Next time the “Check engine” light or some other mystery indicator comes on in your car, before you rush to the mechanic in a panic, consider visiting a store like Auto Zone, Advance Auto Parts or Pep Boys. Turns out, these automotive parts stores usually own the computers needed to hook up to your dash and see what the code means AND they’ll often do it for you for free! Other free services at these stores: Battery testing and installation, Fluid and batter recycling, and Wiper blade and lightbulb installation. Some of these stores will even loan you expensive automotive tools for free so you can work on your own car. Love it!
When you see a sale at the grocery store that’s buy-one-get-one free, that usually means it’s actually buy one for 50 percent off. Right! You don’t usually have to buy two, or four —or more— to get the discount. If you want and need the items, great. But if you’d rather buy just one be sure to ask: Is this product really half off? Or do I have to buy two? I love this trick!
Nobody wants to be audited by the IRS, but if you are and you win your case: you may be able to get the IRS to pay your attorneys’ and accountants’ fees. Yes, the IRS writing YOU a check for a change! You can ask for reimbursement if you won the biggest point in your case or the majority of points in your case. You must also be able to show that you cooperated with the IRS at every stage of the case and did not drag out the proceedings. Your litigation costs must be reasonable, usually about $200 dollars an hour for attorneys’ fees, for example. And speaking of reasonable, Thanks to a Texas Court case, the IRS must prove that it’s case against you was reasonable. If it wasn’t, that’s one more argument for you to get compensation!
Last week I talked about the “best” frequent flyer programs. Now let’s talk about the ones with the most availability. Those would be Southwest and Jet Blue, according to an Ideaworks survey. But here’s the surprising one: American Airlines made changes, opened up more seats —mostly to Europe and Hawaii— and now the giant airlines ranks third for available award seats. United is fourth, followed by Delta. Interesting about Delta, since WalletHub considers its frequent flyer program the “best.” For more airlines and more info, I will link you to the report from EasyMoneyShow.com/59.
Airlines with the most frequent flyer seats: www.ideaworkscompany.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Press-Release-127-Reward-Seat-Report-2018.pdf
Financial website Wallet Hub crunched the numbers and decided that Delta Sky Miles is the best frequent flyer program, partly because it’s generous and partly because it has customer-friendly policies like points that never expire. Alaska Air and Hawaiian Airlines came in second and third. Even cooler, WalletHub created a calculator where you can plug in your own travel spending patterns and see which frequent flyer program will work best for you personally. I will link you to the report and calculator from EasyMoneyShow.com/58.
Best Frequent Flyer Program Calculator: wallethub.com/edu/best-frequent-flyer-program/25943/
When you’re trying to choose which type of new or used car to buy, you should check to see how much it costs to insure different makes and models. This is especially true for young drivers. I just checked and if a 17-year-old guy bought a brand new convertible sports car, it could cost more than $1,300 a month to insure because it’s new, it’s valuable and insurance companies think these cars attract more reckless drivers. But if that same 17-year old guy were to buy a used Honda Civic, his bill could be just $650 a month, because it’s a less valuable, more boring vehicle. In other words, just by choosing one vehicle over another, you could save nearly $8,000 a year. So, definitely check before you buy!
Never pack expensive electronics in your checked suitcase because the airlines won’t cover them if they’re lost or damaged. Every airline I know of excludes these from their reimbursements. If you’re carry-on is feeling really heavy, you might be tempted to stuff your laptop or iPad or camera or whatever in the luggage you’re checking so you don’t have to carry it, but resist the temptation. What about travel insurance? Many policies exclude laptops and most limit the reimbursement for lost or damaged luggage to about $200 bucks, which doesn’t cover much. Word to the wise: Keep your fancy electronics in your carry on or leave them at home.
When I decided to call the podcast Easy Money, I immediately thought of the Billy Joel song by that name. My idea was to have somebody create a song that would remind people of the Billy Joel hit from the 80’s without actually ripping it off. So I went on Fiverr, the freelance marketplace, and paid a Russian guy who was too young to have heard of Billy Joel $5 bucks to create the song. It was sooo bad that I ended up buying some great stock music instead! So today’s top tip is that you get what you pay for!
The Federal Trade Commission has a rule called the Prompt Delivery Rule. It says that when merchants promise to ship something within a certain time, they must do so. If they cannot, they have to notify the customer of the delay, provide a revised shipment date, and explain your right to cancel and get a full refund. If the merchant did NOT promise a particular delivery date, then they must ship you your purchase within 30 days or notify you of the delay and give you a chance to cancel and get a refund. Knowledge is power, so now you know!
The FBI wants you to know that internet-connected toys, sometimes called “smart toys” are vulnerable to hackers. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center lists a litany of problems in its release, saying strangers can pinpoint your address, get childrens’ names and birth dates, download your son or daughter’s photo and even listen in on your conversations and record your child’s voice. In Europe, where they worry more about new technologies, some countries have even warned parents to destroy toys with proven vulnerabilities. What to do? One solution is to skip high tech internet-connected toys altogether. But if you are a tech-friendly parent, there is another option: Look for internet-connected toys that are certified by the FTC’s Safe Harbor Program, which means they are guaranteed to protect childrens’ privacy. I will link you to that program from EasyMoneyShow.com/53.
FTC Certified internet-connected toys: www.ftc.gov/safe-harbor-program