Thursday, September 20, 2007

If You Want A Giant Plasma TV in 2007, This Sunday Might Be The Time to Get It

Author: Nick
Category: Money

do you really need a tv this big?

For all those people who screamed “YES YES YES!” when I asked if you need a giant screen TV, you’ll probably want to camp out in front of Best Buy this Sunday morning and pick up the Panasonic 50-inch 1080p Plasma HDTV for just $1709.99. This is one of the best 50-inchers out there, and you normally can’t find it for under $2,800.00.

This could turn out to be a price mistake; so don’t get your hopes up too high, and try to keep it on the down-low. Whatever you do, don’t post it on a popular personal finance website.

EDIT (September 20, 2007 @8:13pm): Looks like the deal is dead before it was alive. People are reporting that Best Buys are already posting signs in stores that the price is incorrect and will not be honored. It’s a long shot, but the more unscrupulous Punny Money readers (you know who you are!) could try price-matching the Best Buy flyer at Sears or Circuit City. Just be prepared for store managers with swords to stab you in the face and eat your flyer.

Confirmed. Not only is Best Buy not honoring the price, but they’re trying to turn their mistake into an advantage by offering $100 off other TVs. Lame!

Maximum Notary Fees By State: Don’t Get Ripped Off By Big Fat Notary Guys!

Author: Nick
Category: Money

got it, fat man? notary fee in maryland is two dollars. not four dollars, not ten dollars, and certainly not a bucket of chicken

I recently had to have a document notarized, so I stopped by the nearest package shipping store since such stores typically employ a notary public. After getting my single-page document notarized, I was surprised when the notary charged me $4.00. That’s because Maryland law specifically limits the fee I can be charged in this situation to $2.00. I was in a hurry, and the notary was a large, scary man who lifts heavy packages for a living, so I quickly shelled out my four bucks and was on my way. (I was also tempted to pay by credit card in defiance of his “Minimum of $5.00 for credit card purchases” sign, since card-accepting merchants cannot place minimums on card purchases under most merchant agreements with Visa, MasterCard, et al. But again, this guy was massive and looked like he hadn’t had lunch yet.)

I also recall a moment from my childhood when I was with a relative who needed something notarized and was charged $10.00 for a single page. What a rip-off! Well, the days of overcharging notaries are numbered because here’s a handy-dandy chart detailing the fees a notary public can charge in each state for a single-page notarization. There may be additional fees for more pages, copies, or other services, so I also link to each state’s notary division website which typically lists the applicable laws you can cite to make notaries cave to your demands to be charged fairly.

Maximum Fees Allowed For Most Single-Page, Single-Signature Notarizations By State*

State Maximum Fee
Alabama $1.50
Alaska No limit**
Arizona $2.00
Arkansas $5.00
California $10.00
Colorado $5.00
Connecticut $5.00
Delaware $5.00
District of Columbia $2.00
Florida $10.00
Georgia $2.00
Hawaii $5.00
Idaho $2.00
Illinois $1.00
Indiana $2.00
Iowa No limit**

Kansas No limit**

Kentucky $0.50
Louisiana No limit**

Maine No limit**

Maryland $2.00
Massachusetts Varies
Michigan $10.00
Minnesota $1.00
Mississippi $5.00
Missouri $2.00
Montana $5.00
Nebraska $5.00
Nevada $5.00
New Hampshire $10.00
New Jersey $2.50
New Mexico $5.00
New York $2.00
North Carolina $5.00
North Dakota $5.00
Ohio $1.50
Oklahoma $5.00
Oregon $5.00
Pennsylvania $5.00
Rhode Island $1.00
South Carolina $0.50
South Dakota $10.00
Tennessee Varies
Texas $6.00
Utah $5.00
Vermont Varies
Virginia $5.00
Washington $10.00
West Virginia $2.00
Wisconsin $0.50
Wyoming $2.00

*As of September 19, 2007 (If any of these fees change, please comment below and I’ll do my best to keep this table up to date.)
**States which specify no fee schedule for allowable notary charges typically also state that such fees charged should be reasonable.

Fees and laws associated with notary commissions can change at any time, so please check for the latest fees before you yell at your local notary public.

As for you notaries out there, be warned: many states provide for severe fines or even imprisonment for notarial misconduct. So unless you think a couple extra bucks is worth five to ten in the state penitentiary, make sure you charge fairly–even if you are an incredibly large man.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

No-Nonsense Book Review: "How to Get Out of Debt: Get an ‘A’ Credit Rating For Free Using the System I’ve Used Successfully With Thousands of Clients" by Harrine Freeman

Author: Nick
Category: Money

how to get out of debt by harrine freeman

Nick read another book! In other news, Hell froze over.

