Showing posts with label Money. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Money. Show all posts

How to Lower Winter Heating Bills and Save Money - Checklist

Lowering winter heating costs is easier than you think. There's nothing exotic written here; think of it as a checklist of the things I do and use those items that work for you.

Probably the most important concept implied on this page is the even distribution of your gas and electricity usage so as to remain at tier one for both utilities.

The older space heater next to the bed.
Nichrome wire.

The Basics

For starters, I just turn the gas furnace off for the night. And I turn the thing off for the rest of the day around mid-morning. And it usually stays off until I get up next morning.

How do I do that and remain comfortable? Sweatpants. T-shirt. And a sweatshirt over the t-shirt. And slippers. Totally comfortable. And a knit cap certainly helps, but I seldom bother with that.

Turning the heat completely off at night works just fine for the fall and early winter seasons. But what about when it starts getting really cold, like in the 20s and 30s? The furnace stays off, but I put a nichrome wire space heater in the bedroom with the switch reachable from the bed. When I wake up and there is just no way I'm going to face that cold, I turn on the space heater. Two seconds later, it is blasting away. Perfect for getting dressed in front of the thing. And I've saved an entire night’s heating costs. I get up, get dressed, turn off that particular space heater for the day and turn on the furnace.

Another Tip for the Really Cold Days

Got a home office or other place where you hang out 90% of the time? Putting a space heater there is a lot cheaper than heating the whole house or apartment. At minimum, the furnace thermostat can be set much lower than would normally be the case.

Caveats

This only works for singles and couples. If you've got kids in other bedrooms, the above method is not a viable option. And another note. If you live where freezing indoor water pipes are a concern, probably also best not to do as described here. For that matter, even though when only a single or couple, the coldness may reach a point where turning the furnace completely off isn't a viable option for other reasons; however, one will still be able to set the thermostat much lower than when not using the bedside space heater morning trick.

More About Space Heaters

Needless to say, judicious use is best; otherwise the electric bill increase will offset the gas furnace bill decrease. Surprisingly, I was able to get away with the 750 watt setting most of the time; one really does want to avoid the 1500 watt setting whenever possible. I also frequently turned the thing off altogether; and I certainly turned it off whenever leaving the area, even if only for a few minutes.

On a personal note, I made it a point to not plug the thing into the same circuit as the computer, peripherals, etc; but that's just me; what with the constant 750 watt surges coming and going all the time, the delicate electronics probably wouldn't appreciate that.

And, yes. Space heaters are dangerous. Definitely obey the page full of warnings included with the unit.

Final Notes

There's the old adage about keeping the drapes closed, but personally I want whatever sunlight there happens to be. However, it's certainly not a bad idea to keep the drapes closed in those rooms you seldom frequent.

And there's the weather sealing. Feel a cold draft or stream of air coming from somewhere? Find the source. Describe it at the hardware store. They'll be more than happy to tell you exactly what you need to fix it and will give advice on how to install it. If it's at the bottom of a seldom used door, you can at least cover it with an old towel.

Come to think of it, are there any seldom-used rooms where you can simply close the vents and possibly the door? That will cause the gas furnace to heat the remaining rooms more efficiently. Don't close too many vents; that will cause the furnace fan motor to work harder than it should. And for the same reason, there's the usual cleaning or replacing the filters.

The newer space heater I put under the home office desk.
Ceramic.

And here's what the federal government energy website has to say, includes advice for water heaters and lights as well.

Find a Credit Union for Best and Free Checking and Saving Accounts

Credit unions and certain other financial institutions are ten times better than national banks and credit card companies. Pay fewer, lesser, and no fees.


People often ask,
  • What is the best bank in a given location?
  • What is the best bank for a specific kind of customer?
Rephrasing the question to "What is the best financial institution?" is the way to find what's best.

It is positively amazing how many people put up with all the fees many banks and other financial institutions attach to their savings, checking, and credit card accounts. Those banks and financial institutions will keep on doing this as long as the consumer keeps letting them get away with it. There is no excuse for the consumer to tolerate these kinds of bank fees when there are so many better alternatives available.

Avoid National Banks and National Credit Card Companies

National and local credit unions and local banks are the way to go.

The average consumer should never do business with a national bank or national credit card company. Check out your locally owned banks; even better, check out your local or national credit unions. National debit card companies might be OK: read the fine print.


