3 Little-Known Perks of Buying CDs
By: Steven Porrello |
– First published on Oct. 17, 2023
Certificates of deposit (CDs) can be a smart way to capture high interest rates. With some CD rates currently north of 5.50%, the headliner perk on today’s top-paying CDs is undoubtedly APY, APY, and APY. But don’t let high interest obscure some of the lesser-known benefits of buying CDs. Growing your money is important, but these three lesser-known perks could sweeten a CD contract.Ready to open a CD and earn extra cash? Western Alliance Bank is a top pick from our experts and features an incredible rate: 1 Year: 5.51% APY (Min. Deposit $1).1. Some CDs allow a “bump-up” rateStandard CDs offer a fixed rate for a specific period. For example, if you lock into a 5.50% APY, you’ll get 5.50% for the length of your term, whether that’s three months or five years.Locking in at a high rate can be glorious if CD rates fall. But if you lock your CD rate too early, the opposite could happen: You could watch CD rates soar, while yours is still paying out at a lower APY.This is where a “bump-up” CD can come in handy.Bump-up CDs let you increase your rate at least one time during your term (some allow several bump-ups). This allows you to capture a higher APY after your term has started. Typically, bump-up CDs have lower initial rates than standard CDs. But they can prove useful in a fluctuating rate environment, especially if you think the CD provider will raise its rates.2. You can access interest as you earn itWhile many CDs lock up your initial deposit for the length of your term, some will let you access the interest you’re earning. Yes, even without penalty. Often, these CDs will even transfer the interest into a separate account, like a checking or savings account. Depending on your CDs terms, the interest could be deposited monthly, quarterly, semiannually, or annually.3. Brokered CDs can be sold on secondary marketsBrokered CDs are a little-known CD type. These CDs are available only through brokerage accounts, such as:FidelityCharles SchwabVanguardEdward JonesThe broker isn’t the CD issuer but rather buys CDs in bulk from providers, like banks, then sells them to its customers. Often, these CDs have ridiculously high APYs.Because the broker isn’t the CD issuer, it usually doesn’t let you withdraw from your CD — not even with an early withdrawal penalty. Instead, you have to sell your CD on a secondary market if you want out early. This involves finding a buyer who will take the CD off your hands.Selling a CD on the secondary market could result in a loss, especially if rates have increased since you purchased yours. But for savvy investors focused on the long term, today’s top-paying CDs could eventually result in a gain. CD rates won’t stay high forever. If you load up on long-term CDs, you could turn a profit when rates start to fall, not to mention earn high interest as you wait.Of course, like investing in stocks and other assets, trading CDs has risks. But it’s a strategy that many fixed-income investors simply don’t know about.All in all, CDs can offer investors more than just a high APY. Don’t get me wrong: Earning high interest on your savings is a major benefit. But dig a little deeper into your contract; you might find some perks that surprise you.
The 5 Best Kirkland Products to Buy at Costco
By: Steven Porrello |
– First published on Oct. 8, 2023
Buying generic brands can save you money, but rarely can they surpass (or even replicate) the taste of the original. The exception is Costco’s Kirkland Signature products. Many of these products have amassed a cult following simply for being better in taste and lower in price than many nationally recognized brands.It’s tough to pick which Kirkland products are the best, but if I had to narrow it down, here are five Kirkland products I’m buying regularly at Costco.1. Shelled pistachiosPrice: $14.99 to $16.99I’ve always loved pistachios but could never betray my personal finances to pay exorbitant prices for such small bags. Costco, however, changed that. The Kirkland Signature Pistachios come in 24 ounce bags (1.5 pounds) and cost only $15 to $17. That’s cheaper than Kroger ($5.49 for six ounces), Safeway ($7.99 for six ounces), and Walmart ($9.98 for 12 ounces).2. Lounge pantsPrice: $16.99Fall has just arrived in my home city, Portland, and we’re already breaking out the winter clothes. This year, I bought a pair of Kirkland Signature lounge pants and they’re super comfortable. Plus, you can’t beat that price. Costco is even running a promotion online that will save you $25 if you buy five to nine qualifying clothing items and $60 if you buy 10.3. Kitchen bagsPrice: $20.49The Kirkland Signature Kitchen Bags are a staple in our household. They’re big, sturdy, and have flexible tops to wrap around trash and avoid punctures. These bags are strong enough to hold our garbage, plus cat litter