New Year’s Resolutions: Finances in 2011

Besides losing weight, losing debt is one of the top New Year’s Resolutions. While we’re all feeling so warm and fuzzy about the new year, I’ll let you know what some of my goals are. They are beastly hills to climb but I’m feeling better about the coming year. In fact, I’m more optimistic about this year than I have been going into year’s past. Before it would have been more wishful thinking, but I’m heading into 2011 bullish and with a go-get-em attitude.

So… here are my resolutions and I’d love to hear yours. Along the way, I’m hoping to gain some tips and tricks from other bloggers such as Frugal Zeitgeist, Mom Saving Mom, How I Save Money and more.

  1. Improve My Credit Score: In 2010 I increased my credit score by 30 points to 728.  I’d love to get above 750 in 2011
  2. Pay Off Overdraft Accounts: These are expensive buggars so I’d love to get these to $0 from $7,500
  3. Pay Off Amortized Loan: I have a 60 mo. loan that has 4 months left totaling $2,100
  4. Pay Off Subcontractor Account: $2,200
  5. Pay Off One Credit Card: $12,800
  6. Stay the course on the rest of debt paydown

So, that’s the story and I’m sticking to it.  I’d love to hear what your financial resolutions are and how you are tackling them.

Free Christmas Ornaments at Cost Plus this Weekend

Cost Plus is offering a number of deals all weekend with a free Christmas ornament for the first 100 people each day (I received mine this morning and it’s adorable), a scratcher for additional savings (I won $5 off for totals over $20) and if you join the Cost Plus rewards program (just a phone and email) you can get another 5% off. There are plenty of reasons to shop Cost Plus right now.

Here are some of the deals I found, all pretty worthy depending on what you need. Wine glasses for $1.99 each (plus your member discount), plenty of kitchen tools – many marked down and plenty-o-Christmas ornaments with various sale prices.

Small Business Saturday is November 27, 2010

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Support your local Small Business community by shopping local and small on Saturday, November 27. Did you know that $68 out of every $100 spent at a small business stays in the community? That saves everyone money in the long-run.

American Express has a campaign out to help promote Small Business Saturday. Many shoppers are offering great bargains and products that you can’t find at the big box store. Don’t break the budget AND keep your community growing strong.

What Time Do Stores Open on Black Friday?

It used to be that all stores closed at noon on Wednesday and didn’t open until 8am on Friday morning after Thanksgiving. That was your mother and grandmother’s Black Friday. With the internet and now 24/7 shopping, a number of stores will be open on Thanksgiving. Others will open at midnight and the slacker stores will open doors at three or four in the morning. Yes, as in A.M. Not that we weren’t aware Christmas was coming. The Halloween candy wasn’t off the store shelves before the bows and lights were being strung.

Here is a list of nationwide stores and when they will be open for their ‘Black Friday’ sales.

Open on Thanksgiving Day
Sears (select locations)
Toys R Us (opens at 10pm Thanksgiving night, specials good through 1pm Friday)

Open Midnight for Black Friday
Best Buy
Walmart (some midnight deals, others at 5am)
Old Navy

3am Doorbusters
Kohl’s

4am
Target
J.C. Penney
(doorbuster deals through 1pm)
Sears
Macy’s

5am Crowd
Kmart (deals good from 5am-11am)

5:30am Snoozers
Radio Shack

Are there other stores you know about that should be listed?  Let us know in our Comments area!

Layaway Plans are Back! Stores offering layaway service

Layaway plans are back for the consumer just in time for holiday shopping.  For those of you who missed this lovely store feature, layaway started during The Great Depression when people simply didn’t have the cash to make a purchase all at once.  Layaway started to phase out during the 1980’s and by the 1990’s with stores offering their own store credit cards – and making millions – allowing consumers to overspend, the cost of offering layaway simply became cement boots to retailers.  After all, you can’t make more money off of layaway, you can’t “count” the purchase until it is fully made for quarterly sales numbers and most of all…people tend to be more prudent in shopping.

What is layaway?  It’s putting money down on items at the store that are then saved for you in the storeroom allowing you to make payments over time.  Interest isn’t charged but some stores do charge a nominal layaway fee ($5).

With consumer credit and wallets tightening and holiday shopping around the corner, layaway looks to be a popular option.  Get the items you want now – ok, put on hold for you now – and pay in bits at the store until the balance is paid in-full.  Once paid in-full, you take the items home with you. 

Tips for buying on layaway:

  1. Get a copy of the store’s layaway policies and staple it to your receipt
  2. Make sure you understand the policies such as maximum time between payments / schedule of payments, late fee policies, refund and exchange policies, markdowns on sale prices, loss or damage of items while in the layaway room
  3. Be realistic in what you can afford over time and what you put on layaway
  4. Keep clear and accurate records of payments made (staple them to the original receipt and layaway policy statement signed) in case you have disputes later.
  5. When going to the store to make a payment use the direct in-out method.  Walk into the store and directly to the layaway counter to make the payment and then walk out and get back into your car.  Do not browse, sample, sniff, touch… in and out.  Once you are back in the car the chances of going back into the store to shop greatly decrease.

Don’t forget that until you payoff the items in layaway the store has your money and merchandise.  If the store goes out of business while you’re still paying you could be out both the cash and goods so only deal with reputable businesses.

Stores such as Walmart did away with layaway years ago but Kmart kept this feature of frugality.  Kmart, Burlington Coat Factory, TJ Maxx and Marshall’s have layaway plans.  If you know of other stores that have layaway service plans – let us know in the comment field!