Customers who have followed the above principles:

  • Have not paid any monthly account fees in decades.
  • Have not paid any check fees in decades.
  • Have not paid any credit or debit card transaction fees in decades.
  • Have always been paid higher interest on their savings.
  • Have always paid lower interest on their loans.
  • Have always experienced the bliss of fewer and lesser fees all-around.

What Exactly Is a Credit Union?

A credit union in the United States is technically a co-op arrangement among members. Those members with money make deposits. Those members who need money take out loans.

The spread between the interest paid to members with savings and the interest collected from members with loans is supposed to be no larger than what will cover the co-op’s expenses.

The covered expenses also enable both savers and borrowers to have free checking accounts, no-annual-fee debit and credit cards, and many other free or lesser fee services. Many countries have these same co-op type institutions; they are just known by different names.

About Credit Union Membership

With banks, you are a customer. With credit unions, you are a member.

It used to be difficult to become a member of a credit union. The usual requirement being you were working for a specific employer. In fact, many times the credit union was actually named after the employer. Many of these credit unions are still in existence today.

Membership requirements these days are much more open. Every credit union has unique criteria.

 Credit unions did not come up with the idea of membership requirements. Federal regulations require members of credit unions to have something in common, usually being the mutual employer scenario.

However, other criteria can now be used; just being a member of a certain profession is a good example.

What opened the floodgates is the now current use of geographical location as to what determines eligibility. In other words, are you and the credit union in the same county? If so, congratulations; you are a member. The credit union website will clearly spell out the eligibility requirements to become a member.

f you do not qualify, it is neither their fault nor yours; federal regulations are federal regulations. The good news is your chances of success are fairly high. Worst case scenario is you merely proceed to your local bank instead.

Internet-based financial institutions are also worth checking out, but be very careful and check their reputations and fee schedules with a fine-toothed comb.

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.


About Your Local Banks and Credit Unions: The Good

Here is the normal fee structure at your good, locally owned banks and credit unions:

  • There are no membership fees. 
  • There are no annual or monthly credit card fees.
  • There are no annual or monthly debit card fees.
  • Savings accounts have no monthly or other fees. A minimum balance requirement of a couple hundred bucks or less is acceptable.
  • Checking accounts have no monthly fees and no minimum balance requirements. The requirement you have a savings or similar account with a reasonable minimum balance to qualify for the free checking account is an acceptable option. Using the direct deposit option to qualify for a free checking account is not always a good idea; getting slammed with a bunch of fees when you lose your job is not the way to go. On the other hand, qualifying based on direct deposit of your Social Security retirement check certainly isn't much of a risk.
  • No debit card point-of-sale fees of any kind.
  • No credit card point-of-sale fees of any kind.
  • Very minimal or no ATM fees on debit card transactions.
  • All other fees are less than what you are paying at your current financial institution.

About Your Local Banks: The Bad

It should be noted some local banks can be even more obnoxious than your national banks. Local banks are just like any other locally owned business. Employee attitude will directly reflect the personality and attitude of the owner(s) of the bank.

Fortunately, the bank’s fee structure is very often a clear indication of the bank’s attitude towards the general public. Ridiculous and excessive fees? Go elsewhere.

About Your Local Credit Unions: The Ugly

Credit unions are well-known for being the better deal. As such, there are bankers-to-be who come out of the woodwork to take advantage of the better reputation credit unions have.

The methodology to do this is not difficult. The banker-to-be simply opens his business via and under the credit union regulations and rules. Then, as far as interest rates and fee structuring goes, they run it like a bank. There is a credit union in San Francisco that is positively famous for this. So just because an institution calls itself a credit union doesn't mean you are home free. Do check out their fee schedule and interest rates relative to other institutions.

The Search

Needless to say, your location will vary.


How to Find Your Local Banks and Credit Unions

Finding them is not hard to do. The usual Yellow Pages perusal and/or an internet search will turn them right up. And it should be noted there are excellent national credit unions as well.

As to finding the good ones, you will need to check their website. Find their fee schedule and you will usually know what you need to know. If they do not have a fee schedule online, then that is a possible red flag. If your choices are limited, then you may have to make a personal visit to the financial institution and check out their brochures in the lobby.

Those financial institutions having the "glass cage" setup you must navigate to enter and exit the premises should be avoided like the plague. For some reason, there seems to be a strong correlation between "glass cage" usage and the treatment of customers as peasants in general.

