Picking up Nickels

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Stop & Shop: Win Free Groceries for a Year

The Stop & Shop grocery chain is rolling out a promotion with the chance to win free groceries for a year (i.e. $5,200 in store gift cards) along with a "new look", including a redesigned logo:

Join us for great changes in the store - and great prizes online! Like a chance to win free groceries for a year! Plus instant wins: Stop & Shop gift cards worth $5 to $25. There's a new winner every week for 12 weeks, so be sure to try again each week!

The promotion started on 8/22/08 and ends on 11/14/08. You can submit an entry online every week for 12 weeks to increase your chances of winning.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

August 2008 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on August 11th, 2008:

Asset July 2008 August 2008 Change
Checking 278 230 -48
Money Market 25,723 21,463 -4,260
Savings Bonds 14,750 14,802 52
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 98,235 104,724 6,489
Brokerage 106,129 113,924 7,795
401k 93,039 93,654 615
Roth IRA 29,768 30,588 820
SEP IRA 174,248 179,530 5,282
529 Savings 36,182 37,657 1,475
Credit Card 0% Balance Transfers 0 0 0
Total Assets $578,352 $596,572 $18,220 (3.15%)

The S&P 500 index has reversed course yet again since my last update, increasing by 5.31% during that time:

(chart courtesy of msn.com)

Great to see that oil prices continued to fall to $113 per barrel today.

Moneywise, my only move of note this month was putting a little cash in the 7 month Bank of America CD @ 4.11% APY CD deal. Other than that, I'm hoping that energy costs continue to decrease as we approach the winter heating season. When small credit unions are offering things like home heating loan programs to help cash-strapped homeowners pay their heating bills, every little bit helps...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Happy 2nd Blogiversary to me!

Today is the second anniversary of this blog!

I'd like to thank all of the visitors out there for your comments and links. Please keep 'em coming! :)

Monday, August 04, 2008

My experience buying new car tires

It was time to buy new tires for our five year old Honda SUV, so after doing a bit of research (Consumer Reports, hondapilot.org, tirerack.com, etc.), I decided to bite the bullet and spend the extra cash for a set of highly regarded Goodyear Fortera TripleTread tires.

I've purchased my last few sets of car tires at tirerack.com, so that was the obvious place to start my search for the best price. At tirerack.com, my cost for a set of four tires ($141 each) shipped to my front door was $645.04. Once I figured in a ~$20 mount/balance/disposal cost per tire at my local garage, I was looking at a total cost of about $725!

For that kind of money, I was willing to make a few calls to local tire stores to see what it would cost to make my purchase from a local tire store. First, I started looking into Sullivan Tire, a regional tire chain. I checked them out at the Better Business Bureau (BBB) web site, and found that they had a satisfactory record. I was also pleased to see that they offer a 5% discount to AAA members.

I requested an internet quote from sullivantire.com, and promptly received a detailed quote via email for $746.08 installed plus tax. Phone calls to their two closest stores surprisingly resulted in two different quotes ($720 & $749), and it was noteworthy that both of the people I spoke to were polite, professional, and really seemed intent on getting my business.

My next stop was Town Fair Tire, another regional tire chain. The first red flag was raised when I saw the unsatisfactory record that the closest Town Fair Tire location had with the Better Business Bureau, apparently earned by ignoring customer complaints brought to their attention by the BBB. I called the two closest stores anyway and was given pretty pricey quotes ($802.80 & $908.87), although they said they would beat the best price I could find by 5%. Both of the people I spoke with used the same scripted sales pitch, which included trying to talk me into buying a different tire that they apparently had in stock. Even worse, one of the people spoke to me very unprofessionally, including walking away from the phone to speak with someone else in the middle of our conversation.

At that point, I called back the Sullivan Tire store that had offered the best price, and said that I was ready to buy now if they would match the 5% Town Fair Tire lowest price guarantee. My man at Sullivan tire agreed, and not long after I had my new tires installed while I waited. After tax, I ended up getting my tires a little cheaper than the ~$725 it would have cost to deal with the tirerack/local garage shuffle. Sullivan Tire also offered free lifetime rotations and checked my SUV's alignment as part of the deal.

My biggest disappointment with this whole process was that old fashioned phone calls saved me more money that buying via the Internet. While the Internet was an invaluable tool with regard to researching tires and places to purchase them, it really didn't help me get the cheapest price.