Saving

7 Financial Tips for Recent Grads

Key Takeaways

  • Monthly cash flow is king. Developing both short-term and long-term strategies within that balance will develop money habits that can lead to long-term success in life.

  • Budgeting software can be very helpful. But as with retirement calculators, budgeting tools are only as accurate as the inputs and assumptions you plug in.

  • It’s never too early to start saving for retirement.


As the old saying goes: “Give a hungry person a fish and you’ll feed them for a day. Teach them how to fish and you’ll feed them for a lifetime.”

 

Recent grads are transitioning from student life to the workforce, from being focused on their education to focusing on their careers. Every student’s financial situation is different. Here are some tips that young people can use to get their financial lives off to a great start.

 

The facts are frightening:

  •  For today’s college grads, average student debt is almost $40,000.

  • Too many people are on the path to running out of money well before they die.

  • More than half of U.S. adults (including the wealthy) don’t have up-to-date financial, estate and gift plans to protect themselves and their families.

 

This lack of financial knowledge places a HUGE amount of pressure on the individual, their families and friends, employers, nonprofits; as well as on the ultimate safety net of the state and federal government.

 

Don't let you or your loved ones become one of these alarming statistics! Here are seven fundamental financial tips to help the recent grads in your life get off to a good start:

 

1. Create a “grown up” budget. One of the most important transitions for most new college graduates is taking responsibility for their finances—all their finances. With the financial freedom of a new job, it may seem they don’t need to manage their money. But with new expenses, such as rent, utilities and car payments, plus your student loan bills, it can be easy to overspend. A good budget not only gives them a snapshot of income versus regular bills--it provides peace of mind knowing when they can afford a night out or an impulse buy. Software programs such as Mint or You Need a Budget can be a big help.

NOTE: Like the retirement calculators you see online—budgeting tools are only as good as the information and assumptions plugged into them. Encourage the young adults in your life to consult with a qualified financial advisor to help them plug in the right inputs and assumptions.

2. Deal with your debt.  Whether it is from student loans or credit cards, it is important to focus on reducing your debt. Graduating with debt can be debilitating, but having a plan to pay off debt can help grads get back in control of their finances. Focus on paying off debt with higher interest rates first, like credit cards. When possible, make extra payments. Paying off debt early will lower interest charges and can save money over the life of the loan.

3. Retirement planning starts now.  It may seem odd to think about retirement when you are just starting out in the workforce, but in many ways, the first contributions are the most important. Encourage new grads to take advantage of their employer’s 401(k) as soon as they are eligible. Waiting just one year to contribute to your 401(k) could lower the retirement nest egg by up to $100,000. Waiting 10 years could drop their 401(k) by half.

4. Save for emergencies. While often neglected, planning for emergencies should be a priority. Having an emergency fund can help with anything from an unexpected car repair to high medical bills to major household repair to job loss. Always keep three to six months’ worth of normal living expenses on hand. Creating an emergency fund is as simple as setting up a direct deposit from one’s paycheck to a savings account.

5. Upgrade your accounts. Graduation is a good time to reevaluate your bank and credit card accounts. As young adults join the workforce and become responsible renters or homeowners, financial needs will change—A LOT! The checking account they were eligible for as a student may not provide the flexibility or benefits they need now. Check what other account options the bank offers. Be sure to shop around to make sure they have the right accounts, and the right bank, for their new financial situation.

6. Upgrade credit cards. Used correctly, credit cards are an essential tool to establish good credit history. Good credit can lower the interest rate on auto loans and home loans. The credit cards that students are eligible for are generally entry-level cards that have a higher interest rate and fewer rewards and benefits. New grads should look for credit cards that give the most rewards for their normal spending habits and financial goals. If they think they may occasionally carry a balance, they should look for a card with a low interest rate. If their goal is to travel, look for a card that offers plenty of mileage rewards.


7. Hire a financial planner/mentor. New grads might not think they have enough income or assets to use a professional financial advisor, but they’d be surprised to see what they own, what they owe and what they’ll need going forward. Among other things, a planner can help them decide whether to consolidate student loans, whether to save for retirement using a Roth 401(k) or traditional 401(k), how to invest their money, how much life insurance to buy, and so much more.


Note to parents and grandparents:
A great graduation gift would be a one or two-hour consultation with a qualified and competent financial planner.