You can also find a local credit union, plus all sorts of other worthy credit union information, at the federally run Nation Credit Union Administration (NCUA) website.

You can find all sorts of interesting information about your local banks at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) website. They even maintain a public list of failed banks.

Next is the opening of an account. A driver’s license, Social Security card, and a pleasant attitude are all that should be required. If the bank or credit union employee, or the procedures in general, are unusually obstructive; then forget it and move on. If they require you have an account with them for at least six months before allowing you to apply for a debit card, then you definitely want nothing to do with them.


Worthy Internet Institutions

There are worthy internet-based institutions out there. Just thoroughly check their fee schedule; particularly as relates to their savings and checking accounts, and their credit and debit cards. Also, plug their name and the word "scam" into your search engine and see what pops up. If there are pages of complaints, it would probably be wise to avoid that particular institution.


Only consider doing business with credit unions authorized to display this logo:

NCUA (has all sorts of worthy information)


Only consider doing business with local banks and internet-based financial institutions authorized to display this logo (or other equivalent government signage)


Mental Calculation of Sales Tax to Stop Being Overcharged

Have you been overcharged on sales tax? Here is a way on how to mentally calculate sales taxes on the spot and stop being cheated, catch errors, and prevent fraud attempts.


Business or Store Overcharging on Sales Tax?

When it comes to sales taxes, fraud is not that rare of an occurrence. Many times, smaller stores do deliberately overcharge sales tax. In fact, I’ve seen news stories that even the larger, national chain stores have been caught overcharging sales taxes. And employees in all stores have also been known to make price and thus sales tax mistakes as well.

Mentally calculating sales tax to prevent being overcharged is easy. It all has to do with rounding, no degree in rocket surgery required. You are simply doing a quick approximation to prevent yourself from being a victim of sales tax fraud or simply to prevent being mistakenly overcharged.

[Be forewarned, this page is US-centric. Canada and most European countries have sales or a value added tax (VAT) far exceeding 10%. However, if the VAT tax is close to another round number, one can still make this method work.]

Here are the four main premises of this page:
  • Most sales taxes never exceed 10 percent, but most sales taxes are reasonably close to 10 percent.
  • Most thieves are greedy and will thus exceed the 10 percent amount.
  • Even my dog can mentally calculate 10% of something.
  • Even my dog can mentally add 10% of something to something.

You do not need any of these...

How to Mentally Calculate Sales Tax – Some Examples

The best way for this tutorial to demonstrate mentally calculating sales taxes is by giving lots of examples. In reality, you already know how to do this. You just don't know you know yet. So let's begin. You walk up to the counter and engage in a purchase which sells for...

$49.99
  1. You round the price to $50.
  2. You calculate the 10% as $5.
  3. You add the $50 plus $5 to get $55.
  4. If the counter person wants more than $55, welcome to the world of sales tax fraud and overcharges.

Other Examples...


$29.99
  1. You round it to $30.
  2. 10% is $3.
  3. Total is $33.
  4. If the final price is over $33, welcome to the world of sales tax fraud and overcharges.
$5.99
  1. Round to $6.
  2. 10% is $.60.
  3. Total is $6.60.
  4. Anything over $6.60, welcome to the world of sales tax fraud and overcharges.
$79.98
  1. $80.
  2. $8.
  3. $88.
  4. Over $88, cheated.
It should be noted that honest mistakes do happen. You will find out soon enough if the overcharge was deliberate or accidental.

Is It Sales Tax Fraud?


What to Do When the Person at the Counter is Overcharging You on the Sales Tax

This depends on your mood, time constraints, the amount of money involved, the store and neighborhood, etc. Below are some typical scenarios and what one can do in each situation; followed by what you can also do after the fact.

You Don't Care About the Amount Involved

  1. Say nothing.
  2. Pay it.
  3. Say nothing. Or say the routine "Thanks."
  4. [Optional] Locate and take one of the business cards offered on the counter.
  5. Leave.
  6. Once outside, note the date and time.
  7. Never go back.
  8. Maybe tell everyone you know.