when we clean the boxes.4. Adult multivitamin gummiesPrice: $16.99 for twoNot the most exciting Costco purchase you’ll ever make, but nevertheless a good value, this two-pack of multivitamins comes with 320 gummies for about $17. That’s cheaper than buying Vitafusion gummies off Amazon ($12.19 for 150 gummies) and even rivals the price on Walmart’s brand of adult gummies ($8.88 for 150).5. Variety snack packPrice: $32.99This is one of the best buys I’ve seen in awhile. For about $33, this snack pack gives you 51 single-serving pouches with snacks you’ll actually like, like granola bars, trail mix, almonds, cashews, peanuts, and blueberries. Perfect for kids’ lunches or your own snacks during the day.How to find good Kirkland productsPrepare yourself for some trial and error. Fortunately, even the worst Kirkland Signature products are still decent enough to consume (case in point: the notoriously ugly “Costco sweater” you can’t help but buy). Even better: Most are covered by Costco’s 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you don’t like it, you can bring it back for a full refund.There is one little-known way to find popular Kirkland products. You’ll need to the download the Costco shopping app, then follow these steps:Open the Costco shopping app.Click “Shop” from the bottom menu.Scroll to the bottom and click “View more categories.”Click “Explore Our Brands” from the list of categories (in my app, the categories are in alphabetical order, so just look for the “E’s”).Find Kirkland Signature from the list.Click “Shop All Kirkland Signature.”Organize the products by “Most Viewed.”This will bring up product pages that have received a large volume of traffic. When I did it recently, I saw the variety snack pack was number one, followed by toilet paper, batteries, and a stone island 12-burner gas grill (shrug). Take a look for yourself the next time you browse the Costco app and see what other Costco members are buying.
3 Perks of Buying Tires at Costco
By: Steven Porrello |
– First published on Oct. 11, 2023
No, it’s not just you. Tire prices have gone up.The average price of tires has risen 21.4% over the last two years, according to Michael Grabell from ProPublica. That would make a tire that cost $100 about $120 in today’s dollars, while a tire that cost $250 would now be $300.To make matters worse, you can’t always plan for tire expenses. While a tire purchase could justify dipping into your emergency fund, if you don’t have one you might have to charge it to a credit card and risk carrying a balance.Against this backdrop of inflation, Costco Tire might offer some relief. Its prices aren’t always the best out there, but when it’s offering promotions, you can save money and get great services. If you’re sick of tire expenses slowing down your personal finance goals, here are three perks to buying them at Costco.1. Free installationCostco recently eliminated its tire installation fees. Previously, it charged about $80 to install four tires, which is what most tire shops charge. Now, it’s free for tires purchased from Costco Tire Center. To underscore how significant this is, consider that both Sam’s Club and BJ’s charge $80 to install four tires, while Tire Discount will charge $88. If you don’t plan on installing your own tires, you could save about $80 right out the door just by buying them at Costco Tire Center.2. Tire protection and maintenanceMost tires purchased and installed at Costco come with a free five-year roadside hazard warranty (some heavy truck tires may not qualify). Under this warranty, Costco will repair tires that have been rendered unserviceable due to cuts, punctures, or other non-repairable damage. To qualify, your tires have to be above a tread depth of 1.6 mm and must be properly inflated, as well as rotated and balanced regularly.For comparison, Walmart sells a similar road-hazard warranty for $10 per tire. Discount Tires also sells a similar service, but the price is significantly higher and can swing wildly from as low as $100 to as high as $200 or more for four tires.Additionally, Costco will also give you lifetime maintenance service for each tire. This includes tire rotations, air pressure checks, rubber valve stem replacements, and balancing. It will also fill your tires with nitrogen, not regular air. This could boost your gas mileage by slowing down the rate at which your tires lose pressure. Tire shops typically charge between $3 and $10 to fill tires with nitrogen, another cost to consider when comparing Costco to competitors.3. Tire promotionsFinally, Costco frequently runs promotions on select tire brands. In the past, these promotions were often a combination of the manufacturer’s savings and a discount on Costco’s installation fee. Now that installation is free, the tire promotions have been the manufacturer’s discount only.For example, Michelin is offering $50 off to Costco members