Conclusion

Life is full of transitions.
Some will be good, others will be a challenge. Having a network of family, friends and financial advisors in your corner will make it substantially easier for new grads to roll with the punches and adjust to their ever-changing life circumstances. As always, I’m here to help if you have concerns about your tuition financial plans.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Time Is One of Your Most Valued Assets

Like any other asset you possess, you must be diligent about protecting it, managing it and sharing it

Key Takeaways:

  • Time management is a critical skill set required to achieve success whether you’re retired, in your peak earning years or aught in the Sandwich Generation.

  • Identify where you are spending your time each day that create the most success and happiness.

  • Identify and remove the time bandits that steal precious hours and minutes from the activities that create the most success and happiness.

  • Always heed the 4 D’s.

 

Overview


As many of you have just completed the annual rite of spring known as last-minute tax planning, procrastination and portfolio rebalancing, now might be a great time to hit the “pause” button for just a second.

Equity markets are at or near their all-time highs, interest rates are near their historical lows, inflation is in check and millions of Americans are expecting tax refunds. So why isn’t everyone racing out to purchase new yachts, cars and horses? Because they’re not all that secure, thanks to newfound uncertainty about trade wars, North Korea nukes the revolving door in the White House and interest rates poised to keep rising.

You probably don’t have time to go luxury good shopping anyway.

One of the most significant challenges we face in today’s fast-paced society is controlling our limited time. If you can develop better time management skills, you will have a leg up on your career, family relationships and/or retirement lifestyle. In addition to life coaches and time management experts, many wealth advisors can help you with time management as well—but it all starts with you.

Getting started on the right time management path

Good time management is a two-step process. First, you must clearly identify activities that only you can do and that add significant value to your day. Second, you must identify the time bandits that steal your limited time from the activities that really matter.

Top 8 time bandits


Here are some of the most common time bandits and remedies we see in our work among successful individuals and retirees.

1. Losing time due to lack of organization (specifically, prospect lists, meetings and personal calendars)
Plan and prepare for meetings, medical appointments media, even consultations with your tax and financial advisors with agendas, on-topic communication and hard stops for every meeting to respect everyone’s time.

2. Discussing market forecasts when all crystal balls are cloudy

As the old saying goes: “Everyone’s crystal ball is cloudy.” Why spend your limited time reading, viewing and participating in conversations related to forecasting?

3. Sending multiple emails instead of engaging in verbal communication
Ever notice a long chain of emails attached to one email? This is a great example of where a scheduled call could save time over a group of people typing email responses. Schedule the call and keep the time short. Avoid sending emails for every communication.

4. Losing time (and important information) to desk clutter
It is difficult to guess how much time is wasted by moving piles of paper around a cluttered office. Searching through piles of desk clutter for the critical information needed for a call or meeting requires time. The time-saver is to move toward an efficient paperless office with a system that still allows you to take files with wherever you go.

5. Browsing the Internet, including social media
Digital media usually starts out with a search for specific information, but it can quickly lead to a deep dark hole of distraction and procrastination. Instead, limit Internet browsing to a certain amount of time per day, much like a scheduled call or meeting. The way things are going, Facebook may be taking up less and less of your time.

6. Implementing technology tools before they are efficient
Attempting to use technology before it is fully installed or before your training is complete is a big time-waster. If it does not work properly, it is a time-waster. Using technology in this way could cause loss of data or excess data retrieval searching. This applies to everyone from busy professionals, to busy homemakers to retirees.

7. Completing administrative tasks
It is easy to drift away from your goals of the day by getting bogged down in administrative tasks that could be accomplished by someone else. I recommend avoiding these tasks by using the following four Ds:

  • Don’t do it if it is not worth anyone’s time.

  • Delegate it to someone else if it is worth doing, but not by you.

  • Defer if it can be done only by you, the wealth manager, but is also a task that can wait.

  • Do it now if it can be done only by you, but it must be done now.

The problem with administrative tasks occurs when we default to “do it now” without considering the other three options above.

8. Reading and replying to email on demand
Email has become one of our greatest tools—when it is properly used. If it is not properly managed, email becomes one of our greatest time-wasters. Successful people are not at their desks waiting to send the next email. I recommend setting aside scheduled time in the morning and afternoon to manage email. The same applies to text messaging. It doesn’t have to be instant! Also, I recommend the following approaches to managing incoming emails:

  • Delete the email without reading it if it is from an unwanted sender.