You Do Care About the Amount Involved (Option One)

  1. Don't pay it.
  2. Say nothing.
  3. [Optional] Locate and take one of the business cards offered on the counter.
  4. Leave. Be advised however, the counter person (probably the owner) will immediately know that you know he was trying to cheat you. And you took one of his cards... And sales tax fraud is a very serious offense...
  5. Once outside, note the date and time.
  6. Never go back.
  7. Maybe tell everyone you know.

You Do Care About the Amount Involved (Option Two)

  • Politely point out the total is incorrect and explain why you think so.

  • If the counter person reviews and corrects the error...
  1. Pay it.
  2. Call it a day.
  3. Maybe or maybe not give the place another chance in the future.
  • If the counter person denies, disputes, or otherwise argues with your statement...
  1. [Optional] Locate and take one of the business cards offered on the counter.
  2. Leave.
  3. Once outside, note the date and time.
  4. Never go back.
  5. Tell everyone you know.

Reward for Reporting Sales Tax Fraud?


How to Report Stores and Other Businesses Who Overcharge Sales Taxes

Not only are you doing a good deed for society, you might even make some money in the process.
  1. Find your state's website dealing with all things sales tax.
  2. Find where to report what you experienced. As an example, in California the California State Board of Equalization would be where to go. California does not pay a reward the last time I checked. However, reporting the fraud is still a good idea; wouldn't you like the thief (employee or owner) removed, so you can have an honest, local place to shop? Reports can be made anonymously and will still be investigated.
  3. For other states, determine if you might get a reward. Tell them your experience in detail, including date and time. Give them all the information on the business card. If you don't have the store's business card, that is ok; just be sure the store name and address you are reporting is correct. And don't worry; they're not going to just take your word for it. They will probably send the equivalent of a few "mystery shoppers" to the store to confirm. When they have absolutely verified and proven it is not an isolated incident; only then will the hammer fall on the deserving thief.
More than likely the store location is leased. With any luck, the thieving employee or owner will soon be gone; hopefully replaced with a new, honest employee or business.

Unfair Consumer Contract Terms - Just Say No

Beware Consumer Contract Fraud

- Contracts and the Law and You and the Judge -

A short, cautionary note. Unethical contracts are the ultimate definition of SWAG (Stolen Without a Gun).


"But, your honor!?!" I said to the judge...

Judge, “You signed a contract.”

Me, “You mean that paragraph at the bottom of the application form?”

Judge, “Yes.”

Me, “But every bank in the country has that clause.”

Judge, “What clause?”

Me, “The sentence that says I’ve read and agreed to their charter; that I’ve read and agreed to all their bylaws; that I’ve read and agreed to all their rules and regulations. All of that stuff would be a stack of paper from the floor to the ceiling; and they wouldn’t even have copies at the branch for me to read anyway.”

Judge, “I know. But anything you sign is a contract.” (He is right of course.)

Me, “But every financial institution in the country has that clause.”

Judge, “I know.”

Me, “But if we don’t sign, we can’t get a checking account, savings account, credit card account or loan anywhere!”

Judge, “Sucks, doesn’t it?”

Me, “What do I owe?”

Judge, “Well, let’s see what they made up... Yep, that’s what you owe.”


The above story is fictional, but versions of it happen in real life thousands of times every month. That is why I never do business with national banks or credit card companies. Finding a local credit union is the only way to go; they have versions of the same clause, but most of them are not thieves (see referenced article).

Needless to say, unethical consumer contracts don't just apply to national banks. In fact, there are credit card companies out there that are 10 times worse than any bank. Cable companies are another example, which is one reason why customers are leaving them in droves. Some cellphone carriers are also less than scrupulous, their contracts sometime include a clause stating you have to pay them even when they don't provide the agreed upon services. And then there is the worst of the worst, otherwise known as private sector contracts having to do with anything medical.

Rants, Warnings, Alerts About Consumer Contracts

  • You have no civil rights when you blindly give them away by signing a multi-page, fine print contract without reading it. This happens all the time. The days of trusting an entity just because they are a large corporation or an established business are long gone. This is especially applicable as to credit card companies, medical entities, financial institutions, auto repair entities, and pretty much any and all other service-related entities. Corporate greed is the rule, not the exception.
  • Read the contract. If it’s too long for you to read and understand at the time, don’t sign it. If any of the print is too small for you to read, don’t sign it. If there is anything in it you don’t like or understand, don’t sign it. If it's incomplete, don't sign it. If you don't know what you are doing, don't sign it.
  • By definition anything you sign is a contract; whether it be just a single word, phrase, sentence, paragraph, or a hundred page document. Whenever someone tries to get you to sign something, it is for their benefit, not yours.
  • Reading a contract will give you an education; not reading a contract will give you an “adventure”.
  • Unethical contracts and incompetent/unethical civil laws victimize more people than all legally defined criminal activity combined. It is the ultimate definition of SWAG (Stolen without a Gun).

