Protect Your Information On Cyber Monday

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Cyber Monday is expected to have the largest online sales of the year for the U.S. Adobe estimates the revenue to generate $2.6 billion in sales. As a result, cyber criminals will do their best on Monday to take advantage of the many shoppers online by stealing their information. Shop.org expects an increase of sales by 11% from last year. Clothes, shoes, and beauty deals actually have a better discount on cyber Monday than on Thanksgiving or Black Friday. For shoppers to better protect their information, do not clink on any links sent via email. Type in the address of the website instead of clinking on any links. It is easier to steal your credit card information by clinking on links. Also, avoid clicking on pop ups while surfing the internet. Protect your computer by having the most recent anti-spyware software and secure firewall. It is better to use a credit card over a debit card because shoppers can always dispute the charges if they don’t receive the items. Most card holders have “zero liability” policies where the cardholder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it. Remember to always look at your credit card statements properly at the end of the month. If anything looks suspicious call the company listed on the charge. Shop only at websites you are familiar with. Looking at many websites to find the best deals is what cyber criminals prefer. If there is a website you are questioning, check the name on the Better Business Bureau to confirm the company is legitimate. Make sure “https” in the web address has the “s” at the end of “http.” If it’s “http” cyber criminals have a better chance to steal information. Use complex passwords if websites require you to create an account, and at the end of the purchase review the information. Document your purchases by printing orders placed online. Follow these simple steps and your information will be more secure from identity theft!

Thinking Of Purchasing A New Car?

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Timing is everything when it comes to purchasing a new vehicle. It takes a lot of responsibility because cars are expensive even if it’s leased. Statistics show end of the calendar year, end of model year, and Labor Day Weekend are the best times to purchase a new car. The end of the year in particular is great because dealers need to meet end-of-year quotas. When bonus incentives are on the line dealers will do their best to sell, especially if they are not meeting quotas. Buyers should always wait for December or towards the end of the month in general. A growing trend among shoppers is to purchase cars on Black Friday. Car dealers will extend sales throughout the month of December because there is more traffic starting today. If buyers are not ready and want to purchase vehicles later down the line, then pay attention to end of model year for vehicles. New car models are always a priority among dealerships and dealers want to get rid of the older models, which means more of a bargain for you. With the proper research and timing, buyers can get a great deal on the old model year vehicles. Labor Day Weekend has been the last popular option for buyers because dealers always provide sales, cash back deals, and close to zero percent refinancing options. Whatever the strategy is understand buyers are in control of the situation. Purchasing or leasing a vehicle requires your funds so determine what the budget is and don’t go over. Cars are considered a luxury so patience is the best option. It can mean the difference between saving hundreds or thousands. Consumer report rankings for the most reliable cars are Subcompact car: Toyota Yaris, Compact Car: Scion xB, Midsize car: Volkswagen Passat Turbo, Large car: Kia Cadenza, Hybrid: Lexus CT 200h, Sporty Car: Honda Civic Si, and Coupe: Audi A5. If buyers are considering purchasing or leasing a vehicle in the near future today is the best time start!

The Reasons Behind Receiving Major Discounts and Freebies on Black Friday and Holiday Season

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Retailers provide major discounts and give away free items on Black Friday as part of a marketing tactic to get customers into their store. The goals are for customers to purchase additional items and to lure them away from their competition. Retailers understand shoppers are attracted to bargains and about 70% of spending on Black Friday will be completed on the first two stores customers go into. Many local retailers are opening on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day to be the first store customer’s enter before Black Friday. Retailers are offering steep discounts on video games between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday because research indicates 46% of people will purchase CDs, DVDs, Books, and Video Games during the holiday season. The video game industry in particular is profitable. Cell phone providers are offering excellent deals to attract new customers as well such as Blackberry and Sprint. Blackberry offers up to $550 if customers make the switch from their iPhone to a Passport. Their marketing strategies are to develop phones difficult to hack into and to provide strong security features, which is the reason why many businesses and celebrities have made the switch. For Sprint, their promotions start on Thanksgiving Day for Samsung Galaxy S5, Sprint family share pack, and any JBL or Harman Kardon products. The holiday season that is November and December is estimated to have total retail sales of $616.9 Billion an increase of 4.1 percent from 2013. Wallet Hub surveyed 5,525 deals from 2014 Black Friday ad scans of 22 largest U.S. retailers and J.C. Penny is the leader among average percent discount by retailer at 65.44%. (Macy’s 53.52%, Rite Aid 53.34%, Meijer 50.85%, Sears 50.19%) Customers indeed will benefit on the steep discounts and freebies offered Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. However, shoppers will have to sacrifice part of their holiday, sleep, and warmth for the best bargains!