  • Scan the email if you are unsure of its content, then take the appropriate action.

  • Read the email and determine whether a reply is necessary.

  • Reply to the email only if required.

  • File the email only if it needs to be saved.

  • Save the email if it contains sensitive information.

Conclusion

There is a great deal of competition for your time and attention no matter what stage of life you are in. We have found that the happiest and most successful people determine the most valuable use of their time and avoid the time bandits that prevent their success.

 

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

 

 

Flash Report - What’s Your High-Net-Worth Personality?

Here’s why you need to know:

As a successful person with big goals, you require truly valuable financial advice that maximizes your ability to achieve your most important personal and professional financial objectives.

That means you need to work with professionals who connect with you. Who relate to you. Who understand you well enough to really “get” what you want your money to accomplish and why.

To get advice that works, it’s important to understand your own high-net-worth personality so you can select and work with advisors who are an ideal match.

What is a high-net-worth personality, anyway?

High-net-worth (HNW) psychology is all about understanding what the affluent want from the professionals they work with, as well as the “how” and “why” behind their attitudes and decisions about their money. Developed in the late 1990s, HNW psychology has been verified through the study of thousands of wealthy individuals. It’s also been adopted by elite, forward-thinking financial advisors and other professionals serving affluent individuals and families.

 

Click here to read more:

What’s Your High-Net-Worth Personality-Flash Report

 

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

14 Secrets to Shopping at Costco

Here is a nice article provided by Andrea Browne Taylor of Kiplinger:

 

By Andrea Browne Taylor, Online Editor | Updated April 2017

 

14 Secrets to Shopping at Costco

 

A Costco membership opens doors, quite literally, to a vast selection of bulk-size groceries and household goods selling at discounted prices. But buying potato chips and toilet paper by the case is just the start. The warehouse club also stocks everything from tires and furniture to electronics and jewelry. With so many items to choose from, Trae Bodge, a consumer expert who specializes in smart shopping strategies, says it's critical to shop Costco with a list to avoid overspending.

 

List or no list, shoppers seem to like the savings and selection. Costco boasts 84 million card-carrying members worldwide, and the worldwide membership renewal rate is 88% (91% in the U.S. and Canada). The chain ranks first in customer satisfaction among specialty retailers, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, comfortably ahead of rivals Sam's Club and BJ's Wholesale.

 

Thinking of taking the Costco plunge? Here's what you should know before investing $55 in an annual membership.

 

You Don't Actually Need to Be a Member to Shop

If you’re not ready to commit to a year-long membership, there are still ways to shop at Costco. Members are allowed to bring up to two guests. So if you want to check out the warehouse club to see the selection and compare prices, ask a friend or family member with a membership if you can tag along. Want to buy something? The Costco member will need to make the purchase for you -- cashiers check membership cards at checkout -- but afterward you can simply pay the person back.

If you want to shop on your own without a membership, give that same friend or family member the money to purchase a Costco Cash Card for you. These cards are treated like cash and can be bought for as little as $25 (and go up to $1,000 in value). Non-members can use a Costco Cash Card to enter, shop and pay at any Costco location.

And if you prefer online shopping, anyone can make a purchase at Costco.com. However, the product selection is limited for non-members, and non-members also may face an additional surcharge on orders.

 

Membership Fees Are Going Up

You’ll soon be paying more to enjoy the perks of belonging to the warehouse club. Effective June 1, Costco is raising its annual membership fees between $5 and $10 in the United States and Canada. Fees for all Gold Star and Business memberships will increase by $5, bumping up to $60 from the current $55. A Gold Star card is available to anyone and can be used for personal purchases. The membership includes a free additional household card. The Business membership, available only to verified business owners, permits business purchases and bulk purchases for resale.

The annual membership fee for Executive-level members will see a $10 hike to $120 from $110. In addition to the basic privileges outlined above, Executive members can earn an annual 2% reward on most purchases (up to a maximum of $1,000 starting June 1) that can be applied toward future Costco purchases. Executive-level members also receive discounts on various Costco services including travel services.

Costco says the membership fee increase will affect about 35 million of its members with half of them being Executive-level members.

 

You Can Get a Good Deal on a Casket

Caskets are often the single most expensive item purchased for a traditional funeral service, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The average cost of a casket bought through a funeral home is more than $2,000, but depending on the finish the price can climb as high as $10,000. Costco offers a cheaper alternative.