Beware Contracts

About Class Action Lawsuits

A class action lawsuit can result when a significant number of consumers have been victimized. Sometimes the company made an honest mistake, a defective product for example. Many times, however, class action lawsuits can result from SWAG consumer contracts or other behavior so egregious that it can't be covered up anymore. Personally, I think some of these cases should be in criminal court as opposed to civil court. If you happen to notice a class action lawsuit you are eligible to join as a member, you might as well sign up for it. You may not get much in the way of compensation, but at least you will get something.

Legal note: I am not an attorney, but one does not have to be a thief to recognize a theft.

Side note: The thief/theft reference is in regards to contracts. Any attorney or legal firm who specializes in defending/protecting/helping consumers and patients are welcome to post links to their websites in the comments section below. Any attorney or legal firm doing consumer-related or patient-related class action lawsuits are also definitely welcome to post relevant links.

How to Save Money on Food and Other Groceries - A List

Saving Money on Food Is Easier Than One Thinks

Also a note about food government benefits during hard times. And also a math note.


Coupons and Websites

  • Yes, do use those coupons; the Sunday paper and your junk mail will give you all you need. Also drop by your main grocery store’s website and see what they have to say for themselves; more often than not, they will have additional digital coupons you can use where you simply enter your phone number at the checkout register to collect.

Generic Brands

  • Yes, do buy the generic store brands. It is common knowledge they cost less. What isn’t so well known is that more often than not they are made by the same manufacturer as the nationally labeled brands that cost up to twice as much.

Product Shelf Positioning

  • Make it a point to look at the top and bottom shelves. The middle shelves are where the high markup items are.

Unit Pricing

  • Do make it a habit to routinely check the unit pricing. No rocket surgeon degree required; the unit price is right below or beside the sale price. There will be at least one occasion every trip where it will affect your decision as to what to buy. Does your store not conveniently display the unit pricing? If so, then find another store. Also, you may be surprised to learn the larger sizes do not always represent the best unit pricing. Stores are sneaky that way, knowing that consumers automatically assume the larger size is the better deal.

Product Store Positioning and Impulse Buying

  • Never buy anything displayed at the register and checkout line. Those are what is known as spontaneous purchases and impulse items and always have the highest markup. Always bring a shopping list. It will cut down on your spontaneous impulse buying immensely. And while we are at it, never shop hungry.

Don't Pay for Unneeded Labor

  • Never buy premade sandwiches or other items requiring extra preparation in the deli section. The prices are highway robbery and are for people who are taking their lunch break from work, etc. If the sandwich looks delicious, then just buy the same filling from that same deli instead. This assumes you are willing enough to take the contents from the container and put between two slices of bread yourself. Chicken salad and egg salad are good examples. Doing this will usually save you between $2 to $3 per sandwich. And save the containers, they can repeatedly be used for freezing and storing leftovers.

Stock Up on Non-Perishable Sale Items

  • Prices can vary by as much as 50% from week to week. Tissues are an excellent example of this. Canned goods are another excellent example. Some juices also have long expiration dates.

Check Your Receipt for Double Billing

  • It happens a lot more often than you think. It usually happens because either the cashier doesn’t like you or the scanner sensor is dirty. And checking the receipt really is easier than you think; even a long receipt takes less than a minute to quickly glance through. At minimum, at least check the higher priced items. When you find something (and you inevitably will), simply return to the same register and tell them. They will refund your money on the spot.

Never Set Your Wallet on the Counter at the Checkout

  • Sooner or later, you will inevitably forget and leave it there when you walk out of the store. It won't always still be there when you go back for it.

Fewer Trips

  • Every trip you make to the store probably costs you between $2 to $4 in gas. Try to organize to make fewer trips.


Government Food Benefits

Btw, Food Stamps aka CalFresh aka SNAP benefits are used by millions of Americans. If your financial situation is truly grim, it is worth investigating.

