Tag Archives: scams

Sears, Book Sales, Credit Card Marketing & Bruce Springsteen

NBC news reports, as of an hour ago, that Sears in the U.S. may be filing for bankruptcy in the next few days. A few years ago I commented that Sears and Best Buy wouldn’t last: Sears Canada went under this January, and now in the U.S. where they has not been profitable for eight years. Best Buy is still around, but shrinking a lot in the U.S.

Great news: Books are back! As someone who has written 18, and has nine actively selling books, I loved that news. Hardcover sales are up 5% in the last five years, and softcover books are up over 17% in that time. The Kindle, Nook, and other e-readers are fading, but then, it’s always been known that your retention reading from a screen is less than an actual physical book.

The sad news is that 33% of high school graduates, and 42% of university grads, never read another book the rest of their lives. (from a book industry study group) Yet, if someone reads only two books on credit, finance, and/or investing they’d be smarter, and significantly better off than 95% of all adults…and that includes most bank staff!

Two banks right now are heavily promoting their credit cards by touting that they have fraud alerts to protect you. Sorry, but that’s marketing and not factual. You’re totally protected against fraud by federal law and not by the good graces of credit card companies. If it wasn’t your charge, it’ll be taken off your statement and they’ll issue you a new card – period. Don’t fall for the marketing. If you’re looking for a new credit card  you need to remember three tips:

Cut up the one it’s replacing but don’t cancel it with the card issuer or it’ll drop your credit score. Cutting it up keeps it alive but also keeps you from the temptation of using that one, too! If you ignore that advice, there’s an 80% chance you’ll have your old one and your new one maxed out within two years. If you sometimes run a balance, it needs to be one of the 11.9% rate cards. If you always pay in full, look for the perks that you’ll actually use and a low annual rate.

Sometimes fraudsters are really clever and I certainly have a lot of empathy for people who are victims. But I have zero sympathy for a lady named Mary. She was conned out of $11,500 by a Bruce Springsteen impersonator (first reported by CBS Chicago). The story was that Springsteen was getting a divorce so all his money was tied up and needed iTunes gift cards and cash. Springsteen, along with New England NFL player Rob Gronkowski (who’s actually in the Money Tools book) are two of the most conservative public figures with their money! Sorry, Mary, but I can’t find an ounce of sympathy: A zillionaire is hitting you up for a few buck? And he wants it in iTunes gift cards? And he does it off his Facebook fan page?

2+2=4

Happy grad season! But that can be high school, post-secondary or lots of us adults graduating to financial adulthood. While 2+2=4 may sound simple enough, it’s not as much of a math example, as a reminder to use basic common sense. It’s actually a huge poster in the office of a Wall Street investment guru.

In other words: if it doesn’t add up, be careful, because there’s something wrong. But how many times do people not stop to think before investing, before borrowing, or making some really bad financial decisions? Here’s are some really common ones:

You can borrow your way to wealth. Sorry, no matter how great the rate, borrowing is debt and that’s the total opposite of building wealth.

You have received an inheritance of $25 million from a distant relative if you just send some money up front to Nigeria. Come on…get real…

I don’t need to start saving for retirement for few years. Ah, the common sense of delaying. If you’re 20, $9,300 will turn to a million at retirement. If you wait until 45, you’ll need $150,000. If you wait until 55, you’ll need almost $400,000. So if you agree that 2 + 2 = 4, are the odds better you can save $9,300 or $150 to $400,000?

Leasing a vehicle. You pay for three or four years and then just return. All those years of payments and you’re taking the bus home or starting another car rental cycle.

An internet start-up company email tip. Their stock tripled or more within months, with no earnings, and in business less than a year or so. It’s now ready for the crash as soon as you invest.

Trying to outsmart the entire investment world by jumping in and out of investments. Computers sell billions of dollars of stock trades a day and try to gain one-tenth of a second on one another. But you think you can do it for an hour or so with information that’ll be hours old. That’s why day traders lose money 93% of the time.

You have a chance to get in on a 20% return investment. OK, parking your money at the bank gets you half a percent. Does 2 + 2 equal 4 when someone is promising you 40 times a safe return?

Many ads for a ton of products or services promising something for nothing. Does that seem logical? Does that add up? The weight loss industry advertises like crazy in January for your New Year’s resolutions and now for bathing suit season with all kinds of promises…in a business with a 99% failure rate.

Maybe our schooling stops, but the learning can never ever stop, or you’re in big trouble with your career just as much as your financial success.