Costco members in the process of planning a funeral can purchase a casket online through the warehouse club's website. Provided by Universal Casket Company, caskets at Costco range in price from $950 to $1,900. Those interested in buying one must first call the casket provider at the number listed on Costco.com to confirm product, pricing and shipping/delivery details before the order will be processed.

Standard shipping is included in the cost of the casket, but expedited shipping is available for an additional fee. Both the shipping address and the billing address must be in one of the 36 states (plus the District of Columbia) approved for casket sales.

 

The Store Return Policy Is Generous (Except on Caskets)

There isn't a time limit on returns or exchanges on most products sold at Costco. However, big-ticket items such as televisions, computers and smart phones must be returned within 90 days of purchase in order to receive a full refund.

That's still a much more lenient policy compared to other mass retailers that sell similar electronics. This includes Best Buy (most items must be returned within 15 days of purchase), Target (items must be returned within 30 days of purchase) and Walmart (most electronic items must be returned within 15 days of purchase). See our story about Retailers With the Most Flexible Return Policies for more.

Among the few exceptions are alcohol and tobacco, which can't be returned where prohibited by law. Diamonds over 1 carat must be authenticated before a refund is approved. As for the aforementioned caskets? All sales are final unless damage occurred during shipping.

 

You Can Even Return Your Membership

Shopping at a warehouse club isn't for everyone. If, after joining Costco, you decide you aren’t getting the best value on the products you buy or you simply don't shop enough to justify paying the annual fee, you can cancel your membership anytime and get your money back.

All you have to do is visit your local Costco, go to the membership desk and request to close your account. As part of Costco's "Risk-Free 100% Satisfaction Guarantee," your membership will be cancelled and you’ll receive a full (not prorated) refund of the annual fee on the spot -- no questions asked and no cancellation fee.

 

1 in 5 Products Are Costco's Kirkland Signature Brand

About 20% of the items found at Costco are from its Kirkland Signature private-label brand. The product line includes everything from home goods and apparel to food and liquor. You can even buy a 72-pound wheel of Kirkland Signature cheese. Costco strives to make its branded items as good as or better than national brands, going as far as manufacturing its products in the same factories used by national brands. According to Bodge, the shopping expert, you can often save a few bucks by opting for the Costco brand over a national brand. However, compare quality as well as price. In quality testing, Consumer Reports gave low marks to Kirkland Signature toilet paper and facial tissue.

We put prices on a few Kirkland Signature items found at a Washington, D.C., area Costco to the test against similar name-brand products. Here’s what we found: A 30-roll pack of Kirkland Signature 2-Ply Toilet Tissue (425 sheets) cost $15.99, while a 30-roll pack of Charmin Ultra Soft 2-Ply Toilet Tissue (231 sheets) was $21.99. A 48-ounce container of Kirkland Signature Arabica coffee cost $9.49, while the same size can of Folger's Classic Roast Coffee rang up for $9.99. A 12-roll pack of Kirkland Signature Premium Paper Towels (160 sheets per roll) was $15.69, while the same size package of Brawny Paper Towels (156 sheets per roll) priced at $15.99.

 

Some Kirkland Products Are Really Good Values

Many store-branded products appeal to shoppers because they are cheaper than national brands. But cheaper isn’t always better. In an effort to identify some of the best Kirkland Signature products to buy at Costco, we homed in on items that are not only less expensive than national brands but also on par in terms of taste and quality. Here are a few of our favorite Kirkland products.

Kirkland Signature bacon, for example, bested top national brands including Oscar Mayer in testing by Consumer Reports. In a quality study of olive oils conducted by the University of California, Davis, Kirkland olive oil was one of only a few imported oils that met international and U.S. standards. Kirkland batteries might not last as long as name brands, but they’re a better value once you factor in quality and price, according to Consumer Reports.

 

You Can Buy Low-Priced Organic Foods

Costco may not be top of mind for many shoppers when it comes to buying organic foods, but it might be soon. The warehouse club surpassed Whole Foods as the top seller of organic food. Costco sold $4 billion in organic foods last year compared to $3.6 billion at Whole Foods.

