1 in 4 Auto Shops in Dallas Could Be Overcharging Women for Repair

Photo Credit: AutoServe1

1 in 4 Auto Shops in Dallas Could Be Overcharging Women for Repair

One of the reasons Tony Joe hosts the Special Car Corner edition on Fridays on the Prudent Money Radio Show is so you can learn what to look for and want not to do when it comes to repair jobs on your cars. It can be expensive. This is especially the case when it comes to getting ripped off. Let’s face it – People know very little as it is about money. For car repairs, I would suggest that people know even less.

As a result, you have to trust. Oftentimes, you have to make that call quickly. Car repairs demand your attention immediately. Repairpal.com did an interesting study to see what was really going on.

They had both a male and female customer separately call a random sample of 40 repair shops getting sample estimates on the same types of repairs. They even varied the types of cars they used.

Based on an undercover study that used anonymous calls, here is the shocking truth:

Nationwide, women are overcharged by an average of 8% compared to men.

In big cities like LA, San Francisco, and New York, women are can be overcharged by a whopping average  of 94%.

In Dallas, 25% of auto shops routinely quote higher prices for women clientele.

In a study conducted across multiple cities by RepairPal —the largest car repair estimator website and nationwide network of certified repair shops—women are still struggling to get the the same fair price for repairs at the auto shop.

Other Findings:

While not a single shop denied the male participants a quote, an astonishing 18 shops told our female participants to bring their car in to the shop for an estimate.

Key Takeaway – Ladies if they won’t to give you a quote over the phone, go somewhere else.

When women called the shops to inquire about repairs for their BMW, the shops routinely gave them a higher quote than the men who called about the same car issue.

Tony Joe Rule of Thumb – If the quote is $500 or more get a second opinion.

The most likely scenario is that shops are taking advantage of what they believe to be a general lack of automotive knowledge amongst women. It’s stereotypical and unfair, to say the least.

Key Takeaway – There is a reason repair shops are one of the least trusted businesses and have the most amount of complaints.

Repairpal.com is an excellent source for getting a good idea of what is a fair estimate. Do a little homework. That is not advice only for women.  That goes for the guys as well. I know that I know nothing about what the true costs are for automotive repair.

How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off by an Advisor

Photo credit: CNBC.com “The top 10 investment scams”.

How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off by an Advisor

Investor scams are alive and well. I am amazed by the number of bulletins I receive through email that detail investment scams that are uncovered. Fortunately, if you know what to look for, you can avoid being ripped off. It is a matter of looking for red flags.

Red Flag #1 – High Interest Guarantees

When you are looking at a guaranteed rate of return, it should be in line with other guaranteed returns. If it is higher than the going rate for guarantees, there is a risk of some sort. A local financial advisor was brazenly advertising a 12% guaranteed rate of return backed by real estate.  Now keep in mind, the best guaranteed rate is around 3%. Of course, it was later discovered that this advisor was running a Ponzi scheme.

Red Flag #2 – Writing a Check Directly to an Advisor or Investment Company

Not to say that in every instance when you write a check to an advisor you are getting ripped off. However, just about in every scheme that is busted by regulators a check was written to an advisor. It is a red flag. What keeps that advisor from depositing that check into his or her bank account?

Red Flag #3 – Investing in Unregistered Investments

Regulators raise a huge issue with advisors that sell unregulated investments. Not to say that in every instance when unregulated investments are involved you are getting ripped off.  However, just about in every scheme the investments are unregulated.

Red Flag #4 – High Return, No Risk

This is good rule of thumb for any scam as well as for any legit investment. Anytime an advisor promises big returns with no risk, something is wrong.  Either they are running a scam or they are just trying to sell you a bad investment. A legitimate advisor will tell you of the pros and the cons of any investment. Every investment has pro and a con. Even a money market has risk.

Red Flag #5 – Just Because It Is on the Radio Doesn’t Make it Legit

You would think that if an advisor was going to break the law they would do so in secret. Thus, if an advisor is on the radio talking about investments with big guaranteed returns, it must be legit. Right? Unfortunately, that is not the case. Often a scam artist will be bold enough to talk about the scam on the radio as well as on their company website. There are two advantages for the scam artist. First, talking about it in public gives it some legitimacy. Second, common sense would tell you that no one would break the law that publicly and risk getting caught. This is how investors get ripped off.

The bottom line is that investment scams are happening all of the time. Unfortunately, investors just assume that it is not the case and blindly give these scam artists their money. Look for the red flags so that you can make better decisions with His money.

Great Resource for College Financing and Funding – Every Parent Should Read This!

