3 Ways to Survive
Holiday Shopping

Keep your sanity, maintain your budget and enjoy a happier gift-giving season with these easy-to-follow shopping tips:

  1. Set Limits. Ask your friends and family to set a dollar amount on the gifts exchanged. This is an effective way to ensure you and your loved ones don’t splurge. It’s also a great way to maintain your budget when buying for a large family and a lot of friends.Likewise, consider a holiday gift exchange. Ask your family or friends to write down a few gift ideas. Set a purchase limit. Then, exchange names. This helps keep your shopping time to a minimum and everyone can walk away with something they really wanted.
  2. Plan Ahead. Sometimes we wish we had a little more money set aside for the holiday season and we usually do not think about it until we start shopping. Next year, with a little disciplined effort, you could set money aside each month specifically for holiday shopping. If you are forgetful, there are accounts that do this automatically for you. With an Apple Holiday Club Account, you can set it up with as little as $5.00 and have the deposits set up at any dollar amount you want. Come November first, all the funds get deposited into your account.
  3. Shop Smart. If you are still working with limited funds, you may find yourself reaching for a credit card to make all of your needed purchases. Not to worry. You can use your credit card to your advantage too. Look for a fixed-rate credit card with a reasonable credit limit, like Apple’s Student Visa® Credit Card. Options like this help you build credit which is really good for your future. Just make sure you choose the right card for you.

No matter how your plan to tackle the holiday season, always remember the purpose of the holiday season is to have fun, relax and spend time with family and friends — not stress out.

Quick Tips for Buying your First Car

Buying a car is typically an inevitable purchase many of us have to make at some point in our life. New car excitement; unfortunately, is often balanced with the dread and stress of loans and dealerships.

There’s good news.

With a little prep work you can nearly eliminate the uncertainty you feel. Here are a few tips to help you lessen your stress, pay what you can afford, get the best deal and fall in love with your new set of wheels.

Find out what you can pay each month.

Take a look at your cost-of-living. Calculate what you spend on rent, food, insurance and what you would like to have in the way of “fun money.” What can you afford to pay for a car each month? This will include not only the car payment, but the insurance cost as well. Next, determine how long you want to make payments. Loan terms can be spread out from 36 to 72-months depending on how much money you put on the down payment, how much you are financing and what you can afford.

Figure out your cost of ownership.

Loan payments, insurance costs, gas, oil changes, maintenance costs and taxes should all be considered when calculating your monthly cost commitment. When you have better knowledge of where your money is going, you keep from being surprised in the long run.

Get pre-approved for your loan.

Don’t waste your time looking at cars you can’t afford. With a pre-approval you can focus on options within your price range.
Research your options. Keep an open mind. You may have your heart set on a $35,000 vehicle, but you can only afford to spend $10,000. Consider new and pre-owned options within your price range. Test drive several vehicles before you buy. You and your car will have a long relationship, you want to make sure it’s the right fit.

Get the negotiations out of the way.

You may hear conversations about how sitting through your first car deal can be daunting. Well, buying a car just got easier. There are free car buying services that allow you to shop online and avoid all the dealership negotiations and haggling ? often saving you money in the process. Simply, choose your make and model, pick the color, options/specifications and view all of the available incentives. The process is similar for used cars too. After you have decided on the car you are interested in, you get a certificate showing you the guaranteed price from a certified dealer. This includes the TrueCar® Price Curve which shows others have paid for the same vehicle. This information will help ensure you are getting a great deal.

Go finalize the deal.

At the dealership always review your contract details. Before signing, make sure you are comfortable with the terms. Ask the dealer to remove any add-on fees that you did not agree to.

Follow these steps and you will feel an overwhelming sense of pride knowing that you made smart choices, got the deal you deserve and did it completely on your own. Good luck.

Student Discounts Save Big Bucks

Did you know that simply by showing your Student ID, you could be taking advantage of a variety of amazing, money saving deals?! So, dig it out and start shopping.

