Personal Finance Roundup

Why you’re not beating the market [MSN Money] “As if mutual funds’ plummeting returns last year weren’t bad enough, paying large fees to watch your money disappear just made it worse.”
Don’t get suckered by supersales [Bankrate] “Retailers run sales for one reason — and it isn’t what you think. More often than not, sales merely get you in the door, where stores easily trick you into buying more. That’s the goal.”
The Barter Economy: 14 Great Places to Trade Stuff Online [The Simple Dollar] “Here are fourteen great services for bartering, most of them operating by mail and from the convenience of home.”
Get your spouse to stop overspending [CNN Money] “If you’re careful with money, being married to someone who loves to fling open a wallet can be trying in the best of times.”
Failed Frugality: 5 Clues You’ve Gone Too Far [Wise Bread] “Here are five tell-tale signs that you’ve done yourself no favors in your quest to cut costs.”
FREE MONEY FINANCE (Photo: me and the sysop)

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  1. bibliophibian says:

    From the second link: “And know that most sale prices at or below 50 percent are more likely the true regular price for those items and perhaps no bargain at all.”

    This. This is why I hate shopping. It astounds me when people hear, for instance, a car dealership announcing “Take $8,000 off the price of all 2009 models in stock!” and flock to give that dealership – which has just, for essentially announced, “Hey, we routinely overcharge people by $10K or more, or at least try to” – their money and their business.

    Any savvy consumer knows (especially with something like cars) that you never pay the asking price, so the argument is usually “Oh, come on, just because it’s marked at $20,000 when it only actually cost $10,000, that doesn’t mean they’re overcharging people – it just means they set their prices high enough that customers can negotiate a lower price and feel satisfied that they got a good deal, while the dealership still makes enough money to get by.” And while that’s usually true, I PROMISE you that if you walk into a dealership and point out the new car with the $20,000 sticker and say “Here’s $20,000, plus tax, title, and license,” they’re NOT going to say, “Hey, why don’t we negotiate that price down a little? It’s marked up to start with, you know.”

    Stores/companies do not stay in business by selling things at break-even or at a loss; if they’re advertising something at 60% off, you can be certain that either it was marked up 120% in the first place, or that everything *else* they’re selling is marked up by 75+%. And no matter how good a price seems, no matter how much research I do to compare prices and wait for sales/offers/coupons and negotiate a lower price, I usually still have a ball of sick in my stomach from feeling like I’ve been hoodwinked.

    I have a vision of a Utopia where every product over, say, $5 comes with a label, like the nutritional values labels, indicating:
    $Total Price
    -%Materials
    -%Direct Labor
    -%Executive Salaries
    -(Ratio of Executive Salaries:Laborer Wages)
    -%Packaging
    -%Advertising
    -%Other Costs/Expenses
    -%Profit

    Then, if you are cool with a 120% (or 1200%) profit margin in exchange for the designer name, you can do that… if you want to pay less for the stuff that’s made with cheaper materials, go ahead… if you want to give extra money to the company that pays its employees 1/75th of what it pays its CEOs instead of the company that pays them 1/7500th you know which one to pick…

    *sigh* I know, I know – there are great big holes in my fantasy world. I like them – they let the air circulate.

  2. LafinJack says:

    Also not frugal: smoking.

    At least in Chicago…

  3. Trencher93 says:

    I don’t think “stores easily trick you into buying more” because they don’t need to: I can do it myself. No tricks needed. I need a screwdriver from Sears, I should get out under $5 this time…