We spot-checked Costco's prices on organic items such as milk, brown eggs and salad mix and compared them with prices at traditional supermarkets. Here's what we found: A 16-ounce container of Earthbound Farm organic spring salad mix cost $4.39 (unit price: 27 cents per ounce) at Costco, while a four-ounce bag of Whole Foods' 365 brand spring salad mix was $1.99 (unit price: 50 cents per ounce). That's practically double the price at Whole Foods.

A two-dozen carton of Costco's Kirkland Signature Grade A large organic brown eggs was $6.99 (unit price: $3.49 per dozen), while an 18-count carton of Safeway's O Organics Grade A large organic brown eggs totaled $7.69 (unit price: $5.13 per dozen).

If you're buying staples such as organic milk on a weekly basis, it may make sense to buy it in bulk since organic milk lasts longer than regular milk. Costco had a three-pack of 64-ounce cartons of Kirkland Signature Organic Whole Milk for $11.49 ($3.83 per carton), while at Whole Foods a single 64-ounce carton of Whole Foods' 365 brand organic whole milk went for $3.99.

 

You Can Buy a Car, Too

Costco members on the market for a new ride can take advantage of the warehouse club's auto program, which includes an online car-buying service. Members purchased 465,000 vehicles through the auto program in 2015.

Here's how it works: You search Costcoauto.com for a new or certified pre-owned vehicle. Once you know the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) for your desired vehicle, you can then locate nearby dealers who sell it. You'll be prompted to input your membership information and then be connected with a participating dealer. The dealer will contact you directly to schedule an in-person meeting where they'll provide the Costco member price -- no haggling required. Costco estimates that their member price is typically $1,000 below the average transaction price and varies based on location, desired vehicle make/model, options and accessories selected.

Costco's auto program also allows members to save 15% on automotive parts and services on any of their household vehicles at participating service centers.

 

You Can Fill Up Your New Car With Kirkland Signature Gasoline

With gasoline prices on the rise, a Costco membership can help you score lower prices at the pump. Select Costco locations have on-site gas stations for members that carry store-branded regular unleaded (87 octane) and premium unleaded (91 octane) gas.

During a visit to a Washington, D.C., area Costco location equipped with a gas station, the price of regular unleaded was $1.97 per gallon. Premium unleaded totaled $2.45 per gallon. The cost of regular unleaded gas at a nearby Exxon station was $2.29 (an extra 32 cents), while premium unleaded cost $2.89 at Exxon (an extra 44 cents).

Costco's gas stations are self-service, and there's only one way in and out to speed up transactions. Members can pay using a debit card or Costco credit card. Anyone including non-members can fill up and pay with a Costco Cash Card. Cash and checks are not accepted.

 

Leave the Manufacturer Coupons at Home

Coupons offer shoppers a great way to save. Combining coupons from manufacturers with supermarket sales is a particularly effective strategy to lower your grocery bill. It's also a strategy that won't work at Costco. The warehouse club doesn't accept manufacturer's coupons or discount coupons from outside retailers.

There is some consolation for Costco members: The company issues its own coupons, which can be found in a monthly printed booklet sent in the mail or on Costco.com. Costco's coupons also can be viewed and redeemed either in-store or online via the warehouse club's smartphone app. Recent Costco coupons offered discounts on products ranging from toothpaste to televisions.

 

Leave Your American Express Card at Home, Too

For years, American Express was the only major credit card accepted by Costco. AmEx even backed a variety of co-branded rewards credit cards for warehouse club shoppers including the American Express Costco TrueEarnings Card and the American Express Costco Platinum Cash Rebate card. That exclusive arrangement is no more. Effective June 20, 2016, Costco switched to Visa as its only accepted major credit card.

Costco members who previously used the co-branded American Express card have been automatically transferred over to Citibank’s new Costco Anywhere Visa card. However, it’s up to individual members to decide whether to activate their new cards. Costco will now accept any Visa card, not just the co-branded card from Citi. In addition to Visa credit cards, club members can still use cash, debit or Costco Cash cards to make purchases.

 

Get Groceries Delivered to Your Doorstep

You can order some groceries online at Costco.com, of course, but you might need to wait up to five days for delivery. Faster express delivery in a day or two is available on certain items for an extra charge. But if even a day or two is too long to wait, then consider using an online grocery delivery service that will send a personal shopper to Costco to fill your order and rush it to your front door.