Student discounts are available at a variety of retail locations. Many locations don’t advertise their student deals, so before you pay, ALWAYS ask. Here are a few places where you should have your card handy.

Computers.

If you wish to purchase a computer to get you ready for your college days or even started with your career, now is the time. You may be thinking, why should I even worry about that now? Well, if you see how much you can save with these options, especially whenever you are wanting higher dollar tech items, this will come in handy! If you have recently graduated (high school or college) you may want to take advantage of your student discount ASAP!

Cheaper Eats.

Some restaurants like Subway, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, Chipotle and Burger King will have unadvertised student discounts. They can range from 5-15% off or maybe just a free beverage with purchase. Offers often depend on location, so don’t be afraid to ask what discounts are available.

New Threads.

Ann Taylor, Banana Republic and Urban Outfitters offers a variety student savings. Plus, Target.com provides discounts for clothing, home goods and groceries. Visit Target’s website and look up “target student coupon” to see what select items qualify for the student discount program.

Extras.

Save a few bucks at the theater or gym. AMC Theaters cuts student ticket prices. If you are looking for more than what is available from your campus gym, 24-Hour Fitness provides membership savings for students. Save money when you take your car to a Jiffy Lube for an oil change or any other service so you can keep your car healthy for the trips home or for a getaway.

Student discounts are available if you take the time to look for them. Try asking some other students if they happen to know any hidden gems or research what is available out there on the internet. And of course, there’s “an app for that”! The University Network (or TUN) can show you some local deals.

If you find another coupon to add to any of the deals above, you are truly a thrifty saver.

Help your fellow reader and share what deals you have found while out and about the area.

 

Source: Pisani, Joseph. “College Student Discounts Can Save Money For Shoppers with School IDs” Huffington Post. 23 Aug 2013. Huffington Post. 16 Jun 2014 <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/23/college-student-discounts_n_3805667.html>.

5 Ways to Help Prevent
Identity Theft

In this day and age, large retail companies and social media sites are not immune to an occasional security breech. In the shadow of these events, you may start to wonder, “What can I do to protect my identity?”

 Here are a few simple things you can do today to better protect yourself from fraud, phishing, identity theft and hacking.

Choose good passwords and PINs. Try to choose words or numbers that no one else would be able to guess and do not use the same password on multiple accounts. Sometimes you can switch numbers and letters to make it a harder password to crack. Use an “@” instead of an “A” or a “$” instead of an “S.” The options are limitless. For example, take a look at how we turned this blog name, HowAboutThemApples, into a super safe password, H0w@b0utThem@pp1e$.

Protect Your Computer. Just because you cannot see anything wrong with your computer does not mean that it is safe to use. Hackers use programs and spyware which allow them access to your PC. You can protect yourself with anti-spyware programs that will add a layer of protection and your personal documents.

Don’t Go Phishing. Phishing scams are generally “spoofed” emails and fraudulent websites specifically designed to fool recipients into releasing personal and financial information.  Emails that are sent to you asking for your social security number or credit card information are never okay. Be suspicious of any email that is marked “urgent request” and asks for your personal information. If you are not sure if an email is authentic, do not follow the links in the email. Do not complete emailed forms that request personal information. Double check that websites you are submitting your credit card or personal information through are secure. You can either do this by checking for the padlock that appears at the bottom right of your screen, or look for https:// to appear in front of the web address.

Don’t Accidently Give Your Identity Away. If you sell or trash your PC, restore your PC to factory default to ensure all of your personal data is cleared. You’d be surprised what hackers can find buried in your hard drive.  If you are not sure how to properly clear your PC, take it to a retailer who specializes in computers and ask for their help.

Be careful shopping online. Consider a separate credit card strictly for online purchases. It will be easier to cancel if there are any issues and it will have less effect on your day-to-day life. Do not store any information on a store website. Although it may be convenient, it can be a huge loss to you if the site is ever hacked. Monitor the site URL. Look for the lock symbol or “https” to appear before the site address. These symbols verify that the site is safe.

These steps should help you feel more secure whether you’re simply surfing the net, checking email or making an online purchase.