Prudent Money

Blog Topics

<-- Back To Main Blog Page
Black Friday Do's and Don'ts - From a Consumer Savings Expert

Andrea Woroch, a nationally-recognized shopping expert for Kinoli Inc., sent me some great dos and don'ts for Black Friday shopping.  I thought you could benefit from them. 

    • DO shop with a plan & bring cash. The most dangerous part of Black Friday isn't the potential stampede; it's the overwhelming number of offers that tempt people into overspending. Unprepared shoppers can end up with bags filled with items they didn't intend to purchase. Always shop with a list and use cash if you know you can't control credit card spending.
    • DON'T assume you're getting the best price. You must research prices before Black Friday since stores often inflate the original price to make deals and discounts look like a better value. Some products are made specifically for Black Friday and do not have all the bells and whistles you expect, so be sure to research desired products by model number and not just brand name and size.
    • DO track prices throughout the day. To avoid overpaying, track price drops using PoachIt and then request a price adjustment if you find your purchase was sold for less later in the day. Citibank card members don't have to do any work -- the card will track price drops and sales after purchase for you and help you get a credit.
    • DON'T forget to load up your smartphone with apps to save more. Target's latest app points you to specific aisles where you can find the items on your list, while Coupon Sherpa provides extra savings from hundreds of retailers. Set sale alerts on the products you purchase with SnapUp as you can request a price adjustment and use OneReceipt ensures you don't lose important purchase slips.
    • DO use gift cards to save more money. Most people think of gift cards as just that: gifts. However, you can use discount gift cards to save more money on Black Friday. Once you map our your shopping route based on the best Black Friday offers (review circulars online in advance), search for discount gift cards for extra savings like 10% off gift cards to Home Depot.
    • DON'T forget to review return policies. Does the store charge a restocking fee? Are there return shipping fees? How long do you have to return? Will you get cash back or can you only receive store credit? All these are important questions to ask before buying anything, especially during a hectic time like Black Friday when impulse buys run rampant.
    • DO know what to buy and what to skip. Not every item on Black Friday is a good deal, so know the best and worst buys and purchase accordingly. Best buys include off-brand TVs, video games, Apple products (from third-party retailers) and small kitchen appliances. The worst buys to skip are winter apparel, jewelry and holiday decor. These items will get cheaper as the holiday season progresses, so it's best to hold off for better deals.
  • DON'T pay more to get free shipping. You can get your hands on the same doorbusters online and beat the crowds, but beware of those free shipping deals. If there's a minimum required to qualify for complimentary delivery, don't add more to your online cart. Instead, opt for free in-store pick up or sign up for free two-day rush shipping trials, like the free 90-day trial of Shop Your Way Max from Sears and Kmart.


Just because you can Get Credit, Doesn’t Mean you Should

By Bob Brooks


Since the Great Recession of 2008, so many have been locked out of the world of credit.  What was easy to get years earlier, has become almost impossible.  Consumers spent many years building up debt and developing very bad habits with money.  Then for most the credit situation became so bad that they maxed out their credit limits with no prospects of getting new credit lines.

Well, that has all changed.  A credit card companies are aggressively lending money to sub-prime credit borrowers.  These are borrowers with credit scores lower than 660.  Now, those who have been banished from the world of credit are able to start applying and using credit cards again.

According to this CNBC report:

“Through July of this year, banks handed out cards to 9.8 million subprime consumers, a six-year high and an increase of 43 percent from the same period last year. Another 7.8 million cards have been issued to subprime borrowers by retailers this year, up 13 percent from 2013 to an eight-year high.”

So, is this a good thing?  Yes and no.  For those that learned a very valuable lesson and have no desire to go down the dangerous road of credit card debt again, this could be a useful thing.  After all, credit cards when used wisely are a good financial tool.

Then there are those credit addicts who have been sober all of these years.  They will get credit simply because they can get credit.  However, that doesn’t meant that they should.  Handing over a new shiny credit card potentially ignites years and years of pent up bad credit habits only to land them back in the predicament they had experienced in previous years.

Yes, credit card companies are banking on it.  The greed of the credit industry is back in full force.  However, this time around, there is a higher probability that this not only hurts the consumer with no self-control but also increases losses for the credit card companies when these latest issued cards go into default.

The addict and the supplier.  Will either ever learn?


OBAMACARE: Take from the Rich Give to the Poor - Proof is in the Numbers

By Bob Brooks

November 17, 2014

It is a little early to determine how premiums will look for the new Obamacare. The rates were just released on November 15th as the window opens for the second round of enrollments for socialized healthcare. Analyzing the numbers and getting a completely accurate (non-Washington) look at real premium increases is an enormous task. I doubt we would ever get the real truth.

As you would imagine, they are really spinning this story in Washington stating that the premium increases on average were lower than expected. The reality is that your premium depends on where you live and how wealthy your state or city or county might be.

I found this interesting because this illustrates socialism at its best. I will let the preliminary numbers speak for themselves.

Let's look at two states in particular:

According to figures from, Alaska shows the highest year-over year increase in prices of any state and Mississippi had one of the largest price declines.

If you look at a list of wealthiest and poorest states, this starts to make sense.