Just keep in mind that the speed and convenience don’t come cheap. A service called Instacart, which operates in 19 states and the District of Columbia, promises to deliver your Costco grocery order in as little as one hour. You don’t even need to be a Costco member. Instacart charges a delivery fee -– the amount varies depending on your order –- plus the prices you pay for your groceries might be higher than what Costco members would pay in-store.

Another service, called Shipt, offers unlimited home delivery of groceries from multiple retailers including Costco for $99 a year. The app-based service aims to be in 50 U.S. markets with more than 30 million households by the end of 2017. In March, Shipt started testing Costco grocery delivery in the Tampa Bay, Fla., area, before expanding the offering to other cities.

 

Buying in Bulk Isn't Always a Good Deal

Buying household essentials in bulk seems like a no-brainer. Not only can you save money but you can also save time by avoiding frequent trips to the market. But unless you're shopping for a large family or group, paying to join a warehouse club solely to gain access to bulk-packaged products might backfire, says Jeanette Pavini, a savings expert for Coupons.com. If the items you purchase in bulk expire or spoil before you finish using them, that's money poorly spent.

In fact, in our story 12 Things You Should Never Buy in Bulk we highlight several staples to steer clear of at warehouse clubs. The two main reasons: Either they have a short shelf life or you can typically find better prices on them elsewhere. Examples of risky bulk purchases include liquid bleach (its effectiveness diminishes after six months), cereal (sale prices at traditional supermarkets are usually less per ounce) and skincare products (they lose effectiveness over time, plus the risk of contamination rises the longer a container has been open).

 

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles. Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

12 Secrets to Shopping at Home Depot

Here is a nice article provided by Bob Niedt of Kiplinger: 

 

By Bob Niedt, Online Editor | March 2017

 

Home Depot is probably the first retailer to come to mind when you’re thinking “ubiquitous big-box hardware store.” The rise of these orange-hued home-improvement centers was a revelation to those who grew up with small, neighborhood hardware stores in the 20th century and who became adult homeowners and DIYers in the 21st.

 

Imagine. Every tool under the sun, building materials, flooring, roofing, lighting, appliances, lawn and garden supplies—all in one cavernous warehouse. Amazing! Home Depot has been a boon to consumers but a bane to the mom-and-pop hardware stores of our youth, driving many out of business and leaving only Lowe’s Home Improvement as its head-to-head competitor.

 

What’s left to discover? Plenty. Here are 12 ways to get more value out of your next visit to Home Depot. Have a look:

 

Go Online Before You Head for the Store

Case in point: Recently, I was in the market for a few plants, some seed and mulch for the yard. Who knew I could land a 16-channel, Q-See 1080p 2TB video surveillance system to oversee my fine landscaping work, with eight bullet, two dome and two auto-focus cameras for only $700--a $500 discount from the full price? This happened to be the online deal of the day.

“These limited [daily] discounts are almost always the best individual deals that Home Depot offers,” says Brent Shelton of FatWallet.com, a deals website. “Shoppers will often get 50% off.”

Once you get to the store, check out the in-store overstock section, which can boast top-brand tools and more at discounts of up to 50%.

Says Benjamin Glaser of the deals website DealNews, “If you’re really lucky, you’ll find a coupon code that will stack on top of existing discounts.”

Hint: Lighting is a big selling area at Home Depot, so bounce over to that aisle. Promotions are often rampant.

 

Look to Price-Match

“Home Depot will price-match any major competitor that has the same item in stock,” consumer-finance expert Andrea Woroch notes. “What’s more, as long as the lower price isn’t a special or sale, Home Depot will beat the competitor by an additional 10%. So it pays to shop with them when you find a better deal elsewhere.”

Just bring in the print ad or pull it up on your smartphone at the register. This may entail Home Depot customer service checking out the competing price. And note: Online purchases are not eligible for Home Depot’s in-store low-price guarantee.

 

Check for Rebates

Before heading out to Home Depot to make your purchase, check the online rebate center to see if you can get an additional discount.

When I clicked on the rebate center, it was loaded with deals on home furnaces and Wi-Fi-enabled smart thermostats.

Often, says Shelton of FatWallet, the rebate center features offers on remodeling and building materials, home appliances and Energy Star products.

“Some of the bigger rebates will get called out on the FatWallet Hot Deals forum, especially during seasonal sales, when Home Depot offers 30% to 40% off major appliance purchases,” says Shelton.

 

Lumber for Up to 75% Off

Handy Dans know a good deal on wood when they see one, especially for small projects.