The Website To Visit Before Black Friday

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The name Black Friday originated from Philadelphia because it described the heavy traffic from vehicles and pedestrians walking the day after Thanksgiving Day. Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving where retailers draw many consumers to their store for special discounts in hopes they continually come back. In recent years, retailers have opened the doors earlier on Thanksgiving Day to start the holiday season. Black Friday is not an official holiday, but many non-retail employees and schools have Thanksgiving Day and the day after off. For people that are overwhelmed such as myself with the many deals on Black Friday, TheBlackFriday.com website was created to provide all the sales information on one website. TheBlackFriday.com is an official Black Friday website that offers the most detailed information regarding popular Black Friday ads for your favorite stores. It also provides updated news, deals by category, and ad scans published section. The website has already been featured on various TV channels, magazines, newspapers, and radio. However, consumers should be warned all the deals and ads reported on the site may not be 100% accurate. Retail companies will constantly change, add, or remove deals based on what they think will drive up traffic in their store. http://www.theblackfriday.com should be used as supplement material only to provide customers with special sales based on the category of items most popular for purchases. It is advised after reading a promotion on TheBlackFriday.com website to go to the actual retail website to get full details so there are no surprises. Those waiting in line for the doors to open on Black Friday should remember to stay calm, enjoy the experience, and treat your fellow customers with respect because everyone waiting in line is there for same reason…

Why You Should Pay Early For Parking At SpotHero Or ParkWhiz

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Driving to events and traveling to the city is common among people for the weekend or if it’s work related. However, many run into problems when they do reach their destination to park because the fares are expensive. The narrow, winding streets and daytime/evening traffic will eventually reach to open garages that are $20 or more to park for the day. Most open garage parking in the city are competitively priced the same if one does not pay early. Others end up sticking with the meter parking option. However, the wait time for an open spot is long and the meter does run out quicker. If there are no open meter parking, a few resort to parking in spots they shouldn’t and receive parking tickets for violations. There are parking violations difficult to read while parking your vehicle. Avoid these common mistakes by booking your parking in advance. Compare prices, location, and amenities by using SpotHero and ParkWhiz. They are created to take the stress out of parking by offering huge discounts to any big cities in the United States. Instead of paying the premium price for parking, it is wise to pay early at a local parking garage and walk to the event that typically less than 5 minutes away. For SpotHero and ParkWhiz to work, you do need to know the estimated arrival and departure time. Calculating for traffic and adding a couple hours extra is wise for those that want to make the most out of their city or event experience. Both websites offer online parking reservations through the web or mobile phone. ParkWhiz is efficient even if the reservation is the night before. Nearby parking to the United Center was only $6.00 on a Saturday night. The parking purchase at ParkWhiz was made the night before. Scan availability is an option for your parking pass to those without a printer for both websites. There are no hidden fees and the websites make it easy for drivers to find the best local parking option for them.

Best Free Apps Worth Your Time To Download

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App is a program or software downloaded by a user to serve a purpose for their phone. Most TV Shows, Websites, and Companies have an app developed to enhance their popularity and help phone users with user-friendly programs. Creating new Apps are the wave of the future because modern smartphones have web browsers that are compatible enough to do as much as one can do on a desktop computer. App is short for application that run on mobile devices such as smart phones or tablet computers. Below are the top free apps that are worth downloading.

Free Apps for Android:

Google Translate: It’s one of the best for translating over 80 languages with input of handwritten words, symbols, text, or spoken words. Break through language barriers with the translation in text form or the program can speak it for you. Google Translate is extremely versatile that serves about 200 million people daily.

