Make no mistake about it: They’re out to get your money.
Who are “they,” you ask? Just about everybody.
Think about the myriad retailers, insurers, service providers, financial institutions and other entities that make a beeline for your wallet in the course of any given week. Granted, it’s necessary to conduct transactions with these businesses, but you shouldn’t give them any more of your hard-earned money than you absolutely must.
- The salesperson in the electronics store tries to pressure you into paying extra for a so-called “extended warranty.” Should you do it? No.
- Thousands of homeowners keep paying extra money each month for private mortgage insurance, or PMI – sometimes for years longer than required. Should you follow their example? No.
- Many Americans could save 25 percent to 80 percent on prescription drugs if they would stop paying extra for brand names and instead purchase safe, generic versions of the medications they need. Should you explore that option? Yes.
Most people don’t consciously set out to spend more money than they should. And yet it happens every day.
Wouldn’t it be great if there were a resource that harnessed the best available consumer advice for virtually every big-ticket purchase, home improvement, life transition, budgeting decision, compensation negotiation and family financial discussion you had to face?
This is that resource.
“Ten Tips for Keeping Your Money in Your Wallet,” a new column being launched this week on MSNBC.com, is designed with busy people in mind. Each column focuses on a different topic and provides substantive advice very quickly. Applying the advice shared in “Ten Tips” could save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars each year.
What’s more, the “Ten Tips” feature will make it possible for all of us to benefit from dozens of additional smart tips. Every time a column runs on MSNBC.com, you and others will be invited to share your ideas and tricks for beating the system. The best reader tips will be highlighted each week. You’ll also be given an opportunity to vent about your own horror stories, share your tales of triumph and converse with one another about the topic at hand.
Together, we’re bound to learn a lot and find ourselves in better financial shape than we might be if left to our own devices.
About the columnist
Laura T. Coffey is a veteran journalist with nearly 20 years of newspaper experience. She has worked as the social issues editor for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, deputy business editor for The San Diego Union-Tribune, managing editor of The Prague Post in the Czech Republic, a business writer for the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce, a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion in Kenai, Alaska, and a writer and personal finance columnist for the St. Petersburg Times in Florida.
Laura’s crusade to help consumers make smart financial decisions and avoid regrettable – and potentially embarrassing – blunders began in 1996, when she fell victim to a scam and lost $1,700 in the process. .