Toward the back of the cavernous lumber section, Home Depot stores typically have a place for the castoffs: pieces of lumber custom-cut in-store from larger pieces that customers have bought.

You can often buy these castoffs for a song—up to 75% off full price, says Saeed Darabi of the money-saving website MoneyPantry. Check for cracks or warping, but you can often find a bargain.

“The good thing is that even the ‘bad’ pieces are usable because they are either not that crooked or cracked, or they are long and have a few feet of totally fine wood for smaller projects,” says Darabi, who salvaged enough good wood from one trip to the discount lumber section last year to build a flip-top tool stand.

 

Know the Secrets Hidden in the Price Tags

As with Kohl’s, there are secrets in the price tags at Home Depot, too. It pays to know the code.

Any item with a price ending with .06 means it is on clearance, says Darabi of MoneyPantry. A price ending in .03 means that’s the lowest final price for that item. If it doesn’t sell within three weeks, it will be removed from the shelves.

 

Yes, You Can Haggle for a Lower Price

Not every employee has the power to lower prices, but it’s worth a try. Consumer-finance expert Woroch said she scored an additional $50 off a washer and dryer that were already on sale at Home Depot. All she had to do was ask.

“The sales associates usually don’t have the power to give you a better deal, but if you ask to speak to a manager, he or she may be more willing to negotiate with you to seal the deal,” says Woroch. “Use tactics like reviewing [with the manager] recent sales that you missed or upcoming ones that you may qualify for.” Same with Lowe’s, by the way.

 

Already Bought Something at Home Depot? Track the Price

Home Depot stands by its prices – for two solid weeks. If you buy an item from Home Depot, especially something costly, and it goes on sale elsewhere, Home Depot will give you a price adjustment if the transaction is within 14 days of your purchase.

 

Coupons? Really?

Twice a year, customers who have signed up for e-mail notifications or text alerts will get coupon offers good for $5 off store purchases of $50 or more, or for $10 off a $100 buy.

Join the Garden Club, opt in for text messages with exclusive deals, and just by signing up, you’ll score a $5 Home Depot voucher, plus exclusive coupon offers all year round.

Says Darabi, “What I really like about it is that you actually get worthwhile deals. In the past few years that I have been a Garden Club member, I have received dozens of exclusive coupons that saved me anywhere from 10% to 50% on many items. I have also gotten a few free plants and flowers.”

 

Peruse the Paint Desk for Bargains

Just like the Island of Misfit Toys, Home Depot’s (and Lowe’s) paint department relegates mixing mishaps to an “oops” section. There, you’ll find paints that didn’t match expectations or were abandoned by customers who ordered but never picked them up.

So why would you want such rejected paint? Because you can get it for 25% to 75% off, says Darabi. The paints are perfectly fine.

It may not be exactly the color you want, but if it’s for, say, a spare bedroom, closets or other space that’s rarely used, the option just might work at a lower cost.

 

Take Advantage of the DIY Workshops

At every entrance to every Home Depot, there’s a chalkboard with a menu of upcoming workshop sessions in the store (and if you aren't old-school-chalkboard, find the workshops online). These 90-minute sessions provide how-to classes from remodeling pros on home repairs, installation, paint tips and more.

These can save you money or time by letting you know what to buy in advance and how to properly budget a home repair project. After all, it will be much more expensive to bring in a contractor after botching a home improvement project you informed your significant other you could do perfectly fine on your own. (Yes, I’m speaking from firsthand experience here.)

 

Get Free Online Shipping – to Your Home Depot Store

If you see something on Home Depot’s website, you can get it shipped to your neighborhood store at no cost to you. This includes finding something online when it’s out of stock in the store.

Also: “Home Depot sells some online exclusives, but you can dodge the shipping cost by selecting to have the items shipped to your local store for free pickup instead,” says Woroch.

 

Buy Expensive Power Tools at Low Prices

From time to time, Home Depot will offer display tools, or ones that are slightly damaged, at discounted prices. Perhaps there is a scratch or a dent, or perhaps a tool is missing a minor assembly piece. You can save 50% or more compared with fresh-in-the-box prices, says Darabi.

“A few months ago, I picked up a DeWalt DWE7480 contractor’s saw that sells for $399 for around $195,” Darabi says. “The only thing wrong with it was that it was a display item, so it was missing the screws that hold the included wrenches.”

 

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles. Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.