NASA App: Explore and discover the latest images, videos, mission information, news, tweets, and more for your Android. It includes current NASA mission information that currently has phenomenal success with over five million downloads. A must have for space enthusiasts.

Snap Chat: Snap Chat is a fun and fast mobile conversation. It is photo messaging application where users can take photos, record videos, add texts, drawings, and send them to a list of recipients. The recipients have a limited time where they can view the message or image that is controlled by the user. App users send about 700 million photos and videos per day. The company is valued at over $10 billion dollars.

TWO DOTS: Two Dots is easy to play but difficult to master. Users simply tap the screen and match the dots of the same color. The download is not available in every country. The purpose of the game is to make a line but not a circle. Every dot should connect to a single color or connect four dots to make a square. It is one of the better games that came out and is known to be simple but addictive.

Free Apps for iPhone:

GAIN Fitness: Is the total workout buddy guiding users with customized exercise routines. The free app has a preloaded variety of exercises for a complete body workout. Just select your workout days and the app will properly guide your work out goals.

New Words With Friends: It is a fun social word game where your skills are tested. Browse player’s profiles in community search or sharpen your skills with solo play. The developer of the game is Zynga that is known for developing excellent games such as Farmville and CityVille. Words with Friends have great customer reviews and are the World’s most popular mobile word game.

Pandora Radio: Pandora is a free personalized radio that plays music you enjoy! Discover new music while enjoying old favorites. Enjoy all of your stations right from your mobile phone, e-reader, or tablet. Rate songs and personalize your device easily. A must have for a music enthusiast in you.

Dropbox: If your files are all over the place then Dropbox is the app for you! Dropbox allows users to store files on a cloud and individuals can access the information anywhere that has a signal. It is easy uploading for people that are disorganized with regard to leaving their files on their office computer, home desktop, USB, and personal laptop.

How Best Buy Turned Their Fortunes Around

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Best Buy is a consumer electronics corporation that began in 1966 as an audio specialty store. In 1983 there was more emphasis on consumer electronics and eventually Best Buy became the largest national retailer of electronics and computers in the United States. In 2008 their competitor Circuit City filed for bankruptcy. Despite Circuit City going out of business Best Buy was gradually losing market share largely because of a lack of sales from 3D T.V.’s and Apple creating their own stores. The struggles for Best Buy continued when their competitors would slash prices on electronics and potential customers “showrooming.” Shoppers are known for going to Best Buy to test new electronics and then purchasing the same items online at a discount. What made matters worse was the sale of electronics in general has a low buying power. Electronics are known as luxury items and customers can always hold off on purchases because it is not a necessity such as food, water, and shelter. For not changing quickly enough on their market strategy, Best Buy’s quarterly profits plunged over the years. There have been thoughts by many that Best Buy would go out of business like Circuit City.

What makes Best Buy a turnaround story is that management eventually understood changes had to be made. Over the years, they carefully implemented many new and successful strategies that are paying off. Best Buy truly understood who they were as a company. They reduced prices on many electronics to compete with Target and Walmart but avoided a pricing war with them because it’s a losing battle. Bust Buy cut prices to remain relevant. To stand out they implemented “space optimization” by replacing outdated merchandise with products that can sell. Samsung experience shop was also a new strategy to give customers advice regarding their mobile products and their geek squad provided repair maintenance for any tech issues. The in-store strategies have been working because domestic comparable sales increased by 2.4%. Their third quarter results were impressive. It beat analyst expectations with EPS at $0.32 and total revenue growth of $9.38 billion. More investment from suppliers are present and performance may improve even further because of the holiday season. Best Buy indeed turned their fortunes around and now the question remains can they keep this up?