Alaska is listed as #2 in average income and Mississippi is listed as 51st on the list of average income. Socialism anyone?

I will give you another real time example. We are fortunate to live in the booming Dallas/Fort Worth area. I received my premium increase for my Affordable Care Act Plan over the weekend. It was a mere 17.9% increase over last year.

Of course, to really thoroughly see this in the numbers, one has to have ALL of the numbers and data at their disposal to really see for sure. I would suggest that few could get their hands on the top of data needed to demonstrate the powerful movement of socialism at work.

Wealth re-distribution at its best. Get accustomed to it because socialism will continue to subtly infiltrate our country.

Dave Ramsey: "The Past says you will make 12% a Year Going Forward!" Really?

by Bob Brooks

November 13, 2014

Nationally Syndicated Talk Show Host Dave Ramsey has made a startling claim early this year. He claims that you should expect an average annual return of 12% on your stock market investments going forward. In a piece that he wrote, he says the following:

“When Dave says you can expect to make 12% on your investments, he’s using a real number that’s based on the historical average annual return of the S&P 500. The S&P 500 gauges the performance of the stocks of the 500 largest, most stable companies in the Stock Exchange. The current average annual return from 1926, the year of the S&P’s inception, through 2011 is 11.69%. .

So you can see, 12% is not a magic number. But based on the history of the market, it’s a reasonable expectation for your long-term investments. It’s simply a part of the conversation about investing.”

Then he makes this dangerous claim:

“In investing, we can only base our expectations on how the market has behaved in the past. And the past shows us that each 10-year period of low returns has been followed by a 10-year period of excellent returns, ranging from 13% to 18%!”

My main problem with him cavalierly making this claim is the disregard of his role as a trusted educator versus making that claim while concurrently educating investors on the psychology of investing. In other words, give the upside if you believe that. However, explain the traps that could go along with thinking that way.


When it comes to investing, investors have the deck stacked against them primarily because of the whole psychology that surrounds investing. Here are some examples of beliefs that could form just from him making this statement:

If the market is going to make 12% a year, then…..


I don’t have to worry about risk if I am going to get that average.

I don’t have to pay as close attention.

Great now I don’t have to worry about running out of money.

I can put my investments on auto-pilot.

If the market is going down, it is ok.

If Dave Ramsey said it, then it must be true.


It is the human nature psyche of most investors to want to just assume that everything is going to work out. They don’t want to make high stake decisions. They don’t want to make mistakes. If the market is going to make an average of 12% return, then there isn’t anything to worry about.


Does the past guarantee the future? Actually, if you talk to regulators (individuals that he does not have to comply with) they would say NO and they make sure every investment piece has the statement printed on it – Past investment results don’t guarantee future results.


Well, no one can guarantee that to be the fact. Further, it is a dangerous assumption to make. Do you think that in a world where global debt is 158 TRILLION dollars that the future is going to look a lot like the past? I wouldn’t bet on it. Second, it is an even more dangerous mind sight to continue once you get close to and are in retirement.


What would possess someone with his influence to make that general of a statement is beyond me. I would recommend keeping your assumptions much lower. If there really is pie in the sky and he is right, at least you will be surprised on the good side versus being blindsided by reality.



Who Really Loses When it Comes to Credit Card Security Breaches?


By Bob Brooks

November 10, 2014


2014 has been the year of the data breach.  This year more than ever we have seen high profile retailers have their customer databases compromised and information stolen.  In fact, it was just announced this morning that the Department of Homeland Security experienced a data breach with the firm that handles their background check.  Unfortunately, this is probably going to be a trend going forward.  There are three losers in any security breach.  However, you might be surprised at the order of loses.  WE will start with #3:

(3)          The Retailer

The retailer’s liability comes along with the public relations hit it takes. For example, the news that Target had a data breach might make customers think twice before shopping there again. However, even with this liability, it is lessened due to the fact that the consumer is typically unaware that it even happened.  Most people are not informed

(2)          The Consumer

You might think that the consumer doesn’t take the hit.  However, they could take a huge hit.  Most will not take the action necessary to prevent their personal information being used in the future.  Thus the unexpected consumer could easily become a victim of fraud way down the road when the security breach is merely a forgotten thought.

(1)          Credit Unions

This is astonishing.  According to the Credit Union National Association, it cost 60 million dollars to Credit Unions just to cover costs associated with the Home depot security breach and another 30 million dollars to handle the Target Security Breach.  The sad thing is that it was not even the credit union’s fault that it was the retailer’s lack of security that caused it in the first place.

Remember a security breach comes in two flavors – stolen credit/debit card information versus social security information.  If it is just stolen credit/debit card information, have the credit card issuer cancel the card and issue you another. Always watch your card, security breach or not, for unauthorized charges.

If it is a breach that involves social security information being stolen, it is imperative to at the least sign up for 3 credit bureau credit monitoring and monitor your credit reports like a hawk or get the best protection through a credit freeze or your credit reports. 

Realistically, the best strategy is to do all of the above regardless if your personal information has been compromised.  The way things are going… is only a matter of time.


If you want to consult with Bob as a financial advisor, be sure and contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 972-386-0384.


<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>

Page 1 of 53