Government Websites to Get Started

https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/apply
https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap
https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/eligibility


And last, but not least...

It Pays to Do Basic Math - A True Story

I actually saw this happen several years ago.

A parent and teenager are in a store. The store is having a candy sale. There are two different-sized boxes of chocolate cream candies on display. There is the 12-oz. box for $4.95. There is the 1-lb, 2-oz. box for $12.95. There is some dialogue. Then the teenager selects the one-pound-plus box saying something to the effect that, "The larger box is the better buy."

The parent says something to the effect, “I am really worried about your math skills.”

I kid you not, I really saw this happen. And one can tell by the prices that it was indeed many, many years ago.

Here are what I believe their respective thought processes were.

The parent: “Hmm, $5 for 12 ounces is equal to $10 for 24 ounces. The $10 for 24 ounces is better than the $13 for 18 ounces.” Parent chooses two of the smaller boxes.

The teenager: “The larger box will have the better per-unit price.” Teenager doesn’t consider doing any calculations. Teenager chose the larger box. The equivalent of this  is probably still happening a million times a day nationwide. The retail stores are fully aware that our education system isn't what it used to be.

And while we are at it and on a separate note, there are also some small store owners who are equally aware of this education fact when is comes to charging sales tax.

Grocery Store Food Discrimination - A Commentary

Grocery store and supermarket chains discriminate against single people, divorced people, senior citizens, and anyone else who happens to live alone. Unless we are buying groceries for a family, the national chain grocery stores apparently don't want to bother with us. Or if they do, it looks like they want to charge us extra for the privilege.

Grocery store discrimination against senior citizens, singles, divorced, and anyone else who lives alone.

Having to buy four or five units of the same food item in order to get the discount sale price really does discriminate against singles, senior citizens, and other people who live alone. Only families can benefit from the use of this particular sales and marketing practice.

I’ve noticed this sales tactic is becoming more and more prevalent lately. Figured it was time to say something about it.

There really are very few people living alone who can make use of four boxes of crackers, five bottles of soda, four cans of tuna, and so forth.

And this buy-4-items and buy-5-items requirement to get various discounts is spreading to staple items. It is no longer limited to the more “frivolous” purchases.

In all fairness, it should be noted the grocery stores and supermarket chains doing this are not doing it to deliberately discriminate against singles, senior citizens, etc. They are doing this for the same reason they do all their other sales tactics; the purpose being to increase sales and maximize profits. Nothing wrong with that; that is capitalism.

The resulting discrimination against certain classes of people is simply the unintended consequence. Basically, it's called collateral damage. Oh well, such is life.

How to Save Money on College / University Textbooks - Bookstore Alternatives

Updated for Year 2019

Text Book Buying and Renting Tips and Tricks Guide for Saving Money on School Books

How to and Where to Buy School and College Textbooks for Cheap and Save Money
Bookstore Alternatives


Spending Money on Textbooks

Everyone is pretty much fed-up with the extortionist pricing practices of college textbook publishers. Fortunately, more and more textbook buying alternatives are becoming available to combat this. This page will cover the various textbook buying options that are available to you. Renting textbooks is also discussed. And there are a few useful links here and there.

Saving Money on Textbooks

Buying New Hardcover

For subjects relating directly to your major, you probably want to buy a new, combined hardcover and DVD. You will want to keep the textbook, both as a reference and for the memories. Regretfully, this does limit your choices.

You will find a wide disparity in textbook pricing. In addition to checking the bookstore price; it would be wise to check the textbook prices from at least two other random vendors. Note the exact title, author, publishing date, and ISBN. You will also want to note the used textbook price for reference purposes. If you are early enough, you might find an unmarked-up copy; it happens. Find out the textbook buyback price while you are at it; however, there are no guarantees that the price will still be the same at the end of the semester.

Go to your search engine and enter: ISBN "0-395-62883-0" price. Substitute your ISBN and be sure it’s in quotes. Be very sure to look beyond the first page of results. The wide disparity in textbook prices will become apparent, both new and used. You will also begin to get a good idea as to who are the better sellers. Do this for all your ISBN’s.

Buying Used Hardcover

There are lots of options here.

Most of the information described in “Textbooks: Buying New” also applies to buying used.

Check out all bulletin boards. This includes the bookstore, cafeteria(s), the building where your class is located, the department building for your class subject, libraries, dorms, and even student-favored local shops and stores. Also check if there are any textbook related local online bulletin boards.