Great Resource for College Financing and Funding – Every Parent Should Read This!

I wanted to take the opportunity to make you aware of a new Prudent Money Contributor, John Hupalo. John is an expert in the area of college funding. Just this morning we did a general show on financial aid which will air Thursday, February 9. In March we are going to do a show exclusively on student loan debt, how to eliminate it, and how to effectively use it. He is really committed to free education. I wanted you to be aware of these resources:

YouTube Channel for My College Corner

Website – www.inviteeducation.com

Book – Plan and Finance your Family’s College Dreams – The most comprehensive book on funding college education that I have come across.  Any parent with kids that are going to college need to be reading this book.

Do you have a financial aid or student loan question? Send it to the Ask Bob resource and I will get it to John. He is 100% available to help any of the Prudent Money readers or listeners in this area.

Also from time to time, I want to share with you some of the great information that he is writing about. This week I wanted to share with you his article on co-signing student loans. John says this is the best way to help your kids borrow for college.  Here is the link!

Eliminating the Johnson Amendment Could Be Bad for the Church

Eliminating the Johnson Amendment Could Be Bad for the Church

Lyndon B. Johnson was a brilliant politician (that isn’t necessarily a compliment). In 1954, he single-handedly removed the power of the church from politics with the passing of the Johnson amendment. The Johnson Amendment eliminates the ability of the church to endorse a political candidate from the pulpit. If a church were to endorse or oppose a candidate, they would risk losing their non-profit status.
Of course, you never know why a politician does what he or she does. Mostly those actions are political/self-serving in nature. From a political standpoint, passing legislation that (eliminates free speech) diminishes the power of the church was political genius (once again not a compliment).
Now President Trump wants to get rid of the Johnson Amendment. In fact, recent Republican legislation that has been introduced does just that.  Of course, they want to put a “limit” on how much money can exchange hands in terms of support. That is what I love about politics. On the surface, they write legislation that looks like it protects people from themselves. In reality, I am sure that it will be legislation that has many backdoors. If they really wanted to do this right, they would write it this way:
Churches can endorse or oppose political candidates from the pulpit. However, they cannot donate money or receive money as a gift for support in any shape or form. If that does occur, they automatically lose their 501(c)(3)status. Further, Pastors, church staff, or leaders cannot serve in any positions appointed by the politician that their church supported.  
Is it a good idea to give the Church a voice in politics when there is gray language on the money/favor part? My former pastor had a saying. If your head is made of butter, don’t sit by the fire. Pastors and people in general are all human. Temptation is temptation. Why place that kind of temptation on Pastors? Politicians are known for buying support. Churches need money. IT is human nature to rationalize anything. Pastors with the wrong motivations or rationalizations could throw their support behind a candidate for favors.
The reality is that politics and church are a bad idea if you don’t remove the money/favor part of politics. I wonder if they would even be spending time on the Johnson Amendment if it provided no potential financial benefit and favors? I apologize in advance for the cynicism.
I appreciate what President Trump is trying to do. At the same time, with politics as usual, I think it is a situation loaded with landmines.

Valentine’s Day Offers on Coupons.com

 Photo Credit: Ninja Marketing

Valentine’s Day Offers on Coupons.com

Do you know what you are getting your Valentine this year? How about a few ideas and save some money in the process. Coupons.com is a great resource for discounts. Look below at all of the money saving offers.

Current Offers:

  1. John Hardy –  Free Artisan-Crafted Chocolate with Your Order + Complimentary Shipping & Returns
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                                     30-40% Off Valentine’s Day Online Only Deals

                                    $75 off a Jewelry Purchase of $299+

  1. SendFlowers.com – Up to 50% off Sitewide
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  3. ProFlowers – Up to 40% Off Valentine’s Day Flowers & Gifts

                                   20% Off $39+ on Valentine’s Day Flowers and Gifts

  1. Zales – 25% Off Love Knot Jewelry
  2. Sears – Extra 15% Off Fine Jewelry

                       Up to 50% Off Valentine’s Day Plush Disney Dolls & Animals

  1. Clinique – Valentine’s Day Gift Set for Only $49.50 with Any $29.50+ Purchase
  2. 1800Baskets – Valentine’s Day Gifts! 20% Off Site wide
  3. FTD Flowers – Exclusive – 25% Off Sitewide
  4. Shari’s Berries – 20% Off $39 Valentine’s Day Strawberries & Sweet Treats

                                        Up to 30% off Valentine’s Day Strawberries & Gourmet Gifts

  1. Macy’s – 25% Off Go Red Sale

Financial Hurricane on the Horizon?

