scratches from the store.
  • Try to keep student loans less than the starting salary at a first–year job in your field. Otherwise, you might not be able to afford the payments.
  • Student loan debt too high? You can opt for extended, graduated, or income–based repayment, which can stretch out repayment. The downside: You pay less now, but more over the life of the loan.
  • If you need a private student loan, shop around. The school’s "preferred" lender might offer great rates… or donate a portion of the proceeds to the football team. Compare rates and terms to make sure you are getting the best deal.
  • Get pre–approved for a car loan from a bank before you enter a dealership. If the dealer offers better rates, you can always change, but pre–approval gives you negotiating power.
  • When buying a car, look online for manufacturer incentives. Watch out for the "great deal" that either doesn’t take advantage of them, or only passes on part of the savings.
  • Trading in an old car? Often dealers will raise the price of the car you buy to make up for the trade–in value. Try not to mention a trade–in until after you have agreed on a price.
  • Never hand over your trade–in keys before signing the paperwork and holding the keys for your new car. Otherwise, it might be held hostage to try to pressure you into signing something with less favorable terms.
  • When you go to a dealership, come prepared with a print out from KelleyBlueBook.com or another reputable site, so you know what the value of the car really is.
  • If high–pressure sales tactics at a car dealership make you feel uncomfortable, leave. That is a red flag.
  • Browsers update privacy protection regularly. Make sure you are using the latest version of your browser to ensure that you are taking advantage of the latest privacy features.
  • Do not click on attachments or provide personal information with respect to emails sent by businesses or people you do not know; the email may contain a bug that can harvest your personal information.
  • If you aren’t sure about a website, verify its authenticity. Companies like TRUSTe make seals that provide consumers with assurance that a business is legitimate and can be trusted.
  • A website’s privacy policy will tell you if the website shares your information, and who they share your information with. Especially if you are sharing sensitive information, always read the fine print.
  • Anti–virus companies update software regularly to ensure the product protects against the newest viruses. Make sure you are protected by updating the anti–virus program regularly.
  • Clear undesirable cookies on your computer regularly to prevent unwanted tracking.
  • HTTPS prevents others from snooping on your wireless internet connection. Especially when using unsecured wireless networks, look for a lock icon next to the URL indicating HTTPS.
  • Before buying new back–to–school materials, look around your house to ensure you don’t have binders, notebooks, and pens you can reuse from last year.
  • Renting your textbooks is a great way to save money. If you are renting books this school year, watch the "due back" date! Companies often make their money by charging you the price of the textbook or hefty fines if you send it back late.
  • Amazon’s free Amazon Prime trial year for students can be a great way to avoid paying expensive shipping costs when buying textbooks online. HOWEVER, Amazon will automatically enroll you (and charge you) for an extra year of the service when your trial period is over. If you use this deal, mark the trial period end–date in your calendar to ensure you remember to affirmatively end the service.
  • Make a shopping list before you go back–to–school shopping this year to limit impulse buying.
  • Books that are kept in good condition have a higher resale value. This year, cover your textbooks with paper bags or wrapping paper to ensure your books stay in good condition.
  • When purchasing textbooks remember to start early and check prices from several sources. It pays to be an informed consumer!
  • Staples, Office Depot, Walmart, and Target offer to match the price of any deal you find. If you are shopping at these stores and find something you love, use your phone to see what other companies are charging. A quick search could save you a lot of money.
  • Don’t settle for the textbook buy–back offer at your campus bookstore. Do your homework and see what price you can get from textbook companies online.
  • The campus bookstore and online websites are not your only options for buying textbooks! Ask your friends, check campus bulletins, and use social media to see if anyone you know has the book.