Alpha Consumer

March 2008


Television's Money Lessons

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Usually, the main message I get from watching sitcoms is that everyone else has nicer furniture and clothes than I do. Shows seem to almost always feature the well-to-do—perhaps because that's what the rest of us like to look at while we relax. But every now and then, television imparts some useful ...

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TAGS:
television
personal finance

Awkward Topic: Parents and Money

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Parents feel more prepared to give their teens advice on the birds and bees than on investing, according to a study released this week by Charles Schwab. That goes a long way toward explaining why so many kids don't know as much as they could about money management, says Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz,

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TAGS:
money
parenting
children

Manipulating Your Credit Score

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There's been much buzz recently about how easy it is to manipulate credit scores. A handful of companies, some of which advertise on radio and television, promise to improve poor credit scores, which determine how easy and expensive it is for people to take out loans. I recently spoke with Larry ...

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TAGS:
personal finance
credit

Making Beauty Affordable

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Dear Alpha Consumer,

The area where I tend to struggle a bit is health and beauty items. I'm not a manicure/pedicure girl, but I do like to indulge in nice lotions, shampoos, and soaps, especially the trendy organic stuff. Is it just me, or have these items skyrocketed in price over the past few ...

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Playing Hardball With Best Buy

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A reader recently sent me an E-mail detailing her experience with Best Buy's Geek Squad, and it wasn't good. She brought her computer in to be fixed but ended up losing 10 days of work. The Geek Squad manager had given her a $50 gift card for her trouble, but she thought that for all the time she ...

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TAGS:
Best Buy
customer service

Chatty Grocery Store Clerks?

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Listening to the radio this weekend, I heard a new Trader Joe's ad that said not only are store employees—known as "crew members"—more than willing to answer food questions, but they'll also dish on the latest movies and books. They'll even check on the weather for you if you ask. My question: Is ...

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TAGS:
shopping

S&P's New Data Source: Bloggers

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Warning: Your blog may be a source of market intelligence. Standard & Poor's reports that because language collected from blogs over the holidays closely reflected published sales for the period, the provider of financial market intelligence has concluded the following:

S&P believes ...

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TAGS:
Wall Street
blogs

Message to Women: Save

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The Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement has a message for the ladies: Save more money. Because women tend to live longer and earn less, the organization says those of us with two X chromosomes need to put extra thought into saving for our golden years. Here are some of WISER's tips:

• Accept ...

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TAGS:
personal finance
savings
retirement

Life on $7 a Day

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My friend Zack, who lives in New York City, recently told me that on average, he spends only $7 per day on food. I asked him to share his tips, many of which he gleaned from the personal finance blog the Simple Dollar. Here's how Zack saves money on food:

• Buy in bulk. Zack drives to the suburbs in ...

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TAGS:
personal finance
money

Hefty Portions Hurt Waists and Wallets

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As I found myself purchasing a monstrous 24-ounce smoothie yesterday, I had to wonder: When did 24 ounces become a "normal"-size drink? I could have ordered a 12-ounce smoothie, but that was called the "junior" size, which sounded like it was for kids.

Maybe because I write about money all day, my ...

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TAGS:
prices