Photo Credit: EM_Equity by Michael Snyder on https://emergingequity.org

I usually don’t send out my client letters that I write. I am making an exception because of what I am seeing. Watching what is happening in the stock market is like watching the formation of a category 5 hurricane. The thing you have to remember about hurricanes is that one minute they can look ominous and the next minute they can fizzle out turning into a tropical storm. At the same time, if there is a category 5 hurricane forming you need to pay attention.

As I have said time and time again on the Prudent Money Radio Show, you have to pay attention to the environment. That is the only way you can judge risk.

Everything is literally in place for a big move and I don’t believe it will be a big move up. The evidence is so overwhelming that at a minimum we should see a 15% to 20% decline. One word of instruction with this blog piece. Oftentimes people don’t think that they can understand information about the market. If you just read through this piece you can get a real good idea of what I am writing about. If you have any questions, contact me below.

Let me start with something that I wrote in my last letter.

These statistics came from John Mauldin’s newsletter. The statistics show that at the minimum a decline of some sort is on the horizon. Here are the numbers – bear in mind these are about 30 days old.

It has been 116 days since we had a 5% correction. (decline)

Since 1928, the average number of days before a 5% correction occurred was 50.

We have been 210 days without a 10% correction. Since 1928, the average number of days before a 10% correction occurred was 167.

It has been 1955 days since we suffered a 20% correction. Since 1928, the average number of days before a 20% correction occurred was 635. In secular bull periods the average number of days was 1105. In secular bear periods the average number of days was 486.

Here is the concern about a multi week decline. I saw an article where a Wall Street Analyst who is never negative about anything was predicting a “nasty decline.” The blurb caught my attention because if this guy sees something negative it must be something. The article started off with some commentary and then he is quoted as saying that “he sees a nasty decline of -5%.” Seriously?  -5%?  A nasty decline in my book would be anything over -20%. This is a perfect illustration for my point.

It has been so long since this market has run into trouble that any type of decline is going to feel like a nasty decline. The media is going to over dramatize it. Thus, a -5% decline could easily turn into a much larger decline.

The Megaphone Pattern – Moment of Truth

The stock market goes up and down creating patterns. If you study these charts like myself, you are always looking for patterns especially patterns that are repeated from the past.

There are occasions where you can identify a current pattern that might have occurred decades ago. Why does the stock market move in patterns and repeat those patterns? I have no idea. Some would say it is the beauty of the market while others would call it the mystery of the market.

If you look at the chart, you will see that in the 70’s the stock market (Dow Jones) traced out a pattern that looks like a megaphone.

There are 7 points that make up the pattern. The points consist of lows and highs of the stock market. Today, we are tracing out the same pattern. However, today it is a much larger pattern. In the 70’s it was a 12-year pattern. Today, it is already 18 years and counting.  Now take a look at the current pattern.

If this is playing out again, then we are at point 5 heading for point 6. In the 70’s that drop from point 5 to point 6 was roughly a -45% decline. Today, unfortunately, it translates to a much larger decline.

Current Information About the Megaphone Pattern

Here is the newest information about the pattern. Ironically, point 5 occurred in January 1973 after hitting an all-time high. Today, if this is playing out, point 5 is at an all-time high and is also happening in January. However, there is something else that could be similar. At point 5 in the 70’s the Stock Market rose above the top of the megaphone pattern and stayed above the top of the megaphone for 43 days before it started the decline to point 6. Friday the 27th of January 2017 is the 43rd day outside of the megaphone pattern. That tells me that we are on the clock for resolution of this pattern or invalidation of this pattern.

This pattern is symbolic of a Trump Presidency. He is going to be a boom and bust president.  He has written numerous books and they are really more or less autobiographies. He teaches success by telling stories of his past and detailing out his beliefs. So, since we are in uncharted waters, I have been studying his life to get as clear as an idea what the next 4 years will be about.

If there is one thing about Trump it is consistency. He is the same as he was 10, 20 years ago.  Most politicians who reach the White House do not take risk. It is about staying elected and getting re-elected. Trump is about swinging for the fences (or walls – sorry couldn’t resist). He takes big risks. He is not afraid to fail. He is not into playing politics or being politically correct.  The events of this past weekend offer a good illustration of that point.  It is either boom or bust. I think that the same could be said for the stock market at this point.  It is either boom or bust at this point.

The only thing that will invalidate the megaphone pattern is a very strong bull market move. With the initial weeks of Trump’s Presidency shaping up as it is, I just can’t see it. However, I have been wrong before. If you have any questions of me or how you are invested, don’t hesitate to send me an email at bob@prudentmoney.com or call my office 972-386-0384.


Keep the Faith,


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