Title: How to Get Out of Debt: Geting an “A” Credit Rating For Free
Author: Harrine Freeman
Flavor: Pages taste like Cherry Coke.

Short Attention Span Summary. Two books in one! Credit repair for people who can’t tell a credit card from a cookie cutter, and credit protection for everyone else.

What’s in the book? How to Get Out of Debt opens with a thrilling narrative of the author’s own journey into and out of massive credit card debt. The author, a credit repair counselor, uses the rest of the book to help you avoid the same mistakes she made, dig yourself out of bankruptcy, and maintain awesome credit for the rest of your life. Other topics covered include:

  • How to spot if your financial life is falling apart.
  • Creating a spending plan.
  • Women and credit.
  • Improving your credit score.
  • Dealing with telemarketers and creditors.
  • Preventing and recovering from identity theft.

The best part of this book depends on who you are. If you’re spiraling toward financial self-destruction, you’ll need Chapters One and Two to help you identify and correct your problem. For those of us in no danger of monetary mauling, Chapters Six and Seven tell how to boost your credit rating and keep it up there. As Freeman explains, a higher credit rating opens the doors to lower interest home, auto, and consumer loans.

People who need to read the book include anyone teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. It’s not a cure-all for anyone with financial problems, but it presents a basic outline that’ll help even the dumbest of spendthrifts rein in their out-of-control expenses.

People who may want to read the book… Anyone looking to skyrocket their credit score for financial gain. That higher credit score will help you score lower interest mortgages and lucrative zero-percent balance transfer credit cards.

How did this book help me? Not much, but that’s probably a good thing. I’m not in financial trouble, and my credit score is just fine. But I’ll hang on to that chapter on dealing with telemarketers in case any ever call me. Sadly, nobody ever calls me. Not even wrong numbers. Sigh.

Is this book worth buying? There are lots of books out there about dealing with debt and improving your credit. I haven’t read any of them except for this one, so I can’t really compare it to others like it. I do like the way the book is written—lots of simple-to-read lists and bold points to emphasize the important parts. A debt-riddled person with an open mind could probably turn his or her life around if they followed the book’s lessons religiously.

The parts geared more toward people like myself—those seeking to improve their credit for financial gain—present a good overview of the way credit works. I do have to take issue with some of the book’s advice on credit cards. Freeman specifically warns to use credit cards “for emergency purposes only.” I guess this is good advice for credit card junkies recovering from high balances. But for those of us who know how to use credit cards responsibly, these little pieces of plastic can provide interest-free loans, gobs and gobs of reward points, protection from theft, and many other benefits you don’t get from using cash.

Oh, one more point worth mentioning: if you pick up this book for its 230+ pages of debt-fixing goodness, you might be a little disappointed because the actual book ends on page 140. The remaining 90 pages are just appendices featuring mailing addresses for every consumer protection agency ever, a rudimentary budgeting table, and a few other resources you’ll probably just search the internet for anyway.

Buy How to Get Out of Debt on ($13.57 as of September 19, 2007)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Wii Accessory Deal: Buy One, Get One Half Off (4000 Wii Points for $30)

Author: Nick
Category: Money

please aim your wii remote toward the webpage

I rarely post deals here, but it’s a really great one and I know a lot of readers have Nintendo Wii systems.

Toys R Us is offering a fantastic deal where you can buy one Nintendo Wii accessory and get another at half price. Some examples:

The Wii Points deal is a real bargain because you never see sales on those things. Stock up now and enjoy your favorite videogame classics for 25% off! (Note that there are some light shipping charges, and you have to place separate orders if you want to stock up on a particular type of accessory.)

EXTRA SPECIAL BONUS OF AWESOMENESS!!! It is being reported that Toys R Us is also having their semi-annual Buy Two, Get One Free on all videogames sale in store. Forget budgets and frugality for a few hours and go crazy! (Did I just say that?)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Punny Poll #24: Are You A Business Owner?

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: ,

are you movin on up to the east side?

It should come as no surprise that more than three-quarters of Punny Money’s reading audience can’t be bothered to pick up pennies off the ground, according to the results of our previous reader poll. We are special people who only lower ourselves for coinage bearing Thomas Jefferson, FDR, George Washington, or perhaps Chuck E. Cheese.

Over the weekend I had a conversation with a couple of people looking to start their own business. As a business owner myself (Punny Money, among other ventures, is operated under an LLC), they were seeking input on how to get started. After giving them a few tips, I thought to myself, “Wow, it seems like everyone is starting their own business these days.” I tried to find out just how many people in the United States own their own business; the best I could come up with was a figure of 17 percent in the Dallas, Texas area.

I wonder if this 17 percent figure holds true for the rest of the country. Well, there’s only one way to find out. Punny Poll time!

Do you own your own business?

View Results

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