Tuesday, May 28, 2013

6 Ways to Stop Impulse Spending

stark target store aisle
 (Photo credit: Cubosh)
Unless you track every penny you spend, you’d be surprised how much of your daily spending goes to waste. Whether it’s walking past a store and insisting on buying a new pair of sneakers or stumbling across a sweet deal on a trip to Ireland on one of those daily deal sites – you know you’ve done it before – and here’s how to stop:
1. Know the layout of the store
We tend to overspend at the grocery store. Have you noticed that the staple items (milk, bread, eggs) are usually located towards the back of the store? This way, you have to walk through the entire store just to get to what you need – and while you’re at it, you pass tons of items along the way, which makes it more likely for you to throw some items you don’t need into your cart. This is the heart of impulse spending!
Also – items on the shelves that are eye-level tend to be a bit more expensive, since the stores know that it’s so much easier to grab an item mid-level on the shelf, rather than having to reach for items at the top and bottom of the shelf.
2. Don’t get distracted in the grocery store
The less time you spend in the grocery store, the less chance you’ll start buying items you don’t need. First, don’t shop with a shopping cart, because you might feel tempted to fill up the cart – use a basket instead.
Also – listen to your own music to the store. You may not realize this, but stores will play different types of songs with different beats, depending on the how busy the store is at a given time, just to keep you in the store longer.
3. Stay away from daily deal sites
Have you perused the deals on sites like Groupon, Gilt and LivingSocial? The offers can be pretty tempting. From clothing, restaurants to trips to Europe to spa treatments, you can find a deal for just about everything on these social couponing sites.
Unless in you’re in the market for something specific – maybe a new jacket or a deal for a restaurant in your area – stay off these sites. Think about it: if you stumble upon a sweet deal on a gym membership, you might feel tempted to take advantage of the deal. What if you never went to the site – would joining a gym even be on your mind?
4. Unsubscribe
Any time you subscribe to a store’s email list, they’re going to flood your inbox with sales and special events to try and lure you into the store. So if you get an email that the store is offering 25% off dress shoes, but you already have three pairs, that email might prompt you to stop by the store to try and purchase yet another pair of shoes that you don’t need.
Unsubscribe from emails that will tempt you to spend money – it’s that simple. If a store is having a sale, you don’t want to know!
5. Say NO to department store credit cards
Another tool that causes us to spend money is having a wallet filled with department store credit cards. With these cards, the retailer will give you a 10-15% discount when you buy something in the store using the card.
But now when you walk into the store, every item you want to buy will seem even more attractive and tempting thanks to this discount.
6. Stick to cash
You’ve heard this many times, but when you think about it, it makes total sense. Paying for items via credit card doesn’t allow us to psychologically realize exactly how much money we’re spending. There are no boundaries with credit cards (besides the actual credit limit, but many times we don’t remember what our credit limit is). The cashier swipes the card and gives it right back to you so you can keep spending. With cash, you’re actually removing something tangible from your wallet.
Shelling out five twenty dollar bills for a $100 pair of jeans just might make you reconsider that purchase.
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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Discounts For Student Loan Counseling

Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo To Hold Discount on
Student Loan Counseling Sessions June 24th-29th

Will Lower Prices to Help People With Student Loan Debt; Only Local Program Available

Student loans are a growing financial concern for many individuals with the negative ripple effect of slowing economic growth throughout the country.

Student-loan defaults surged in the first three months of 2013, while efforts to collect bad loans are faltering, according to credit analysts and government audits. It is the latest twist in a college debt crisis that is hanging over recent graduates and dragging on the broader economy.

In June of 2012, in response to the growing need for education and assistance with student loans, Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo, Inc. (CCCS Buffalo) kicked off its Student Loan Counseling Program, a service designed to assist individuals with student loans. To date, 142 people have received help from this program. Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

CCCS Buffalo knows that there are many people suffering with student loan debt, and invites the community to partake in its’ services. From June 24th through June 29th, the Student Loan Counseling Program will offer counseling sessions at a greatly reduced cost--a 50% discount. The price for a normal student loan counseling session is $50 but will be offered at a rate of $25. This will enable more people to find the help that they need.

Credit-rating firm Equifax said $3.5 billion in government and private student loans went bad in the first three months of 2013, the most since the company began keeping track. The U.S. Department of Education said 6.8 million federal student loan borrowers are now in default, representing $85 billion in debt.

In addition to loan borrowers who are in default, there are currently nearly 7 million consumers who are significantly behind on their student loan payments.

Due to the complexity of the student loan market and options available during repayment, many individuals with student loans feel overwhelmed and have no place to turn for help. CCCS Buffalo designed its program—the only in our area—to aid debt-saddled borrowers.

Consumers with student loan debt believe they have few, if any options to tackle their student loan debts.

In our Student Loan Counseling Program, Certified Financial Counselors:

           Evaluate student loan debt (current or in default)

           Explore options for student loans including deferments, forbearances, alternative repayment plans, and consolidation loans

           Assist in applying for the appropriate option

           Assist in communicating with the lender, as needed

           Review credit score, credit report and living expenses

With average student loan debt upon graduation currently standing at $25,000, many people will find relief through student loan counseling programs. It is time for the government to do their part, and fund student loan counseling.

It is time for help to come at the national level. CCCS Buffalo is now joining with the National Foundation of Credit Counseling (NFCC) to call on the Federal government for additional resources to achieve the outreach necessary to help student loan borrowers. The NFCC and CCCS Buffalo recommend that the United States Department of Education fund student loan counseling programs. Outreach and education targeted at student loan borrowers could drastically change the landscape of student debt, allowing borrowers to seek the assistance that can change their financial lives and bring their finances in focus.

Arguing that the federal government allocates funding for homeownership, foreclosure and bankruptcy counseling, the NFCC and CCCS Buffalo advocate that the government respond accordingly to the student loan crisis by funding student loan counseling programs.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Do you need help with your student loans? Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo is planning a "sale" on our Student Loan Counseling Program. Call us at 712-2060 for more information.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mother's Day Is Almost Here: Here's What Moms Say They Want

Mother's Day Gifts
Mother's Day is on May 12. Don't screw it up.

Last week, Groupon conducted a survey of moms for Mother's Day. Among other findings, the survey reports that, "Upon receiving a bad gift, the vast majority of moms (84 percent) say they reluctantly accept it with quiet disappointment."

That's right: disappointment. Remember how awful it felt when your mom would say, "I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed in you"? Do you really want to experience that again?

We didn't think so. Fortunately, both Groupon and coupon site RetailMeNot asked moms what they really want for Mother's Day, so if you're completely out of ideas specific to your own mother, you can at least get some sense of what would please the average American mom.

According to Groupon, the most popular gifts among moms are "something they can do with family," a relaxation treatment or spa treatment, or "something they normally wouldn't get for themselves."

RetailMeNot was a bit more specific. It found that 18 percent of moms most want to receive flowers, and another 18 percent would prefer to get a spa treatment. Gift certificates and jewelry were also popular choices.

Unfortunately, sons and daughters don't always come through with the preferred gifts. While many gift-givers say they will indeed be getting flowers for mom, only 7 percent told RetailMeNot that they'll be giving jewelry. And while both surveys found spa days to be wildly popular among mothers, just 2 percent of respondents told RetailMeNot that they'd be getting their mothers a spa package.
That's a lot of "quiet disappointment."

As always, our best gift-giving advice is just to put some thought into it. Moms told Groupon that getting a thoughtless gift is even worse than getting no gift at all, so the last thing you want to do is just grab something at the last minute with no regard for what she actually wants.

If all else fails, though, get her some flowers.

Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.