The Love/Hate Relationship With Walmart

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Walmart is a company unlike any other. Each week more than 245 million shoppers visit and spend about $466 billion in its stores. With all the success, however, will generate dislike from many others. Aside from the unfriendly customer service and suspect quality, the root of why people may not like Walmart is because it destroys small businesses in the local area. The low prices on numerous products will make it difficult for mom and pop shops to compete. Studies do show when Walmart comes into town, local businesses are forced to shut down like the 82 local stores in Chicago’s west side. This is not an isolated incident because countless communities across the United States and abroad suffered the same fate. For every “two jobs” Walmart creates, three local jobs are destroyed. Some resent Walmart because employees do not get paid adequately to feed their families. Employees want to get paid at least $15/hour and health benefits are getting cut or eliminated for part-time workers. Strikes have already taken place because the wages are not enough to support their families. This increases the hunger crisis for workers making $9/hour.

Why do people like Walmart? Some may argue we live in a capitalistic society where a business’s sole purpose is to earn a profit. If Walmart sees opportunity in a local area to expand and generate income, they should have the freedom to operate their business. This is America the land of opportunity. Customers do get benefits by shopping at Walmart because of its everyday low prices. The company treats cost cutting like a religion and always look to expand. It is affordable and convenient to many that helps millions of Americans who are on a budget. The ad match guarantee matches any local competitor’s advertised price. Customers don’t need the ad with them and the products must be identical without any substitutions. Some argue employees choose to work for Walmart. It is a choice they made when applying for a job. Associates have opportunity for career growth and greater economic security in the long run. Full-time employees still receive a full package of benefits and base is covered. There are opportunities for full-time employees for stock purchases, 401K contributions, and health insurance. Walmart indeed has created a lot of controversy by opening its doors. There is definitely a love/hate relationship associated with them. What side of the fence are you on?

Netflix vs Hulu Plus vs Amazon Prime

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About a decade ago Blockbuster ruled the movie rental business. In 2005 it was valued at about $8 billion. Believe it or not, Netflix in the early 90’s was terrified of going out of business.  It originally wanted to partner with Blockbuster but management decided NOT to invest in Netflix. Years later Netflix helped destroy Blockbuster because executives from Netflix understood how to use new technology. They learned the advantages of streaming media and how it was going to change the way movies were delivered to customers. Streaming media has become popular over the years because people no longer need to leave their homes to rent a movie. If you’re an avid movie watcher such as myself then choosing one of the three will actually help to save for those on a budget. Video rental outlets are a thing of the past because consumers are able to stream films and TV shows online. Digital streaming media has created binge watching that eliminates the risk of extra fees for returning a late movie. Streaming media has now become simple, inexpensive, and convenient. It also eliminates the need of a DVD player. The three most popular streaming media companies are Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime. Which one is the best? It depends on your personality and financial situation. Below are a list of the advantages and flaws of each.

Netflix: The leader among online DVD rental service. It has the “watch instantly” feature that streams shows and DVD’s to your electronic devices. Provides a 30-day free membership with a valid credit card.   Watch TV shows and movies for $7.99/month. Netflix started as a DVD service but switched over to streaming. There is a large collection of TV, documentaries, and movie shows. It has great original shows: House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and Arrested Development. Flaws: They separated the DVD rental and streaming video section. Customers can’t do both unless you pay extra. The renewal rate of videos and TV shows are slow, which is the reason why many say it has few new releases. Also, the content is difficult to browse efficiently. If you don’t know what to watch it is a bit difficult to find something you may like.

Hulu Plus: Only has a one-week trial period and is $7.99/month as well. The content is over 2,700 TV shows and 4,400 movies for streaming. You have a chance to watch pilots of NEW shows before their cable debuts. New TV shows are available the day after they air on major networks such as CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX. Hulu Plus might be better for people who do not have cable.   Flaws: Commercials are a serious concern for Hulu Plus. You can’t really avoid watching them. Some of the content is available only over the web and not on your T.V. Most of the content Hulu provides Netflix already has or you can find it online.

Amazon Prime: 30-day free rental and $99/year with a cancel anytime offer. If you are a regular customer on Amazon.com, then Amazon prime may be worth the investment. The content includes movies, TV shows, music, products shipped to your door, kindle, and E-books. Alpha House is the most popular. If it’s not on prime, you have the ability to rent or purchase the DVD. Flaws: Is the $99/year membership worth it for you if you don’t purchase many items on their website or mind receiving products via standard delivery? Also, the streaming service may not be available in other countries outside of the United States.