when you buy four or more Michelin tires and spend $899.99 or less. For Michelin tire purchases above $900, you’ll get $100 off — $70 from Michelin and $30 from Costco (offer is through Oct. 22, 2023).This is where buying tires at Costco can pay off. Getting $50 to $100 off could bring the price of tires well below that of other tire stores. If we then add in the other benefits — five-year roadside hazard warranty, free installation, lifetime maintenance, nitrogen — you could be getting the most value for the lowest price.One potential caveat: Manufacturer’s promotions could restrict you to a brand that may not offer the lowest price for your car. For example, if you’re replacing tires on a 2022 Toyota Camry, you could pay roughly $783 for a full set of Firestone Firehawk tires. That’s the lowest price Costco is offering for your car. The cheapest Michelin tire for a Camry is the Pilot Sport All Season 4. After the discount, you would pay $891 — $108 more.Should you buy tires from Costco?When it comes to buying tires, comparison shopping will be the key to getting the best value. To be clear, best value doesn’t mean the lowest retail price on tires. You might find a $180 tire that Costco sells for $185, but when you add in Costco’s other perks (free installation and the 5-year roadside warranty), it might offer you the best value.Still, it pays to shop around and compare Costco’s tires to other retailers, like Tire Discount and Walmart. You might not be able to stop inflation from making tires more expensive, but by being discriminating about where you buy them, you could do yourself a favor and get the best deal.
3 Signs You Should Steer Clear of Dollar Store Shopping
By: Christy Bieber |
– First published on Oct. 12, 2023
The Dollar Tree and other dollar stores offer items at very low prices. This can be great for your bank account if you are on a strict budget. However, while the things you can buy at Dollar Tree may not cost a ton of money, this doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for everyone to grab their credit cards and head to their local $1-or-less shop.In fact, here are three big signs that this kind of shopping isn’t right for you and that you should steer clear of dollar stores entirely.1. You tend to overspend on low-priced itemsOne of the really attractive features of dollar stores is that each item costs very little. If you shop at the Dollar Tree, for example, most things are priced at $1.25.The problem is, if you buy a ton of items that cost $1.25, this can really add up — especially if you are visiting dollar stores regularly. Unfortunately, many people have a hard time not impulse buying when those things only cost a buck.Take note of what you tend to leave your local dollar store with. If you come out with only the things you needed that were on your list, then you have no reason not to keep going back.But if you have a cart full of random unnecessary impulse purchases like LED candles when you already have dozens at home or fancy face scrubs when your beauty-products cabinet is already overflowing, it may be time to step back and stop your shopping trips for a while until you can trust yourself not to overspend.2. You prefer shopping onlineIf you tend to purchase most or all of your stuff online, dollar stores probably aren’t for you. They usually aren’t set up to allow you to just buy what you need and ship it at an affordable price.The Dollar Tree, for example, generally requires you to buy at least a case of anything you’re purchasing on its website. So if you want a pair of skeleton hands for your halloween decor, you would actually need to purchase 30 pairs of them for a whopping $37.50 if you bought them online. Shipping would also cost you an additional $9.99.With such unfavorable terms for web purchases, it makes little sense to indulge in dollar store shopping unless you plan to visit the store.3. You can get better deals at other storesFinally, you should avoid visiting Dollar Tree or other dollar stores if you can get better deals on the things you’re buying elsewhere. This is especially likely if you are a member of a warehouse club like Costco or Sam’s Club where you tend to get good bargains by buying in bulk.Say, for example, you were considering buying toilet paper. The Dollar Tree has a four-pack of Scott Comfort Plus for $1.25 that has 48.8 square feet of paper. That comes to around $2.56 per 100 square feet. Costco, on the other hand, offers Kirkland Signature Bath Tissue for $1.65 per square foot online (and for even less in store).You should compare prices on things you buy regularly to see if the Dollar Tree really does offer the best bargains for your budget. If you find it doesn’t — or if you tend to splurge too much at dollar stores or are disappointed you can’t shop online — then steering clear of dollar stores could be the best bet for your personal finances.