Track down the instructor. Does the instructor have extra copies? Does the instructor have any advice?

Network, ask around; everyone is talking about textbook prices and availability anyway. Find out what information is out there. Especially do this as you are going around checking the bulletin boards.

Buying Electronic/Digital

Your textbook may be available digitally. Most of the information above applies here as well.
  • Do a search for: ebook textbook.
  • Do a search for: textbook ebook.
  • Do a search for: online textbook.
  • Do a search for: textbook online.
Network and ask around.

Does the bookstore have an eBook Section yet? Don’t forget to factor in the cost of the reader.

Renting Textbooks

Renting is an option for many textbooks. Be sure to check the pricing from more than one vendor.
  • Do a search for: textbook rent.
  • Do a search for: rent textbook.
Network and ask around.

Does the bookstore have a Rental Section or option yet?

A Note:

There are media reports about on-campus theft problems. Never leave your textbooks or other belongings unattended.

Consumer Information Websites List and More - Includes Dot Com Boom & Bust Era

Updated for 2019

This is rather a unique list. In addition to the current useful resources, there are also a lot of companies and other resources from the infamous boom & bust dot com era; it is is interesting what some of those companies are up to these days. I do my best to keep this page current; if a broken link does show up, please let me know via the comments section below. Also, an important security note: if "https" is not available, it would be wise to not go there.


Resource Description - Worthy Consumer Resources
JDpower Consumer product information.
ConsumersReview Consumers Review listings and reviews.
ConsumerReports Consumer product information. Free and fee based service.
RipOffReport Consumer complaints about specific entities.
cnet Consumer tech product information.
wisebread Living large on a small budget.
SalesCircular Best current deals at retail stores.
FatWallet Advance info on sales.
SlickDeals Deals info.



Resource Description
gifts Intelligent directory of products.
LetsTalk Compare cell-phone plans.
WorthGuide ebay ref guide for merchandise value.
AuctionGuild Industry watchdog. Useful info.
PayPal Reputable online payment service.
CraigsList Online classified ads. Be careful here.


Resource Description - Worthy Consumer Resources
Credit Union Nat'l Association Locate a credit union near you.
DoNotCall Federal telemarketer Do-Not-Call list.
AnnualCreditReport Legit free credit reports site.
SmartMoney All sorts of useful info.
DealMine Discount aggregator and cross-reference site.
GetHuman Dealing with Corporate America by phone.
iHateDebt Dealing with debt problems. Information, free and fee.
travelaxe Directory. Compare hotel prices.
hotels Compare hotel prices.
BBB Better Business Bureau.
CreditUnionsOnline Locate a local credit union.
Quotesmith Online insurance quotes.
Insurance Panda Online insurance quotes.
BankRate Interest rates comparison.
HSH Associates Mortgage rate information, more.
Insure.com News, company fin'l info, more.
SampleSale Clothing & housewares sales list, more.
Consumer World Information.
ConsumerProAssoc Information and many links.
epinions Information and many links.
FTC Federal Trade Commission.
C.I.C. Federal Consumer Information Catalog.
FDIC Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Books/Mags Description
amazon All.
barnesandnoble All.
half All. Owned by ebay.
abebooks All.
magazinepricesearch Price comparisons.
studentbookworld New text books.
campusbooks Text books. Connects buyers/sellers, new/used, more.
collegebooksdirect Text books. Buy/sell used.
textbookrevolution.org Student run. Free educational materials.
librarything Organizational resource.

Resource Description
Junk Busters Stop telephone solicitors, junk mail, more.
Scam Busters Information.
spamlinks .net Spam track & trace.
C.A.U.C.E. Anti-spam site.
N.S.I. Scam alerts and information.
N.F.I.C. The National Fraud Information Center.
ic3 Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Nolo Legal self help, more.
lawyers Legal info, more.

Resource All Things Real Estate....
Fannie Mae Foreclosed homes, much more....
Freddie Mac HomeSteps. Foreclosed homes, much more....
MoveUp Research home value.
HomeAdvisor Houses, Apts, Neighborhood research.
HomeShark Info on buying a home, more.
APBnews Crime info by zipcode, more.
IRED Directory of real estate websites, more.
AllApartments All things apartment related.
SpringStreet All things apartment related.