Monday, July 25, 2011

Save Money On Summer Vacation

Summer provides us with an opportunity to spend time with family, but it is also a time when we spend more on driving, camping, hotels and restaurants.  With so many people taking a hit in the wallet the past 2 years there are many who are looking for ways to have the family trips without blowing their budget.

Hotels:  Hotels have a wide variety of costs.  Sometimes paying for the most expensive hotel does not mean the nicest stay (although the service is usually better), but choosing the lowest priced hotel can often lead to a bad experience.  There are many websites that allow former customers to rate their hotel stay.  People will submit their opinions on location, service, cleanliness...  It's a great way to see if a hotel is worth staying at.

Monday, July 18, 2011

5 Tips To Better Mileage

Summer is a time when people drive.  They drive for family reunions, for vacations, and just to get out while the weather is nice.  It is also a time when gasoline prices rise and everyone grumbles about them.  There isn't really anything we can do about gas prices, but there are 5 things we can do to improve our mileage so we don't have to buy as much gas.

1.  Driving at the right speed.  Most vehicles built since 2001 get their best mileage between 90 km/hr and 105 km/hr, which speed is best depends on the vehicle.  Fuel mileage declines rapidly as you go over the 105 m/hr mark.  A heavy foot will cost you money for gas.  Slow down a bit and you will save.

2.  Avoid stomping on the gas and then stomping on the brakes.  A vehicle uses a lot of gas when it is trying to accelerate, even more if you are trying to accelerate quickly.  Learn to slow down a bit arriving and leaving intersections and stop lights.  This will reduce gas usage and save you money.

3. Don't idle a vehicle.  Idling not only uses up fuel, but it is also hard on an engine and not good for the environment.  The engine does not fully burn the fuel because it is not running at its hottest, meaning you are just wasting fuel.  Many people run a vehicle to run the air conditioning or the heater.  For air conditioning, it is far less expensive to roll down the windows and turn the vehicle off.  For warming up a vehicle in the cold winter, it is far better to let it run just for a minute or 2, and then drive (with the windows scraped off).  The engine warms up much more quickly driving than it does idling.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Debit & Credit Card Fraud

I wrote the following article in November of 2010, but thought it would be worth re-posting as everyone sets out to travel around the country this summer.  Please protect your cards.

Over 84% of Canadian adults have at least 1 debit card and at 74% have at least 1 credit card. Despite the convenience and popularity of these cards, there is a risk of fraud. It is important to protect your cards, just as you would cash or cheques. Some of the risks associated with debit/credit card fraud are the same as carrying around your account numbers, so protect your card information in your wallet, online and over the phone.

However, there is another threat to card users that is unique - it's called "skimming." Skimming occurs when thieves set up a device that captures the magnetic stripe and keypad information from ATM machines, gas pumps, restaurants, and retail stores. By doing the following, your information will be protected and you will reduce the risk of having your information stolen.

  1. Cover the PIN machine when you are entering your code. This will help block a camera’s or other person’s view of your PIN number.
  2. Never let the card out of your sight. Watch as the retail person swipes it to make sure they only use the store cash register.
  3. Check your bank statements immediately upon receipt in the mail. Make sure all payments are yours.
  4. Regularly check your account balance and transactions, by utilizing online banking and telephone banking.
  5. Contact your financial institution immediately if your card is lost, stolen or subject to fraudulent use.
  6. Keep a record of card numbers, PINs, expiration dates and 1-800 numbers so you can contact the issuing financial institution easily in case of theft.
  7. Memorize your PIN number. Do not use your birth date, address, phone number or social security number. Never store your PIN with your card, and do not make it available to others.
  8. Keep your receipts. You'll need them to check your statement. If they have your account number on them, tear up or shred receipts before throwing them away.
  9. Mark through any blank spaces on debit slips, including the tip line at restaurants, so the total amount cannot be changed.
  10. Know your limits. Many issuers limit daily purchases and withdrawals for your protection.
  11. Do not use an ATM if it looks suspicious, it could be a skimming device.
  12. Be wary of those trying to help you, especially when an ATM "eats" your card, they may be trying to steal your card number and PIN.
  13. Do not give your PIN number to anyone over the phone, often thieves steal the cards and then call the victim for their PIN, sometimes claiming to be law enforcement or the issuing bank.
By protecting your cards, you will be protecting yourself. Keep your information safe as you use your cards more this Holiday Season. Jerry