5 Kirkland Products Every Costco Member Should Try
By: Maurie Backman |
– First published on Oct. 12, 2023
Okay, I’ll admit it. When I first joined Costco, I was hesitant to bring Kirkland products home because I was convinced they’d somehow be inferior in quality to the brands I was used to. How else could you explain those ultra-low prices?But I’m glad I’ve since changed my ways, because through the years, I’ve enjoyed lots of savings at Costco by loading up on Kirkland products. And these days, certain Kirkland products are staples on my weekly grocery list.If you’re not familiar with Kirkland, it’s Costco’s signature brand. You’ll find the Kirkland name on everything from baby products to baked goods to household supplies. And here are a few Kirkland products I think every Costco member should try.1. Organic quinoaQuinoa has been hailed as a supergrain that can serve as a great base or side dish for meals. We eat a lot of quinoa in my household, and I like to add it to chili and stew for extra protein.At my local supermarket, an 8.8-ounce bag of quinoa costs $3.49. So that’s $0.40 an ounce. Meanwhile, Kirkland makes a mega-bag of quinoa that costs just $10.99 online for a 4.5-pound haul. That’s only $0.15 an ounce.And also, that’s the online price. Chances are, you’ll find Kirkland-brand quinoa at an even lower price at your local warehouse club store.2. Kirkland almond butterI’m a huge fan of peanut butter. But sometimes, I like to mix things up and put almond butter on toast or apple slices instead.A 27-ounce jar of Kirkland almond butter costs $7.99 online, which is $0.30 an ounce. At my local supermarket, a 16-ounce jar is $8.49, or $0.53 an ounce.3. Praline pecansWhen I’m in the mood for something sweet, I try to offset it by adding a little protein to the mix. And Kirkland praline pecans fit the bill. They’re not overly sweet, and they can be eaten by the handful at night while watching TV or sprinkled onto a salad for a little crunch.A 2.5-pound jar of these bad boys costs $16.99 at Costco, which amounts to about $0.42 per ounce. Trader Joe’s sells yummy candied pecans, too, but a five-ounce bag will cost you $4.49, or roughly $0.90 per ounce.4. Cashew clustersKirkland makes a delicious cashew cluster that includes almonds, pumpkin seeds, and just the right amount of sugar. This is my go-to snack for a long hike because it’s packed with protein and tasty as heck. And for just $10.99 for a two-pound bag online, it’s a worthwhile investment.Now, I can’t compare the cost of these clusters to another store because frankly, I’ve never seen a comparable product outside of this Kirkland offering, which you can only find at Costco — at least at a reasonable price. You can technically buy these cashew clusters on Amazon, but the cost there is almost $25 versus $10.99 at Costco.com. And again, you’ll generally pay even less at an actual warehouse club store.5. Chocolate chipsI happen to do a lot of baking at home, especially during the holidays. And I like to load up on Kirkland chocolate chips because the price is always far more competitive than what’s available elsewhere. A 4.5-pound bag of Kirkland semi-sweet chocolate chips is only $13.99 online, or $0.20 per ounce.I’ll be honest. There’s nothing spectacular about these chocolate chips. They taste like…chocolate chips, which are a hard thing to mess up. The reason to go for the Kirkland version here really boils down to price alone.At my local supermarket, chocolate chips happen to be on sale right now. But even so, a 10-ounce bag is $3, which would have me paying $0.30 an ounce.Some of the Kirkland products you’ll find at Costco are unique items you really can’t find elsewhere. Others are simply more affordable but equally good versions of the products you’ll see in many stores. But either way, it pays to give these Kirkland products a try, especially because Costco stands behind its signature brand (and every item it sells, for that matter). So if you take a chance on a Kirkland item and it doesn’t meet your expectations, you can generally bring it back for a refund without any sort of hassle.