It pays to put yourself first

MONDAY, OCT. 13, 2008

We don’t have a barter economy here. But that doesn’t mean you can’t drive a hard bargain, whether you’re paying for a new car or setting the interest rate on your credit card.

That’s the top piece of advice for consumers from Vicki Lee Parker, a consumer columnist for McClatchy, who compiled her top tips after nine years on the job:

Haggle. “This is by far my favorite,” she writes. “It has helped keep more money in my pocket than any other. This is a skill I had to practice. But having mastered it, I have used it whenever possible – with plumbers, movers, store clerks, car dealers, banks and credit card companies. I’ve learned that most things and services are way overpriced and, of course, negotiable.”

Check for discounts. Whether it’s because of your age, your workplace, organizations you belong to or other reasons, there are lots of discounts out there.

Complain more. Don’t let it slide when businesses mistreat you and fail to deliver what they’ve promised.

Read the fine print. Know what you’re signing.

Do your homework and get second opinions.

Get help. Whether it’s taxes or legal advice, know when to hire a pro.

Save for a rainy day.

Plan for retirement. It is coming.

Shop online more.

Maintain your car.

Ads, ads everywhere

The next time you fly, you might notice ads popping up in places you’d never seen before. Like the barf bag. Or the tray tables.

Airlines are looking to pull in more money in all kinds of ways, and selling ads inside the airplane cabins could be the next trend – at least for some smaller carriers, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Spirit Airlines Inc., a Florida-based carrier, recently began selling ads on overhead bins, tray tables and cabin walls.

“We could have someone else do napkins or the drink cart,” said Misty Pinson, the airline’s spokeswoman. “We’re talking about everything and anything, from drinking cups and soap dispensers to potentially even advertising on barf bags. You’ll be surprised how many people take those with them.”

Give up the view

If you’re trying to cut down on your heating bill this winter, consider moving the furniture you use most away from windows.

That’s a suggestion from Debbie Simock, an Avista spokeswoman. She said you’re more likely to notice cold air when you’re near windows, so rearranging the room to put your couch next to a wall might pay off in comfort over the coming months.

In the bag

The plastic tube bags that your newspaper sometimes comes in can be reused in a variety of ways, according to frugal living blogger Erin Huffstetler.

Here are three of her suggestions for giving the bags a second life: pooper scooper bags, work gloves, and travel bags for liquids or other items.


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